Heisman Watch: Week 12
Only two weeks remain in the regular season, and this week's schedule has an absence of marquee games. The relatively routine schedule means several Heisman Trophy contenders will have chances to pad their stats heading into Rivalry Week. Here are our analysts' picks of who to watch out for in the upcoming week.
Joe’s pick: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Lamar Jackson may have been the least talked about returning Heisman Trophy winner in recent history. Most of that is due to the fact that Louisville has struggled defensively this season. as the Cardinals have allowed at least 39 points in their losses this season.
Jackson is not at fault for those losses, as he has thrown for over 300 yards and scored at least three total touchdowns in those games. His numbers this year are on pace to match his output from last year as he became the first quarterback in college football history to throw for over 3,000 yards and run for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons.
Unfortunately for Jackson, Louisville does not have another team left on its schedule that will pose a significant threat to them. Syracuse is the next team on the schedule and look for Jackson to torch the Orange, as he accumulated 610 yards of total offense and five touchdowns against them last year.
Hunter’s pick: Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
If the College Football Playoff committee proved anything, it’s that record doesn’t outweigh strength of schedule. The Wisconsin Badgers haven’t lost a game this season, yet they started off No. 9 when the College Football Playoff committee released their first rankings.
Now, the Badgers are ranked No. 5, with two one-loss teams still ahead of them. From the committee’s perspective, the Badgers haven’t warranted a spot in top four due to the lack of competition they have played. Clemson and Oklahoma may not be undefeated, but both teams have played substantially better teams, leading to more meaningful victories.
Wisconsin is steamrolling through the Big Ten West, which has proven to be mediocre at best this season. This week’s matchup vs. Michigan was suppose to be the big game on the schedule for the Badgers; however, the Wolverines have been one of the biggest disappointments in college football, and Wisconsin is expected to blow them out.
To be fair, Wisconsin can’t help who they play. Every week Wisconsin has dominated its opponent and has done anything possible to prove to the committee that they are for real. If Wisconsin is able to run the table and make it to the College Football Playoff, the team will have to rely on their star running back Jonathan Taylor.
Taylor has been arguably the best running back in the Big Ten this season. Saquon Barkley, Mike Weber Jr., and Justin Jackson were a few names that highlighted a stacked running back group in the Big Ten.
Game in and game out, Taylor has been by far the most consistent running back. Wisconsin has sent running backs to the NFL such as Montee Ball, Melvin Gordon, and Corey Clement. If Taylor keeps up his pace for the rest of his collegiate career, no doubt he will join that list of top tier Badgers running backs in the NFL.
The freshman sensation has been on fire, totaling 1525 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdown through 10 games. Taylor has failed to score in only two games this season. Not only is that impressive for a freshman, but Taylor is ranked third in the country in rushing yards and is top 20 in rushing touchdowns.
The freshman doesn’t have imposing size or athleticism, but he is very agile and pound-for-pound a hard tackle for any defender to make.
Taylor’s breakaway ability is what makes him such a dangerous weapon for Wisconsin. If Wisconsin remains a championship contender, Taylor is a dark horse Heisman candidate who will surely garner the attention needed to win the award.
Josh’s pick: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
There’s not much left to prove for the senior quarterback from Oklahoma. He has consistently been among the best players in college football each and every week so far this season.
His success continued last week against TCU. Against the Horned Frogs’ defense that had allowed just 27 points combined over its last four games, Mayfield had himself a day. He threw for 333 yards and three touchdowns against sixth-ranked TCU.
This year, Mayfield is second in the nation with 3,559 yards and is third in passing touchdowns with 31. What’s even more impressive is that he has only thrown five interceptions. A quarterback must take care of the ball and Mayfield has been one of the best in that category this season.
Right now, Mayfield’s Sooners are frontrunners in the Big 12. Even more important is that Oklahoma is fourth in the College Football Playoff rankings and Mayfield has led the way. Mayfield is yet to have a poor game this season and his ability to take over a game is second to none.
Oklahoma closes out its season at Kansas and home against West Virginia. Expect Mayfield to continue his success in his last two regular season contests and eventually in the Big 12 Championship game. Mayfield is the favorite to bring home college football’s greatest honor and will undoubtedly have a seat in New York for the Heisman presentation.
Joseph Esquivel-Murphy is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and Spanish. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hunter Pitcoff is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
Josh Starr is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.