Heisman Watch: My Top 3, who’s rising, who’s falling entering Week 7

Just about halfway through the regular season, the SEC remains on the outside looking in when it comes to the Heisman Trophy discussion.

It hasn’t been a good year at the quarterback position for the best conference in America, and since the Heisman is largely a QB award, that puts the league at a disadvantage. Chad Kelly of Ole Miss hasn’t stated much of a case.

Running back was supposed to be a different story, though. LSU’s Leonard Fournette, Georgia’s Nick Chubb and Tennessee’s Jalen Hurd were all on the radar for voters back at Media Days. However, each has dealt with injuries — and, in some cases, ineffectiveness — and is more than likely out of the picture altogether.

The SEC is in danger of not having a representative selected to go to New York City for the ceremoney, let alone actually producing a winner. Perhaps a dark-horse candidate can emerge coming down the stretch.

Here’s how I’m handicapping the Heisman race thus far. Even with the leader coming off a bye, there’s no change at the top.

top 3

1. Louisville QB Lamar Jackson

Week 6: bye

2016: 101-170-1625-14-1 passing, 92-688-14 rushing

Jackson remains the most exciting player in college football and perhaps one of the more electrifying we’ve seen in recent memory.

With 14 touchdowns passing and 14 more rushing, Jackson is responsible for 168 points through five games. It’s taken San Diego State, Ball State and East Carolina six games each to score 168 as a team.

With five easy wins on the schedule before visiting No. 13 Houston in Week 12, Jackson should continue to put up jaw-dropping numbers.

2. Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett

Week 6: 9-21-93-1-1 passing, 26-137-1 rushing

2016: 79-123-981-15-3 passing, 70-342-4 rushing

Barrett was a little more off target than usual in a 38-17 win over Indiana, although he was quite effective running the ball.

Oct 8, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback J.T.  Barrett (16) takes in the touchdown run during the 2nd quarter against the Indiana Hoosiers at Ohio Stadium. Ohio State Buckeyes lead 24-10 at half. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

The entire Ohio State offense is built around Barrett and his dual-threat abilities. He does a magnificent job of taking what the opponent gives him. One week, it’s the pass. The next, it’s the run. Either way, he’s productive.

On the road this weekend, Barrett can make a statement against a Wisconsin D ranked 11th in the nation in total yards allowed per game.

3. Florida State RB Dalvin Cook

Week 6: 27-150-0 rushing, 1-59-1 receiving

2016: 134-785-7 rushing, 20-345-1 receiving

A Miami native, Cook helped Florida State defeat his hometown Hurricanes for the seventh straight time in Week 6.

No player in America has accumulated more yards from scrimmage than Cook, who is averaging 188.3 combined rushing and receiving. His past three games, he has no fewer than 140 yards as a runner and 59 yards as a receiver each time.

Cook returns to Tallahassee to face a sneaky Wake Forest team Saturday that’s 5-1 and No. 5 in the ACC defending the run.

on the rise

Washington QB Jake Browning

The most efficient quarterback in the nation with a mark of 204.9, Browning put on a clinic Saturday in a 70-21 demolition at Oregon with 6 touchdowns passing and 2 more rushing. His TD-to-INT ratio for the season is an incredible 23-to-2.

Through six games, Browning is completing 72.2 percent of his throws and averaging 9.8 yards per attempt for undefeated Washington.

Alabama QB Jalen Hurts

No true freshman has won the Heisman. However, no sophomore had ever emerged victorious until Tim Tebow did so in 2007. No redshirt freshman had ever won it, either, until Johnny Manziel put an end to that in 2012.

Oct 8, 2016; Fayetteville, AR, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen  Hurts (2) scrambles during the second quarter of the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

The unquestioned leader of No. 1 Alabama’s explosive offense, Hurts is responsible for 14 touchdowns in six games and has only been picked off twice.

Michigan LB Jabrill Peppers

If the Heisman was given to the most versatile player in the nation, then Peppers would take home the bronze in a landslide. The linebacker was handed the ball three times on offense Saturday against Rutgers. He produced 74 yards and 2 TDs.

Defensively, he has now been credited with 10 tackles for loss in six games. He also averages 31.7 yards on kick returns and 17.8 on punt returns.

falling fast

North Carolina QB Mitch Trubisky

Just when he was starting to make a name for himself with three consecutive 400-yard passing games, Trubisky couldn’t handle the weather against Virginia Tech in a 34-3 embarrassment. He connected on just 13-of-33 throws for 58 yards.

If Trubisky can rebound Saturday at Miami, North Carolina can take control of the division and perhaps make the ACC Championship Game again.

Texas A&M QB Trevor Knight

Even after scoring the game-winning touchdown in double overtime to finally put away the never-say-die Volunteers, Knight didn’t look like the best player on the field for Texas A&M. More often than not, it was tailback Trayveon Williams.

Oct 8, 2016; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Trevor  Knight (8) warms up before the game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

While Knight is a plus runner, he’s a minus thrower. Not once has he completed 60 percent of his passes. Heisman winners can’t be so inaccurate.

Syracuse WR Amba Etta-Tawo

The nation’s leader in receiving yards, Etta-Tawo had averaged 9.4 catches and 168 yards in his first five games, including a 12-catch, 270-yard, 2-TD explosion in Week 4 at UConn. The Baylor offense has been kind to him at Syracuse.

Nevertheless, Etta-Tawo finally came back down to Earth in Week 6 with only 4 receptions for 36 yards in a defeat at Wake Forest.

John Crist is the senior writer for Saturday Down South, a member of the FWAA and a voter for the Heisman Trophy. Send him an e-mail, like him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.

Source: Saturday Down South

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