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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Source: Saturday Down South