It appears to be a foregone conclusion that Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield will win the Heisman Trophy tomorrow night in New York, joining a prestigious group that’s won the most highly-coveted individually-awarded trophy in college sports. Mayfield had a spectacular year, as he currently tops his record-setting passing efficiency rating from last season and led his team to its second College Football Playoff in two seasons. He’s the overwhelming favorite to hoist the trophy and become the third Oklahoma quarterback to win the Heisman since 2003.
But what if the voters decide against the bold and audacious Mayfield? Crazier things have happened, and there’s a couple really good candidates that have also been invited to New York for the Heisman ceremony. Let’s get into why they might have a shot to win the Heisman.
To make the argument for Lamar Jackson winning the Heisman this year, look no further than what happened last season. Clemson’s Deshaun Watson had 43 total touchdowns while leading his team to the No. 2 ranking heading into the College Football Playoff. When taking into account the defenses Watson had to face compared to the ones Mayfield had to face this season in the Big 12, and you can say Watson’s season last year (despite 15 interceptions) was more impressive.
Despite the heroics of the all-time college great Watson, Jackson beat him out for the Heisman with his electric year that included 51 total touchdowns and over 1,500 yards rushing from the quarterback position. This season, Jackson has been every bit as unstoppable as last. While his numbers took a slight dip, they’re still mind-boggling and worthy of strong consideration for the Heisman.
Bryce Love came just 27 yards short of 2,000 for the season, and that number alone would’ve given the voters a little more to think about when casting their votes. The thing that really killed Love’s candidacy was the ankle injury against Oregon on October 14. Before the injury, which forced him to miss a game, Love was averaging over 198 rushing yards per game—including at least 147 yards in each game. After that, he had to battle through the high-ankle sprain, which is very tough to get over, and still put up very good performances.
It’s fair to wonder what his numbers would look like if he didn’t suffer that ankle injury in middle of the season. Maybe the voters will consider how much he toughed it out to help get Stanford to the Pac-12 title game. But it probably won’t be enough to stop Mayfield from winning the award.