Welcome to the Heisman of the Week, a totally serious column in which we dissect the performances of literally thousands of college football players to tell you which ones deserve the Heisman Trophy most based on just this one week of competition ... and which players are actually setting themselves up for contention for the thing. (They're not always the same.)
Heisman of the Week: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Oklahoma's quarterback was the fulcrum of the Sooners' upset of Baylor Saturday, throwing for 270 yards and three scores and racking up another 79 yards and a touchdown on the ground. And he looked positively Manzielish in doing so: Mayfield's most important play of the night had him standing in the pocket and then dodging rushers for what felt like a fortnight, then finding a receiver. He also had one of the more impressive two-yard gains in football history on another escape from a pass rush.
And if last night was Mayfield absorbing the Heisman chances of Baylor's Corey Coleman (three catches, 51 yards, no touchdowns), next week is his opportunity to do the same to TCU's candidates. Mayfield can't really do anything to undefeated Oklahoma State's nonexistent candidates in the Bedlam game, so he might have to hypothetically settle for a performance that secures a College Football Playoff berth and stamps him as the nation's best quarterback.
Heisman Hopeful of the Week: Derrick Henry, Alabama
Last week, I wrote at length about why Henry hadn't taken the front seat in the Heisman jalopy from LSU's Leonard Fournette. Now he has!
Henry ran for another 204 yards and two touchdowns against Mississippi State Saturday, with the highlight of his effort being an effortless 65-yard touchdown run on which he ran faster than the Bulldogs' defenders despite also being bigger than them. He now leads the nation in rushing touchdowns, with 19, and has once more eclipsed six yards per carry after having that average dragged down by a few mediocre performances.
More importantly, though, Fournette's come back to the pack, with just 122 yards on 38 carries over his last two weeks. He still has more yards (1,474) than Henry (1,458) in fewer games, but not by much. And LSU is reeling, with two losses by at least 14 points in its last two games. Meanwhile, Alabama is rolling, administering one of those defeats and riding a seven-game winning streak to the lead pack of College Football Playoff hopefuls.
Plus, no one's chasing Henry as hard as he chased Fournette. Mayfield may be the nation's best Heisman candidate at quarterback if TCU's Trevone Boykin is seriously hurt, but Mayfield still has an uphill road to being mentioned in the same breath as Henry. Boykin and his Horned Frogs probably derailed his candidacy by not stopping Oklahoma State. Dalvin Cook is brilliant, but Florida State has two losses, and he's been so frequently injured that there's no guarantee he finishes this season. Coleman nearly no-showed Baylor's loss to Oklahoma. Josh Doctson isn't out for the year, but he's hurting.
A race that looked like a potential Henry-Fournette showdown now sees Henry ahead of the pack. And though things could change -- few would have thought Fournette would stumble like this -- he's my pick to win the Heisman if he maintains his pace.
More college football for you
Ha-Hasman of the Week: Keenan Reynolds, Navy
All right, look: Keenan Reynolds breaking the FBS record for rushing touchdowns is pretty cool. He's going to break the FBS record for total touchdowns, too, probably as soon as next week. But...
He Can't Win The Heisman of the Week: Keenan Reynolds
...he is absolutely not winning the Heisman Trophy.
Reynolds has 17 rushing touchdowns on the year, which ties him with Fournette for second nationally. Also tied for second nationally in rushing touchdowns? Lousiana Tech's Kenneth Dixon and Northern Illinois's Joel Bouagnon. No one is stumping for either of them.
Reynolds has also run for 928 yards, most among FBS quarterbacks. But Houston's Greg Ward, Jr. has 810 rushing yards, has thrown for over 1,600 more yards than Reynolds, and is leading an undefeated team. No one outside of the #HTownTakeover is stumping for him.
Reynolds has gotten Heisman hype because he's a four-year player, had one outstanding year (31 rushing touchdowns in 2013), and plays at a service academy, which grants him a bonus of prestige and dignity that's probably better interrogated in a different post. But stats alone don't win the Heisman: Reynolds didn't make the top 10 of the Heisman voting in 2013.
Reynolds getting hype is fine, and it's fine that he'll get more than comparable players because of "character" or whatever. But pretending that he'll get more than a few third-place votes is silly.