The Heisman Trophy’s already been voted on. There are three finalists this year, which suggests the voting wasn’t all that close at the top. The Heisman is presented to the winner on Saturday at 8p.m. ET on ESPN.
Let’s meet the finalists:
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma QB
He’s the guy who’s going to win.
“Heisman odds are currently off the board as Baker Mayfield is too big of a favorite,” Bovada publicist Jimmy Shapiro wrote in a release last week. “He was 1/20 last week and would be even bigger this week.”
Mayfield’s having a historically good season. He set the all-time FBS passer efficiency record with a 196.4 mark last year. This year, he’s at 203.8. He has national-high marks in yards per throw (11.8) and completion percentage (71), and Mayfield’s done it on a Big 12 winner and Playoff team.
He’s had some image problems this year: an offseason arrest for public intoxication and disorderly conduct, a flag-planting at Ohio State that made a lot of Buckeyes very sad, a pregame skirmish at Baylor in which he called himself Baylor’s daddy and said he would spank BU’s players, and a game at Kansas that included taunts of the crowd, a grab of his crotch, and much more. Some voters will hold those things against him.
But let’s not overthink this. Mayfield is the going-away favorite.
He had a casual four touchdowns in OU’s blowout win against TCU, punching the Sooners’ Playoff ticket and confirming himself as the winner.
Lamar Jackson, Louisville QB
Is at least as dangerous as ever. Has had a year even better than his Heisman-winning campaign of 2016, in some ways. But Louisville’s mediocre, and Mayfield had an absurd season on a winning team. Just remember that Jackson is awesome.
Bryce Love, Stanford RB
Gutted out a close Pac-12 Championship loss to USC, putting up 125 yards and a touchdown while much of the game broadcast focused on his ankle injury.
A brief sense of his season, which was spent piling up long runs after much of the East Coast had gone to bed:
Bryce Love has been running on one leg for over a month and has 2,000 rushing yards. He’s a bad mother.— Rule of Tree (@RuleofTree) December 2, 2017
Players who didn’t make the cut
All defenders, special teamers, and offensive linemen
It takes unbelievable numbers and probably some touchdowns anyway for anybody besides a quarterback, running back, or (also rarely) a wide receiver to make significant Heisman noise. Despite the “most outstanding player” description, it’s an award for the top QB or RB, virtually every year.
Saquon Barkley, Penn State RB
The country’s best highlight reel, but nowhere near the country’s best numbers. His candidacy was also hurt by there being three obvious finalists, which matches the number of players a voter can write on a ballot. If most voters list Mayfield, Love, and Jackson, then there are very few votes left over for anybody else.
J.T. Barrett, Ohio State QB
Has some great numbers but a limited ceiling because of how bad he was in both of Ohio State’s losses, to Oklahoma and Iowa. The Buckeyes beat Wisconsin to win the Big Ten.
Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State QB
Lost to Mayfield in Bedlam and has slightly worse numbers than him, but has still been great.
Kerryon Johnson, Auburn RB
Came on strong late in the year for a great team, but a loss to Georgia hurt his chances. Already has Tim Tebow’s second-place vote, even if the ex-Florida QB wasn’t supposed to say so publicly.
Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin RB
The latest great Wisconsin running back from New Jersey. And just a freshman!
Rashaad Penny, San Diego State RB
The country’s leader in total yardage. Plays in the Mountain West, a mid-major league, and therefore won’t come close.
Khalil Tate, Arizona QB
Came on too late in the year to win, and played for a 7-5 team, but will be on a whole lot of early Heisman lists heading into 2018.
McKenzie Milton, UCF QB
Owner of the country’s best non-Mayfield completion percentage, yardage per attempt, and passer rating. In a Group of 5 conference, which makes it hard to get attention, despite a big season-ending win over Memphis.