It was a good run, SEC. After 10 consecutive seasons producing a Heisman Trophy finalist — including five winners — that streak is probably toast.
While there are plenty of games left, not one SEC player is legitimately in the Heisman conversation after five weeks. The conference doesn’t have a top-10 passer nationally. Its leading receiver is a tight end. The leading rusher is from Vanderbilt.
That ain’t sexy. Stars from too many other conferences have been far more impressive. But we’ll keep plugging here, updating the race as we see it and searching for anyone with even a glimmer of hope. To the candidates, such as they are.
RB Leonard Fournette, LSU: It’s easy to forget that through Week 8 last season, he was the runaway favorite to win the Heisman. That fell apart down the stretch and now, after missing a second game this season with injury, Fournette is finished in the 2016 Heisman race before he even really got started. He doesn’t even lead his own team in rushing.
QB Trevor Knight, Texas A&M: The Aggies have to keep winning and he needs to deliver big-time performances against Tennessee, Alabama, Ole Miss and LSU down the stretch. Outdueling Josh Dobbs this weekend would be a good first step. Knight ranks third nationally among quarterbacks in rushing yards (392) and touchdowns (6) and is 13th in total yards (1,653). So we’re saying there’s a (slim) chance.
QB Josh Dobbs, Tennessee: Same deal. The Volunteers must keep winning, starting Saturday on the road against Knight and the Aggies. Dobbs has produced 1,302 total yards and 18 touchdowns in five games and came up clutch in comeback wins over Virginia Tech, Florida and Georgia, but he’s also prone to big mistakes. No one in the SEC has thrown more interceptions than his 6.
— Andrew Toltzis (@toltzis) October 2, 2016
WORTH A LOOK
DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee: With his defense decimated by injury, Barnett became a one-man wrecking crew against the Gators and Bulldogs, racking up 5 ½ tackles for loss, 4 sacks and a forced fumble the Vols recovered for a touchdown. He’s up to 41 ½ career tackles for loss and 24 sacks. Defensive players rarely get serious Heisman consideration, but he’s certainly worthy.
QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville: He did everything he could to deliver a victory at Clemson. Jackson passed for 295 yards and rushed for 162, but the Cardinals — by no fault of his — came up 3 yards short in the final seconds. He still leads the nation in total offense (2,313 yards), touchdowns (28) and tweets about his greatness.
QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson: Watson overcame 3 interceptions against Louisville and rivaled Jackson’s production with 306 yards passing, 91 rushing and 5 touchdowns. Winning matters to Heisman voters, and Watson’s Tigers are still undefeated.
BEST OF | ???
— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) October 2, 2016
QB J.T. Barrett, Ohio State: Poor Rutgers. Barrett sliced and diced his way to 284 total yards and 4 touchdowns in a light-work, 58-0 rout. The Buckeyes also remain unbeaten and Barrett has 17 total touchdowns with just 2 interceptions.
QB Greg Ward Jr., Houston: He produced 454 total yards in a rout of Connecticut and is up to 1,503 total yards and 13 touchdowns with 2 interceptions in four games. America needs him and Jackson to keep shining and winning until they meet on Nov. 17.
Check out Greg Ward's running ability https://t.co/112IOfSFJc
— Awful White QBs (@AwfulWhiteQBs) September 30, 2016
RB Christian McCaffrey: He laid an egg in a blowout loss to Washington, rushing for just 49 yards and catching 5 passes for 30 yards. McCaffrey did have a 57-yard kickoff return and finished with 144 yards on special teams, but it was an undeniably off night.
RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State: His team might be tanking, but Cook has thrust himself back into the Heisman race the last two weeks with 329 yards rushing and receiving against South Florida and 246 against North Carolina. He’s up to 921 all-purpose yards in five games.
RB Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State: He’s only played four games and still leads the nation in total rushing yards (750). His 187.5 per game ranks No. 1 by a much wider margin. He’s averaging 7.7 yards per carry and has 8 touchdowns.
IF WE VOTED TODAY
- Lamar Jackson
- Greg Ward Jr.
- Deshaun Watson