The SEC has one shot at extending its streak of 10 straight years with a Heisman finalist, and he’s played exactly 10 college games. But he also plays for Alabama, which has sent a player to New York for the ceremony five times in the last seven seasons.
Sadly, the Iron Bowl won’t be the College Football Playoff play-in and collision of Heisman hopefuls we expected, but it could become a showcase for the Crimson Tide’s contender in the stiff-arm trophy race.
WORTH THE TRIP
QB Jalen Hurts, Alabama: Hurts has snuck back onto this Heisman voter’s ballot. Sure, he’s flawed, but the true freshman keeps showing signs of growth despite facing SEC defenses every week. After becoming the first player in the Crimson Tide’s rich history to throw for 300-plus and run for 100-plus yards in a single game (447 total yards, 5 TD against Mississippi State), he’s on pace to have about 2,600 passing yards, 1,000 rushing yards and 35 total touchdowns after the SEC championship game, when votes are due.
If Hurts, who was playing high school teams last season, puts up those numbers while leading Alabama to a 13-0 record and the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff, invite the kid to New York. No, he’s not beating Lamar Jackson. That’s long been established. But a Heisman ballot requires three names, and Alabama’s dazzling rookie QB keeps stating his case to be on Line 2 or 3.
— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) November 12, 2016
RB Kamryn Pettway, Auburn: Just as quickly as we put the big bulldozer on our watch list, he sat out Saturday’s loss to Georgia, which ended the Tigers’ College Football Playoff hopes and any faint Heisman hype Pettway was building. The fact remains, he’s rushed for an SEC-best 1,106 yards in just seven games. But he’s up to three games without a single carry this season (he sat out two of those) and there’s just not enough time left to put up New York-worthy numbers.
QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville: The Cardinals survived another scare against Wake Forest because Jackson took over again. On an off night, he ran for 153 yards (his seventh 100-plus performance) and threw for 145. His totals: 2,898 yards passing, 1,334 yards rushing, 46 total touchdowns, 6 interceptions. The Heisman still has his name on it.
In his postgame presser, this is one of the plays that Petrino said told him the most about Lamar Jackson. pic.twitter.com/iBtlrRnCue
— Mark Ennis (@MarkEnnis) November 13, 2016
QB Jake Browning, Washington: Browning faltered in the Huskies’ first loss of the season, completing a season-worst 47.2 percent of his passes with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. That’s a major blow to already faint Heisman hopes despite his 39 total touchdowns and just 5 interceptions for the season. There’s little room for error in a race with Jackson.
— Kels Dayton (@KelsDayton) November 13, 2016
LB Jabrill Peppers, Michigan: Mr. Do Everything had a fairly pedestrian day in a stunning loss to Iowa: 46 all-purpose yards (4 rushes, one punt and one kickoff return) and 5 tackles, none for loss. He’s still a viable Heisman candidate (638 all-purpose yards, 4 TD, 14 tackles for loss), but that performance didn’t help.
RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State: His 120 total yards from scrimmage against Boston College won’t move the needle, but the explosive junior is up to 1,242 yards rushing, 400 receiving. He might get to New York, but he isn’t threatening Jackson.
RB Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State: He leads the nation in rushing yards (1,779) after rumbling for 198 in a win at Nevada for 9-1 Aztecs. The 5-foot-9, 180-pound mighty mite is closing in on 2,000 yards and deserves a ticket to New York.
QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson: Watson threw seventy passes (and completed fifty-two) against Pittsburgh. He passed for 580 yards and 3 touchdowns. So what’s the problem? Three more interceptions, including a late pick that cost Clemson dearly in a 43-42 loss. Watson has now thrown for 3,077 yards and 27 touchdowns, but 13 interceptions is too many.
RB D’Onta Foreman, Texas: He’d be a household name if the Longhorns weren’t 5-5. Foreman has rushed for at least 124 yards in each of the nine games he’s played this season, including an incredible 758 yards the last three games. He has 1,613 for the season and his average of 179.2 per game leads the nation.
— Texas Football (@Longhorn_FB) November 9, 2016
IF WE VOTED TODAY
- Lamar Jackson
- Donnel Pumphrey
- Jalen Hurts