Does Penn State Nittany Lions running back Saquon Barkley still lead the way as the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy?
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
5) Rashaad Penny – RB – San Diego State
The senior running back exploded for 170 yards on 27 rushes against UNLV after compiling his worst game of the year in Week 5. His worst game of the year wasn’t even bad which makes Penny all the more impressive. In Week 5, against Northern Illinois, Penny rushed for 107 yards on 25 carries without tallying a touchdown. Penny’s game against UNLV was the fourth time in 2017 he rushed for at least 170 yards and he also scored his eighth and ninth touchdowns of the year. Penny will face off against a stout Boise State run defense in Week 7. Through five games, Boise State has allowed an average of 106 yards rushing per game. If Penny can show out against a tough running defense like Boise State, he may have a chance to move up the Heisman Rankings.
4) Baker Mayfield – QB – Oklahoma
Despite a terrible loss to Iowa State in Week 6, Mayfield still remains in the top five for Heisman contenders. Mayfield did what he could against the Cyclones defense, completing 73 percent of his passes. On the day, Mayfield completed 24 of 33 passes for 306 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. Mayfield also added a rushing touchdown and 57 yards on the ground. He continues to lead the country in pass completion percentage (74.63) and passing efficiency rating (214.06). The loss hurts Mayfield’s chances at winning the Heisman but there is plenty of time left in the season for him to make up for it. Mayfield will have a shot to put this loss behind him as the Sooners take on the Texas Longhorns in Week 7.
3) Luke Falk – QB – Washington State
Luke Falk may be a product of Mike Leach’s pass-heavy offense and it could work against him in the official Heisman voting. But not for these rankings and not with the numbers Falk is putting up. Falk leads the country in pass completions (188) and passing touchdowns (19) while completing 71.8 percent of his passes. His accuracy remains a strength and has helped him compile a 19/2 TD/INT ratio. In the Cougars game against Oregon, a tough road matchup, Falk passed for 282 yards on 24-for-42 passing with three touchdowns. It definitely was not his best game of the season but it was not his worst. More importantly, Falk and the Cougars came out of Oregon with their perfect record still intact. Falk will take on the struggling California Golden Bears on Friday night in a short week. Their defense has given up an average of 264 passing yards but Falk will do his best to increase that average.
2) Bryce Love – RB – Stanford
The junior running back is averaging an astronomical 10.5 yards per carry on 118 rushing attempts. Love has not rushed for less than 152 yards in a game all year. His lowest total (152) came last week against Utah on 20 carries. The week prior against Arizona State, Bryce had his coming out party by averaging 12 yards per carry on 25 carries for a total of 301 yards and three touchdowns. Love and the Stanford Cardinals will head to Oregon to face a stout run defense that only gives up 94 yards per game for an average of 2.7 yards per carry. It will be a telling sign of Love’s rushing competence to see how he does against a defense that excels against the run game.
1) Saquon Barkley – RB – Penn State
The junior running back hasn’t had the best stretch of games but he remains the most exciting player in college football due to his ability to break a long, game changing run at any moment. Barkley has rushed for over 100 yards only twice through six games but he continues to face defenses that regularly focus on taking him out of the game plan. After the Nittany Lions’ game at Iowa in Week 4 in which Barkley ran for 211 yards and one touchdown, Barkley has run for 131 yards on 36 carries in the following two games. One glaring difference between Barkley and Bryce Love is Barkley remains a factor in the passing game. Barkley has caught 29 passes for 395 yards and two touchdowns including a 12-catch performance against Iowa in Week 4. Barkley and the unbeaten Nittany Lions are on a much needed bye week after facing a tough Northwestern run defense before inviting the Michigan Wolverines to Happy Valley for a Week 8 matchup.