As is the case with the College Football Playoff, the final sprint for the Heisman Trophy is shaping to be a four-man race.
Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson, Donnel Pumphrey and Jake Browning have separated themselves from the pack to stand alone. Meanwhile, the fifth spot has alternated between a number of contenders, including Michigan’s Jabril Peppers and Florida State’s Dalvin Cook.
But it’s nearly impossible to see any one player other than the current top four lift the Heisman in Manhattan in December. It might even be difficult to see a player other than Jackson be awarded the trophy.
Here’s this week’s top five and players just off the list:
1. Louisville QB Lamar Jackson
With games still to come against Houston and Kentucky, Jackson seems poised to come away with the Heisman should Louisville complete a one-loss regular season. He does have Watson looking over his shoulder, however.
2. Clemson QB Deshaun Watson
Watson’s candidacy rests on his numbers, which are still very solid despite a slight decline from last season; his team’s unbeaten record and place among the top four in the Playoff rankings; and the Tigers’ head-to-head win against Jackson and Louisville. It’s a pretty strong case.
3. San Diego State RB Donnel Pumphrey
Pumphrey once again cracked the 100-yard mark in San Diego State’s easy win against Hawaii, keeping the senior on pace to lead the nation in rushing and charge at Ron Dayne’s career rushing record. It would be a crime if Pumphrey doesn’t get an invite to New York for the Heisman ceremony.
4. Washington QB Jake Browning
Browning will face a very good test and have a very good platform in Washington’s game against Southern California. The Trojans are improved, and should give the Huskies a game, but another strong showing against a premier opponent will cement Browning’s place among college football’s elite.
5. Texas RB D’Onta Foreman
Let’s save this spot for Foreman, who has turned around the Longhorns’ season, put up some incredible numbers and may even save Charlie Strong’s job. His team’s average record will keep Foreman out of the top two or three contenders, but he deserves a little recognition.