Heisman Trophy 2017: Ranking the Top 10 Candidates Ahead of Week 11

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistNovember 8, 2017

Heisman Trophy 2017: Ranking the Top 10 Candidates Ahead of Week 11

0 of 10

    Brett Deering/Getty Images

    Not only did Week 10's upsets alter college football's Top 25, the chaos also altered the outlook of the Heisman Trophy rankings.

    Baker Mayfield unleashed a legendary performance in the Bedlam rivalry, rocketing to the pinnacle of the watch list. The struggles of Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett and Penn State running back Saquon Barkley in losses aided Mayfield's rise.

    Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor quietly put together another outstanding day, while the Heisman candidacy of Notre Dame star Josh Adams took an indirect hit.

    The list of legitimate candidates is narrowing, but two quarterbacksAlabama's Jalen Hurts and UCF's McKenzie Miltonshould also be monitored down the stretch. Arizona's Khalil Tate is also one more explosive day from being a threat to steal non-winning votes.

    Factors for the rankings include total production, key performances and historical trends, such as position and team record.

10. McKenzie Milton, QB, UCF

1 of 10

    Cooper Neill/Getty Images

    By the numbers

    McKenzie Milton has posted a completion mark of 70 percent, 11.1 yards per attempt and a 189.1 rating. Each ranks second nationally only behind Mayfield. Milton has accounted for 2,707 total yards and 23 touchdowns while tossing just five interceptions.

          

    Signature moment

    Despite guiding UCF to an 8-0 record, the sophomore hasn't needed a key moment. The Knights, quite impressively, have seven victories of 10-plus points. If they win two more games, Milton can demand national attention when UCF hosts Charlie Strong and South Florida in the regular-season finale.

           

    Week 11 prediction

    Over the last two weeks, Connecticut surrendered 886 total yards and eight touchdowns to Missouri's Drew Lock and South Florida's Quinton Flowers. Even if Milton throws a pick, he should still reach 300 yards of offense and three scores.

9. Khalil Tate, QB, Arizona

2 of 10

    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    By the numbers

    "Late riser" might be a generous term. Khalil Tate basically watched all of September from the sideline before exploding in October. Since entering the Oct. 7 game against Colorado early in the first quarter, he's racked up 1,890 yards of total offenseincluding 1,001 on the groundand 17 touchdowns while propelling Arizona to a 4-1 record.

          

    Signature moment

    Can there be a bigger surprise than going from zero stats in a game to tallying 327 rushing yards the next week? Tate did exactly that in Week 6 while also throwing for 154 yards and totaling five scores during a 45-42 victory over Colorado.

          

    Week 11 prediction

    Since the school and head coach Gary Andersen parted ways a month ago, Oregon State hasn't been a total sieve defensively. Still, Cal notched 475 yards of offense last week. Tate will assemble his sixth straight outing of 100-plus yards through the air and on the ground.

8. J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State

3 of 10

    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    By the numbers

    Even after a dreadful four-interception day at Iowa, J.T. Barrett offers a 67.5 completion percentage with 263.8 yards per game and 28 touchdowns to five picks. Throw in 517 rushing yards and five more scores, and those numbers are unwise to ignore.

        

    Signature moment

    Struggles in losses against Oklahoma and Iowa are notable blemishes on Barrett's resume, but his 18-point comeback over Penn State remains extremely impressive. He set an Ohio State record with 423 total offensive yards and completed 33 of 39 passes with four touchdowns in a thrilling 39-38 finish.

        

    Week 11 prediction

    Barrett is still on the Heisman periphery because two contests opposite ranked teams are left on the slate. Michigan State's defense presents a tough matchup, but the unit tends to allow a few more yards on the road. Barrett should have 225 total yards and a couple of touchdowns in a low-scoring win.

7. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

4 of 10

    By the numbers

    Mayfield closed the gap during Lamar Jackson's bye week, but Louisville's star remains the only player with 400-plus yards of total offense per game. His 426.3-yard average is still 47.7 yards clear of the Oklahoma standout. Jackson has amassed 32 total touchdowns compared to six interceptions this year.

        

    Signature moment

    In Week 8, Jackson tied the then-largest output by a quarterback against Florida State. He posted 334 total yards and led a game-winning drive to clip the Seminoles on the road. Jackson scampered for 178 yards with two combined scores in the 31-28 upset.

        

    Week 11 prediction

    Virginia should be confident after edging Georgia Tech and earning bowl eligibility last week. The defense has been average at preventing big plays, so Jackson won't shred the Cavaliers but still has the opportunity for a couple of explosive gains. Jackson should record 350 yards of offense during a close win.

6. Jalen Hurts, QB, Alabama

5 of 10

    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    By the numbers

    Jalen Hurts accounted for 227 yards in a 24-10 triumph over LSU, setting a program record in the process. The sophomore scored the 20th rushing touchdown of his young career, breaking a 70-year-old mark by a quarterback. He now has 2,022 total yards and 17 touchdowns while helping Alabama to a 9-0 start.

         

    Signature moment

    For now, Hurts' biggest appeal is the combination of zero losses and only two turnovers. LSU offered the potential of a key play, but the Crimson Tide never trailed during the rivalry clash. Upcoming matchups with Mississippi State and Auburn could provide the lasting Heisman moment.

         

    Week 11 prediction

    Mississippi State needed two non-offensive scores to survive UMass in Week 10, so the chances of an upset are slim. But the defense should not be discounted. Even though the outcome probably won't be in doubt for long, Hurts will earn every bit of his 250 yards and three touchdowns on the road.

5. Josh Adams, RB, Notre Dame

6 of 10

    By the numbers

    Josh Adams only handled five carries in Notre Dame's win over Wake Forest, so his total production hasn't changed much. He ranks No. 9 nationally with 1,191 rushing yardsas well as No. 6 with an 8.7-yard average per carryand has scored nine touchdowns.

        

    Signature moment

    USC entered Week 8 with dreams of a marquee win, but Adams dented, fractured and shattered those aspirations. He crossed the goal line three times, highlighted by an 84-yard scamper that sealed the victory for Notre Dame. The junior amassed 191 yards during the 49-14 smackdown.

         

    Week 11 prediction

    Head coach Brian Kelly told reporters Adams wasn't feeling right in Week 10 but will return for the showdown with Miami. Although the Hurricanes are pretty stingy against the run, they'll surrender a handful of 10-yard chunks. Adams should eclipse the century mark.

4. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin

7 of 10

    By the numbers

    Jonathan Taylor isn't getting the widespread Heisman attention he deserves. The freshman has accumulated 1,368 yards at 7.2 per carry, which ranks fourth among players who are averaging 15 attempts. He has 12 touchdowns for an undefeated Wisconsin team.

         

    Signature moment

    For all the talk about a mediocre schedule, the Badgers haven't left any doubt about the superior team. And when they actually needed a big play in Week 6 against Nebraska, Taylor provided it. He ripped off a 75-yard touchdown during a 249-yard outburst, one of his three 200-yard explosions this year.

         

    Week 11 prediction

    Iowa is fulfilling its annual role of being a confusing opponent. The Hawkeyeswho just obliterated Ohio State but recently lost to Northwesternshould stay close with Wisconsin, and a key reason will be containing Taylor. But "contain" and "shut down" are quite different. He'll hit 100 yards in a contested win.

3. Bryce Love, RB, Stanford

8 of 10

    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    By the numbers

    Bryce Love extended his streak of a 50-yard run in every game this season with a 52-yard scamper at Washington State. That was his only highlight, but the junior is still leading the FBS at 182 rushing yards per game and at each 10-yard increment of 20- to 50-yard gains. Love has 1,456 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns.

         

    Signature moment

    In Week 5, the speedster danced around and sped past Arizona State for 301 yards to break the school's single-game record. But after missing Week 9's tilt against Oregon State and managing 69 last week, Love probably needs a new memorable moment to sway voters.

         

    Week 11 prediction

    Fortunately for him, that opportunity comes this week. Stanford will host Washington for a Friday night clash. Unfortunately for Love, the Huskies boast one of three defenses that haven't given up a single run of 30-plus yards. It'll be a frustrating day, and his Heisman candidacy could take a damaging hit.

2. Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

9 of 10

    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    By the numbers

    The last two weekends haven't been kind to Saquon Barkley. Since a 97-yard kickoff return to open the game at Ohio State, he's managed just 186 all-purpose yards on 45 touches. Nevertheless, Barkley ranks second in the country with 195.7 all-purpose yards per game and has been part of 15 touchdowns.

           

    Signature moment

    In Week 8, Barkley wasted no time showing Michigan it was in for a long day. His first offensive touch was a 69-yard run to the house, and the junior finished that 42-13 blowout with 176 all-purpose yards and three scores.

         

    Week 11 prediction

    After two disappointing games, Barkley has a favorable matchup with Rutgers. The Knights are improved defensively, but top Big Ten teamsOhio State and Michigancombined for three 100-yard rushers. Barkley will bounce back and touch the 200-yard mark with a majority of his yards on the ground.

1. Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

10 of 10

    By the numbers

    Baker Mayfield is now leading the nation in several passing categories following a 598-yard detonation during Bedlam. He's atop the charts for completion percentage (71.7), yards per attempt (11.9) and rating (201.6). Additionally, the senior checks in at No. 2 in yards per game (358.4) and No. 3 in touchdowns (28).

          

    Signature moment

    Last week, Mayfield picked apart Oklahoma State in a 62-52 track meet. His 598 yards set a program record, and he totaled six touchdowns. That performance is undoubtedly the most convincing Heisman moment entering Week 11.

        

    Week 11 prediction

    During the last four games, TCU's defense has eliminated the opponent's running game and surrendered no more than 263 yards. This will be Mayfield's biggest test of the season, but he should respond to the challenge and throw for 350 yards to propel an unbalanced offense at home.