Ranking Heisman Contenders' Performances After Week 2 of College Football

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistSeptember 10, 2019

Ranking Heisman Contenders' Performances After Week 2 of College Football

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    Joe Burrow vaulted his way into the Heisman Trophy conversation after a tremendous Week 1 showing, but a Week 2 domination of Texas cemented his place as a contender.

    Each week, Bleacher Report is reviewing the performances of the players who held the best Heisman odds entering that slate.

    One critical note: The rankings do not reflect a new list of favorites; rather, they specifically outline which players did the best—in this case—in Week 2. The list of players is likely to change each week but will always hinge on the most recent Heisman odds.

    For example, that means to expect Nebraska's Adrian Martinez to fall off the radar in the near future.

    Note: Three players, including Martinez and Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm, entered Week 2 with 30-1 odds, so preseason odds were used as the tiebreaker.

    Preseason odds courtesy of Action Network's tracker.

10. Adrian Martinez, QB, Nebraska

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Week 1 odds: 30-1

    Week 2 stats (at Colorado, L 34-31): 16-of-26, 290 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT; 19 carries, 66 yards, 2 TD

    What's next: vs. Northern Illinois

    For a half, it appeared Nebraska had steadied itself. After a subpar opening win over South Alabama, the Cornhuskers bounced back and took at 17-0 advantage into the locker room at Colorado.

    The rivalry went downhill from there.

    Nebraska punted on all four possessions in the third quarter, and then Martinez committed two turnovers in the fourth. His fumble led to Colorado's game-tying field goal. Martinez took a seven-yard sack on the only pass play in overtime, too.

    Martinez might stay in the Heisman conversation briefly, but his candidacy is looking weak right now.

9. Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Week 1 odds: 30-1

    Week 2 stats (vs. Murray State, W 63-17): 10-of-11, 166 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT

    What's next: vs. Arkansas State

    Georgia smashed an FCS opponent and turned to its second-string quarterback before halftime. Given the run-first style the Bulldogs play, Jake Fromm was never going to have great numbers.

    Nevertheless, he oversaw four touchdown drives and capped his night with a 15-yard scoring toss to freshman George Pickens.

    Fromm is a bit overrated as a Heisman contender because of his mediocre statistical upside. If he's throwing a lot, it means Georgia is losing. As long as the Dawgs keep winning, Fromm will stay in the picture yet never really be a threat, either.

8. Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson

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    Week 1 odds: 8-1

    Week 2 stats (vs. Texas A&M, W 24-10): 16 carries, 53 yards; four receptions, 52 yards

    What's next: at Syracuse

    All things considered, Travis Etienne providing more than 100 total yards in a victory over No. 12 Texas A&M is pretty good. Not great, but nowhere close to bad.

    The visiting Aggies did a great job containing Etienne, who demanded Heisman attention with his 205-yard, three-touchdown outburst against Georgia Tech in the opener.

    However, this should only be a one-week blip.

    Etienne scampered for a then-career-best 203 yards and three scores to edge Syracuse in 2018, and the Orange just surrendered 354 rushing yards to Maryland. He's likely to have an explosive day on the ground at the Carrier Dome.

7. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Week 1 odds: 3-1

    Week 2 stats (vs. Texas A&M, W 24-10): 24-of-35, 268 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 1 rushing TD

    What's next: vs. Syracuse

    Since the Aggies were able to slow Etienne on the ground, Clemson leaned quite heavily on Trevor Lawrence. The sophomore responded with a superb showing in the win over Texas A&M.

    Without question, his marquee throw was the 30-yard touchdown to Justyn Ross. On 3rd-and-11, Lawrence evaded pressure in the pocket, stepped up and rolled left, squared his shoulders and lofted a perfectly placed ball to Ross in the end zone.

    Lawrence hit a couple of other impressive throws and added his second rushing score of the young season.

    As usual, though, he could've been better. In addition to Clemson's 3-of-9 mark on third down, Lawrence underthrew a should-be touchdown and was intercepted. Given the 24-3 score late in the fourth quarter, it didn't impact the result. Still, he won't be pleased about missing that throw so badly.

6. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    Week 1 odds: 18-1

    Week 2 stats (vs. Central Michigan, W 61-0): 19 carries, 102 yards, 3 TD; three receptions, 17 yards, 1 TD

    What's next: Idle

    Ho-hum, another 100-yard day for Jonathan Taylor. He's now surpassed the century mark in 24 of his 29 college games.

    Central Michigan actually limited him to 5.4 yards per carry, the seventh-lowest average of his career. Still, Taylor rumbled into the end zone three times and caught a fourth touchdown.

    "He is well-deserving to be in that Heisman race," CMU coach Jim McElwain said, per Keith Jenkins of the Associated Press. "I really like the way he plays the game. I think he's a good player, and people in the Big Ten are going to have to wrap him up."

    Michigan is typically an elite run defense and has surrendered only three yards per carry this year, so Taylor's next test is a massive one.

5. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

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    Week 1 odds: 5-1

    Week 2 stats (vs. NMSU, W 62-10): 16-of-24, 227 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT; two carries, 33 yards, 1 TD

    What's next: at South Carolina

    New Mexico State never had a chance. Tua Tagovalioa led seven scoring drives in the nine possessions he played, building a 45-0 lead for Alabama before taking a place on the sideline.

    Beyond his two scores to Jerry Jeudy, the southpaw found Henry Ruggs III for a touchdown and scampered 25 yards for another. As the CFB world has come to expect, he showed excellent poise, touch and accuracy throughout the game.

    South Carolina should be Alabama's best competition to date, but Tagovailoa is likely to overwhelm the SEC squad anyway.

4. Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma

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    Brett Deering/Getty Images

    Week 1 odds: 4-1

    Week 2 stats (vs. South Dakota, W 70-14): 14-of-18, 259 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT; eight carries, 47 yards

    What's next: at UCLA

    Jalen Hurts performed exactly as expected in Week 2.

    Against a completely outmatched South Dakota side, the Alabama transfer led five touchdown drives on seven possessions. He exited the game midway through the third quarter.

    "There's still a lot to get better at throughout the flow of the game, but he manages and stays composed," head coach Lincoln Riley said, per the OU Daily. "Thought he made some really, really nice down-the-field throws ... some big-boy throws."

    Since UCLA allowed nine-plus yards per pass attempt to Cincinnati and San Diego State, Hurts seems headed for another massive stat line in Week 3.

3. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

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    Week 1 odds: 12-1

    Week 2 stats (vs. Cincinnati, W 42-0): 20-of-25, 224 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT; nine carries, 42 yards, 2 TD

    What's next: at Indiana

    This Heisman train is picking up steam.

    After throwing four touchdowns and running for another in his Ohio State debut, Justin Fields assembled another superb day. He picked apart a very good Cincinnati defense for 266 total yards and four touchdowns in a shutout win.

    "Overall I thought it was a solid performance but another step in his progression," Buckeyes coach Ryan Day said of Fields.

    Tagovailoa, Hurts and Fields had comparable production, but the level of competition gives Fields the slight edge for the No. 2 spot in Week 2.

2. Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    Week 1 odds: 25-1

    Week 2 stats (vs. LSU, L 45-38): 31-of-47, 401 yards, 4 TD, 0 INT; 19 carries, 60 yards, 1 TD

    What's next: at Rice

    Does this conversation have a different tune if Keaontay Ingram catches his wide-open fourth-down target in the first quarter?

    That question may end up haunting Texas, which no longer has a margin for error in its pursuit of the 2019 College Football Playoff. Though it's not a "bright side," the Longhorns do still have a Heisman contender.

    Sam Ehlinger topped the 400-yard mark for the first time in his career and matched his personal high of five touchdowns accounted for. Ehlinger gave Texas a real shot to upend a scorching LSU team.

    But the Longhorns won't forget their pair of goal-line failures in the opening frame anytime soon.

1. Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    Week 1 odds: 25-1

    Week 2 stats (at Texas, W 45-38): 31-of-39, 471 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT

    What's next: vs. Northwestern State

    LSU looked great in its opening game. Joe Burrow lit up the field with 278 yards and five touchdowns in a brand-new offense. Still, it was against Georgia Southern. Would his head coach's and coordinator's old habits die hard against better competition?

    Short answer: Nope.

    The revamped scoring attack was spectacular at Texas, and Burrow was the difference in the result. After a three-and-out to begin the second half, LSU scored on every remaining drive until its game-ending kneel-down. Since the Longhorns put up points on every second-half possession, it was necessary, too.

    LSU has 10 regular-season games remaining, and a whole lot can happen between now and December. But there is an evident path for Burrow to be a Heisman finalist.


    All recruiting information via 247Sports. Stats from NCAA.com, cfbstats.com or B/R research. Follow Bleacher Report college football writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.