Ranking Heisman Contenders' Performances After Week 7 of College Football

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistOctober 15, 2019

Ranking Heisman Contenders' Performances After Week 7 of College Football

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    As the college football season rolls along, it's becoming increasingly clear that the 2019 Heisman Trophy has a three-man race.

    Yet again, quarterbacks Joe Burrow, Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa put together the most impressive showings among the award's top contenders. And in Week 7, all three of them toppled Top 25 opponents. Hurts might've even had his "Heisman moment."

    Remember, the following rankings are a reflection of what happened in Week 7nothing more, nothing less. The lowest-ranked player isn't necessarily in danger of leaving the top 10, though that happens to be the case this week.

    Factors used to shape the order include individual production, key plays, team success and competition level. Accompanying odds are accurate as of Monday and courtesy of Caesars.

    Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields (9-1) and Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard (25-1) were idle and will not be ranked. Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm (250-1) and Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford (250-1) are next up but clearly long shots.

7. Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas

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    Last Week's Heisman Odds: 40-1

    Current Heisman Odds: 75-1

    Stats (L 34-27 vs. Oklahoma): 25-of-37, 205 YDS, 0 TD, 0 INT; 23 CAR, -9 YDS, 2 TD

    The Longhorns had a poor offensive showing at the worst possible time. But it's unfair to place too much blame on Sam Ehlinger when the coaching staff didn't provide much assistance.

    After the game, Texas head coach Tom Herman said Oklahoma didn't blitz more than anticipated. Yet the Sooners amassed 15 tackles for loss with nine sacks. The Longhorns repeatedly tried to win on the perimeter, continually failed and still didn't adjust.

    Ehlinger didn't have any turnovers and managed 62 rushing yards on 14 non-sack attempts. Ultimately, he kept the Longhorns within range despite a poor day from Herman and his staff.

    That's not going to save his fading Heisman candidacy. It's not even a moral victory. Ehlinger could play better, but Texas didn't put him in a position to succeed.

    What's next: vs. Kansas

6. Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

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    Last Week's Heisman Odds: 60-1

    Current Heisman Odds: 75-1

    Stats (W 45-3 vs. Colorado): 18-of-32, 261 YDS, 2 TD, 0 INT

    Week 7 was another solid outing for Justin Herbert, who has basically rented a space on the periphery of the Heisman Trophy discussion.

    The Ducks cruised to a 42-point smackdown of Colorado, while Herbert threw for 261 yards and two touchdowns. He hit Jacob Freeland for an early score and zipped an impressive pass to Jaylon Redd, turning a pair of red-zone third downs into touchdowns.

    Once again, Herbert padded his NFL draft resume. Still, he's not a serious Heisman threat. We don't want to spark any unrealistic thoughts in regard to the honor.

    If Herbert is going to make a leap on the odds list, a road game against No. 25 Washington is the best remaining option. That matchup awaits in Week 8.

    What's next: at Washington

5. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin

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    Last Week's Heisman Odds: 18-1

    Current Heisman Odds: 15-1

    Stats (W 38-0 vs. Michigan State): 26 CAR, 80 YDS, 2 TD; 3 REC, 22 YDS

    The streak is dead. Long live the streak.

    Michigan State held Jonathan Taylor below 100 rushing yards, ending the superstar's run of 10 straight triple-digit performances. But he still scored twice in a 38-0 rout, so Taylor and the Badgers earned the last laugh anyway.

    In reality, Taylor would probably need several 200-yard performances to be a legitimate threat to win the Heisman. As it stands, though, he's building a terrific case for a finalist invite.

    What's next: at Illinois

4. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

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    Last Week's Heisman Odds: 50-1

    Current Heisman Odds: 25-1

    Stats (W 45-14 vs. Florida State): 17-of-25, 170 YDS, 3 TD, 1 INT; 6 CAR, 40 YDS, 1 TD

    Trevor Lawrence continues to make one horrible decision every game. This week, it was attempting a pass straight down the sideline and finding Florida State safety Hamsah Nasirildeen instead.

    And that about wraps up the negative!

    The sophomore was responsible for a quartet of touchdowns, all of which happened in the first half. Lawrence helped Clemson build a 28-0 advantage, and a couple of quick scores in the third quarter iced the blowout victory for the Tigers.

    Lawrence doesn't have the overwhelming stats that are typical of today's Heisman winners, and a surge to overtakes his competitor is unlikely. He's fading from Heisman contention in 2020.

    Clemson is still the most likely College Football Playoff qualifier, though. For Lawrence, that's surely more important anyway.

    What's next: at Louisville

3. Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma

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    Last Week's Heisman Odds: 9-4

    Current Heisman Odds: 11-4

    Stats (W 34-27 vs. Texas): 16-of-28, 235 YDS, 3 TD, 1 INT; 17 CAR, 131 YDS, 1 TD

    If you remained skeptical about Jalen Hurts and his progress, the evidence is slowlyvery, very slowlystarting to appear. During the win over Texas, he committed two turnovers and wasn't effective when not targeting his No. 1 wideout.

    Fortunately for Oklahoma, CeeDee Lamb is really good. He caught 10 passes for 171 yards and all three of Hurts' passing scores.

    Nevertheless, the Alabama transfer made a few pivotal plays in the fourth quarter. Texas trimmed a 10-point lead to three and then again to seven, but Hurts responded with touchdowns on both ensuing drives. A late 10-yard run iced the rivalry win.

    Throw in his stunning behind-the-back ball transfer before converting a third down, and Hurts may have had his Heisman moment too.

    What's next: vs. West Virginia

2. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

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    Last Week's Heisman Odds: 2-3

    Current Heisman Odds: 5-6

    Stats (W 47-28 at Texas A&M): 21-of-34, 293 YDS, 4 TD, 1 INT

    Tua Tagovailoa has received some criticism lately because Alabama leans heavily on slant routes. Maybe that's what happens when everything is so productive and there's no real negative to discuss?

    Borrrrrr-ing.

    Tagovailoa threw his first interception of the season at Texas A&M, making a bad decision―it was late and over the middle, a horrible combination. That's a legitimate critique of the junior. He otherwise shredded the Aggies, throwing a touchdown in four different ways (screen, slant, scramble and vertical).

    With those four scores, the current Heisman favorite passed AJ McCarron to become Alabama's all-time leader in career touchdown passes (81).

    What's next: vs. Tennessee

1. Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

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    Last Week's Heisman Odds: 7-2

    Current Heisman Odds: 11-4

    Stats (W 42-28 vs. Florida): 21-of-24, 293 YDS, 3 TD, 0 INT; 6 CAR, 43 YDS

    Heading into Week 7, a stingy Florida defense had surrendered four passing touchdowns in six games. No opponent had registered more than 7.6 yards per pass attempt.

    None of that mattered to Joe Burrow.

    The senior led LSU to 511 yards on a mere 48 snaps, averaging 12.2 per pass while tossing three scores. Burrow's last touchdowna 54-yard strike to Ja'Marr Chasesealed the critical win.

    Halfway through the regular season, Burrow has 2,157 passing yards and 25 touchdowns. The program's single-year records of 3,347 yards and 28 scores appear to be destined to fall.

    What's next: at Mississippi State