Ranking Each Heisman Contender After Week 10 of College Football

Brad Shepard@@Brad_ShepardFeatured ColumnistNovember 5, 2019

Ranking Each Heisman Contender After Week 10 of College Football

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    With most of the Heisman Trophy contenders (and top teams, for that matter) being off last week, not much changed in the race for most college football's most outstanding player. That doesn't mean we were devoid of a shake-up. 

    Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard made a major move with his huge performance against TCU.

    Also, it's going to be interesting to see how voters stack Chase Young up against all the offensive players. It's been a while since there was a legit defensive candidate, but the Ohio State defensive end fits the bill.

    There are some massive separation games this weekend, not only in the polls but also in the race for college football's top award. There's no question everybody will be watching LSU-Alabama to see whether Joe Burrow or Tua Tagovailoa is left standing and what they did to help their team win the epic showdown.

    Ohio State is back in action, too, and will it be Young or quarterback Justin Fields who emerges as the Buckeyes' top candidate?

    There's a lot to sort out, so let's take a look at the top Heisman contenders after Week 10 of college football. The order reflects where the players would be ranked if the season ended today. 

    Odds provided by Caesars.

8. Travis Etienne, Trevor Lawrence and Jonathan Taylor

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    Richard Shiro/Associated Press

    Travis Etienne

    Current Heisman Odds: 75-1

    Stats (W 59-14 vs. Wofford): Nine carries, 212 yards, two touchdowns

    The star Clemson running back is taking a bit of a back seat to a couple other runners this year, but he is still a dynamic force on a team that looks like it's on a collision course with the College Football Playoff again.

    Against the FCS Terriers, he tied for Clemson's all-time total touchdowns lead and broke the school's career rushing touchdowns record.

    Are there enough marquee games remaining with Clemson's light schedule for him to move up?

    He's a true long shot, but games like the one against Wofford will get your attention.

    What's next: at North Carolina State, Saturday


    Trevor Lawrence

    Current Heisman Odds: 75-1

    Stats (W 59-14 vs. Wofford): 12-of-16, 218 yards, three touchdowns (one rushing TD)

    The super sophomore is probably out of the running for college football's top award, but he's improving each week, nonetheless.

    Turnover-prone earlier this year, Lawrence is lighting up defenses when he gets the opportunity, and he's cutting down on mistakes. Much like teammate Etienne, he probably doesn't have enough showcase games to make noise.

    But the best thing for Tigers fans is their offensive leader is rounding into form at the right time.

    What's next: at North Carolina State, Saturday


    Jonathan Taylor

    Current Heisman Odds: 75-1

    Stats (Idle)

    Early in the season, Taylor looked like a lock to be invited to New York. Not anymore. As the Badgers have fallen off the map, so has the junior's Heisman hopes.

    Yes, he had 132 rushing yards in the shocking loss to Illinois, but he found the end zone only once and averaged fewer than five yards per carry. Then in a massive showdown with Ohio State two weeks ago, he was a nonfactor with 57 total yards on 21 touches.

    The damage is likely done, but a big effort this week against Iowa could bolster his slim chances.

    What's next: vs. Iowa, Saturday

7. Justin Herbert, Oregon Quarterback

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    Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

    Last Week's Heisman Odds: 40-1

    Current Heisman Odds: 30-1

    Stats (W 56-24 USC): 21-of-26 passing for 225 yards, three touchdowns and an interception (one rushing touchdown)

    In a huge game for Pac-12 supremacy, the Ducks senior star got off to a shaky start with a first-half interception, but he proved throughout the game he can make all the throws as they reasserted dominance and wound up putting away the Trojans in a big way.

    The interception was just Herbert's second of the season against 24 touchdown passes, and without an elite receiving target, he's distributed the ball around the field the way you'd expect a polished player auditioning for the NFL would do.

    Penn State transfer receiver Juwan Johnson looked strong on Saturday against USC, giving Herbert another weapon at his disposal. If Oregon leans on the pass the rest of the way, Herbert will at least keep the voters' attention.

    With his build, cannon arm and all the intangibles, he's going to make an NFL team very happy, but it's an incredible year for college arms, and it's going to be tough for him to climb all the way up the rankings and usurp the guys at the top.

    Herbert probably isn't that concerned about individual accolades with so much at stake for the Ducks, who still have slim College Football Playoff hopes. With a stellar defense and an all-around attack, Herbert may have to settle for being the leader of the Pac-12's top team. 

    What's next: vs. Arizona, November 16

6. Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State Running Back

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    Last Week's Heisman Odds: 50-1

    Current Heisman Odds: 25-1

    Stats (W 34-27 vs. TCU): 20 carries, 223 yards, two touchdowns

    How long can people ignore what Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard is doing? Of all the Heisman Trophy contenders who played last weekend, nobody did more than the Cowboys' redshirt sophomore.

    Not only is he moving up the rankings, but he's also earning himself a lot of future money in the NFL.

    Hubbard shattered TCU's top-ranked defense in the Big 12 with touchdown runs of 92 and 62 yards, and he piled up 223 rushing yards in a massive home win for coach Mike Gundy's team. This is a Horned Frogs unit that came into the game allowing just 103 yards on the ground per game.

    That was good enough for 15th nationally, but it didn't matter to Hubbard, who proved just how dynamic he is.

    At 6'1", 207 pounds, Hubbard can pummel teams between the tackles, but his real damage is done on the second level. Once he gets past the line of scrimmage, nobody catches him, and that speed is what makes him special.

    This season, he has 1,604 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns. With games against Kansas and West Virginia remaining, he can pile up some big numbers. But the litmus test will come November 30 against Oklahoma.

    If he shreds the Sooners in a game that has national attention, look out. He could become the first running back to win the award since Derrick Henry in 2015. 

    What's next: vs. Kansas, November 16

5. Justin Fields, Ohio State Quarterback

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    Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

    Last Week's Heisman Odds: 8-1

    Current Heisman Odds: 10-1

    Stats (Idle)

    Now that the 6'3", 228-pound Georgia transfer has gotten acclimated to his new surroundings, he's coming into his own as one of college football's most electrifying playmakers.

    With games against Penn State and Michigan remaining on the schedule, he has two incredible opportunities to show he's not only the leader of one of the best teams in the country, but also a Heisman Trophy contender.

    Perhaps the most impressive thing about Fields is how few mistakes he makes. He's only thrown for 1,659 yards this year, but he has 24 touchdown passes and just one interception.

    When you factor in his 319 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on the ground, it's easy to see why he's ranked so high.

    The only thing keeping Fields from being talked about more is having to share the spotlight with running back J.K. Dobbins (who is having a fringe-Heisman-contender season) and defensive end Chase Young, who is generating the out-of-the-box buzz.

    But there are few quarterbacks in the nation who can burn teams with their arm and feet the way Fields can, and he's the ideal signal-caller for Ryan Day's system. If he puts the Buckeyes on his shoulders against the Nittany Lions and Wolverines and leads them to an unblemished record, he could win this.

    It's time he got the headlines Tua Tagovailoa, Jalen Hurts and Joe Burrow have.

    What's next: vs. Maryland, Saturday

4. Chase Young, Ohio State Defensive End

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Last Week's Heisman Odds: N/A

    Current Heisman Odds: 12-1

    Stats (Idle) 

    Not since Michigan's Jabrill Peppers in 2016 has a defensive player received as much Heisman Trophy buzz as Chase Young this late in the season.

    It's warranted, too.

    The only defender to take home college football's top individual honor is the Wolverines' Charles Woodson in 1997, and he was bolstered by some offensive snaps and special teams prowess. The thing is, a legitimate argument can be made Young is the best overall player in college football this year.

    He's having as much impact on games as anybody.

    So far, teams have attempted to scheme around him and failed every time. He has 13.5 sacks, which is the most for a Buckeye in a single season since Joey Bosa in 2014, and Young still has a quarter of the season to play. He has 29 tackles, five forced fumbles and is a headache for everybody.

    College GameDay's David Pollack (himself a former defensive end) had strong remarks this past week about Young. "Right now, he should clearly be the front-runner if you're watching football and you have a vote," Pollack said, according to 247Sports' Brad Crawford. "If you're talking about the best and most dominant player in college football, it should be Chase Young."

    There's no margin for error for a defender, so Young has to keep bringing it and lighting up the scoreboard. But he has a legitimate chance to take home the award. The Terrapins are the next victim. 

    What's next: vs. Maryland, Saturday

3. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama Quarterback

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    Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

    Last Week's Heisman Odds: 4-1

    Current Heisman Odds: 3-1

    Stats (Idle)

    You never want to put too much emphasis on one game, right? Who are you kidding? This weekend's tilt between the second-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide and the top-ranked LSU Tigers in Tuscaloosa has as many subplots as any game in decades.

    The winner will gain supremacy in the SEC West and seize College Football Playoff top billing. It's a battle between two of the nation's top players, too, in Tua Tagovailoa and Joe Burrow. Everybody knows that.

    Even though Burrow and Tagovailoa will never be on the field at the same time, their performances will be compared. The Bama junior has been here before many times, but an injury suffered against Tennessee that sidelined him for the Arkansas game will be watched closely.

    Tagovailoa is expected to play, and he'll try to pad some amazing stats, as he's already thrown for 2,166 yards, 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions.

    Regardless of missing a game, if he piles up great numbers and carries Alabama to a win over its heated rival, Tagovailoa will surpass Burrow and even Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts and move to the top of the Heisman list.

    This easily could have been his award last year, but then-OU signal-caller Kyler Murray swooped in and stole it in the 11th hour. Bigger things are at stake for the Crimson Tide, but their success is tied directly to Tagovailoa in this game.

    If they both prevail, he'll catapult into the lead.

    What's next: vs. LSU, Saturday

2. Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma Quarterback

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Last Week's Heisman Odds: 3-2

    Current Heisman Odds: 2-1

    Stats (Idle)

    There's no question the Oklahoma Sooners spent a bye week last weekend licking their wounds after a disappointing loss to Kansas State in which they showed the same ol' defensive warts that have kept them from winning a national title the past two years.

    None of that is Hurts' fault, though.

    The Alabama transfer was terrific in bringing his Sooners nearly all the way back in the game against the Wildcats. He threw for 395 yards and a touchdown and ran for 96 yards and three more scores. Of course, the thing that matters most is that fat "L" in the record books.

    Hurts knows that, but this has been a revitalization this year as he's become a revelation under coach Lincoln Riley. Hurts has thrown for 2,469 yards, 21 touchdowns and three interceptions and has run for 801 yards and 13 more scores.

    Those numbers cannot be denied.

    If you were going solely on statistics, Hurts would be the Heisman favorite, and with several big games left, he could surge ahead of Tagovailoa and Burrow.

    Of course, few will be paying attention to him this week with the big matchup in Tuscaloosa, but a game against the Iowa State Cyclones is another big test for Hurts and the Sooners.

    All he can do is keep posting numbers, putting points on the scoreboard and hoping the OU defense does enough to keep the Sooners in the win category.

    What's next: vs. Iowa State, Saturday

1. Joe Burrow, LSU Quarterback

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    Last Week's Heisman Odds: 6-5

    Current Heisman Odds: 5-4

    Stats (Idle)

    Nobody could have expected what Burrow has done this year.

    But in his second year under the tutelage of offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger and first year with passing game coordinator Joe Brady, the former Ohio State transfer has taken college football by storm. He's the major reason the Bayou Bengals are ranked No. 1.

    Burrow has thrown for 2,805 yards, 30 touchdowns and four interceptions.

    Yes, he had some major moments a season ago (the epic showdown with Texas A&M coming to mind), but this season he's played his way onto the NFL radar and to the cusp of a Heisman Trophy.

    Of course, the Heisman and that top ranking and everything else are on the line this weekend against the Crimson Tide.

    Unlike most seasons, this Alabama-LSU game won't be decided by defenses. Neither team's unit has been particularly strong this year, and this has all the trappings of a shootout. It's even more exciting for us viewers that both teams had a week to rest and prepare.

    With so much on the line this weekend, Burrow has to guard against being tight. It's going to be a road game in a raucous environment, and it's easy to get caught up in a showdown with Tagovailoa with the sidebar that Ed Orgeron has never toppled the Tide as a head coach.

    He has to just play his game, trust his receivers and do what's made the Tigers successful all season. It's a game that will have the attention of everybody in college football, and if Burrow performs well and leads LSU to a win, it'll likely be smooth sailing to the Heisman.

    What's next: at Alabama, Saturday


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