Ranking Heisman Contenders' Performances After Week 12 of College Football

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistNovember 19, 2019

Ranking Heisman Contenders' Performances After Week 12 of College Football

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    Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

    Joe Burrow will be the 2019 Heisman Trophy winner, and the rest of the college football season is merely a formality.

    LSU's senior quarterback is such a favorite that Caesars no longer lists Heisman odds; rather, it's a simple question: Will Burrow win the award, yes or no?

    We say yes.

    Ohio State signal-caller Justin Fields and Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts are battling for runner-up honors. Unfortunately, though, Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa is no longer on the fringe of the conversation because of his season-ending injury.

    The following rankings are a reflection of how Heisman contenders performed in Week 12—and in Week 12 only. The order is simply a snapshot of one game, not necessarily an indication of the order in which we expect they'll finish.

    Factors used to shape the list include individual production, key plays, team success and competition level. 

The Long Shots

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    J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State

    By both total yardage and yards per carry, Week 12 doubled as J.K. Dobbins' second-worst game of 2019. He finished the rout of Rutgers with 89 yards and two touchdowns. That's pretty good for a near-season-worst performance, isn't it?


    Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson

    Ho-hum, another 100-yard day for Travis Etienne. The junior eclipsed the barrier for the sixth straight game, and he's registered at least 6.8 yards per carry in all six. Etienne is only 207 yards behind Raymond Priester for the school's career rushing record (3,966).


    Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State

    Without a doubt, he's a first-team All-American player. After a 122-yard day against Kansas, Chuba Hubbard remained the FBS rushing leader at 1,726. He's a candidate for individual awards at his position, but not the Heisman.


    Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

    Week 12 was arguably Justin Herbert's best showing of the season. He finished 20-of-28 with 333 yards and four touchdowns to one interception during a 34-6 Oregon win over Arizona. Herbert is trending the right direction as scouts nearly close the book on his report.


    Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

    Clemson outgained Wake Forest 516-105. Let that marinate for a second. All right. Trevor Lawrence shredded the Demon Deacons, completing 21 of his 27 passes for 272 yards and four touchdowns. He might end up finishing in the top five of Heisman voting.


    Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin

    This final line is remarkable. Jonathan Taylor ran for 204 yardseh, whatever, we're desensitized to something he's now accomplished 11 times. But he averaged 8.2 yards per carry despite his longest run covering only 19! Along the way, Taylor set a new personal best for a season with 17 rushing touchdowns.


    Chase Young, DE, Ohio State

    In case you missed it last week, Chase Young isn't really a contender any longer. His two-game suspension severely reduced the possibility of a November surge. Maybe if he records five or six sacks down the stretch, we'll revisit his status as a potential finalist.

Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

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    Stats (W 38-7 at Mississippi State): 14-of-18, 256 YDS, 2 TD, 0 INT

    This stinks.

    Forget the Heisman Trophy. Forget the fading hopes of a national championship. Tua Tagovailoa has a dislocated hip and fractured posterior wall, per Aaron Suttles of The Athletic.

    Tagovailoa's college career is over. He's going to leave Alabama with a handful of school and national records, and Crimson Tide fans will remember him for winning the 2017 national title in heroic fashion. But he doesn't have an opportunity to finish on the field.

    And you know what? He's still happy anyway.

    What's next: NFL draft

3. Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma

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    Ray Carlin/Associated Press

    Stats (W 34-31 at Baylor): 30-of-42, 297 YDS, 4 TD, 1 INT; 27 CAR, 114 YDS

    Deciding on the right slot for Jalen Hurts is tricky. His performance in Waco included a whole lot of good and a bunch of bad, too.

    The raw numbers are impressive, for sure. Of the Heisman contenders, only he and LSU's Joe Burrow topped 400 yards of total offense. Hurts tossed a trio of touchdowns and put the Sooners in position for a game-winning field goal to complete a 28-3 comeback on the road against an undefeated team.

    However, he also had three turnovers. A fumble and interception led to 14 first-half points, and a fumble at the goal line initially slowed the comeback. That could've been Oklahoma's undoing.

    True, it didn't end up mattering. But it can't be overlooked, either.

    What's next: vs. TCU

2. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    Stats (W 56-21 at Rutgers): 15-of-19, 305 YDS, 4 TD; 3 CAR, 30 YDS

    Playing against Rutgers is good for the soul. And the box score.

    Justin Fields threw for a career-high 305 yards in the 56-21 blowout, adding 30 rushing yards and helping the Buckeyes improve to 10-0. He only played one possession in the second half, too.

    At least publicly, though, Fields didn't bask in his performance.

    "Game, by game, whatever the stats are, that's what it is," Fields told reporters. "I'm just glad we got the W."

    And now, what would be the most important W's of the campaign are coming up next. Ohio State hosts Penn State before traveling to rival Michigan for the regular-season finale.

    What's next: vs. Penn State

1. Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

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    Thomas Graning/Associated Press

    Stats (W 58-37 at Ole Miss): 32-of-42, 489 YDS, 5 TD, 2 INT; 9 CAR, 26 YDS

    Signed, sealed, just waiting to deliver?

    Burrow threw multiple interceptions for the first time all season, but that's easily forgivable when he otherwise racked up 489 yards and five touchdowns. Throw in his 26 rushing yards, and the Heisman front-runner crested the 500-yard mark in total offense.

    "I thought he was on fire, especially in the first half," head coach Ed Orgeron told reporters. "He made a lot of plays and extended some plays with his feet. He's a great athlete."

    Burrow also broke LSU's single-season passing record during the win. And if the Tigers improve to 11-0 next weekend, they'll officially seal a place in the SEC Championship Game.

    What's next: vs. Arkansas