Ranking the Heisman Favorites Heading into Week 13
Ordinarily, Thanksgiving weekend is the second-to-last opportunity for Heisman Trophy contenders to state their case. In 2020, there's still about a month to play.
So we're being careful not to overreact.
Justin Fields had a three-interception game last time out, while Trevor Lawrence didn't play because of Clemson's postponed matchup at Florida State. Zach Wilson, Kyle Trask and Mac Jones smacked around outmatched opponents. No expected blowout win should lead to a dramatic change in the order.
But the Week 13 schedule brings one marquee game that could reshuffle the top of the Heisman hierarchy.
Factors include total production, Heisman trends and player reputations. The order is a snapshot of this specific week of the 2020 season, not a personal ballot or voting projection.
5. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Last week: 5
First, the good news! Fields threw for 300 yards, ran for 78 and accounted for three touchdowns in a key victory. Ohio State toppled then-No. 9 Indiana in a matchup that effectively sealed the Buckeyes' place in the Big Ten Championship Game.
However, he tossed three interceptions and struggled in the second half as Ohio State nearly coughed up a 28-point lead.
Does he really deserve to rise following that performance?
Back to good news! Fields' statistical output is strong, considering he's totaled 1,343 yards and 16 scores in four games. And the next three opponents—Illinois, Michigan State and Michigan—are a combined 5-9. Fields has several chances to pad his numbers.
Right now, though, his Heisman case is more heavily built on reputation than those of his competitors.
4. Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
Last week: 4
For the fleeting moment it appeared BYU would schedule Washington, Wilson had a legitimate chance for a much-needed national boost in the Heisman race.
Understandable. Still a disappointment.
Wilson put together yet another tremendous game last week for the No. 14 Cougars, picking apart North Alabama for 212 yards and four touchdowns on just 16 attempts. He's gathered 2,915 total yards and accounted for 34 scores, throwing a mere two interceptions.
But it's implausible that a dominant game against North Alabama is what Wilson needed to sway voters. He would need Washington for that. At least in Week 13, that's not happening as an open date looms.
3. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
Last week: 3
Lawrence's long-awaited return hit an unexpected delay. The trip to Florida State ended without a game because of a late positive coronavirus test on Clemson's roster, and medical personnel could not reach an agreement to play.
Quite honestly, I'm not interested in the discussion of whether it was the right decision. It's far outside my expertise.
What I know, however, is Lawrence—relative to his Heisman candidacy—missed a valuable opportunity to regain his footing. He missed two games because of a positive test in late October, so he'll have gone over a month between appearances.
Lawrence has a near-identical statistical pace to that of Fields, with two additional games to consider. But the lifespan of defending Lawrence's totals of 1,904 offensive yards and 21 touchdowns while pointing to health and safety protocols—which are far more important than a Heisman!—has reached its end.
Lawrence needs to play again. Hopefully, Clemson hosts Pitt this weekend as scheduled.
2. Kyle Trask, QB, Florida
Last week: 2
This is the biggest spot of contention, no doubt. And if you prefer to have Trask atop the list, that's sensible. His combination of production and competition level is unmatched.
Through seven games, Trask has 2,554 passing yards, 31 touchdowns and only three interceptions. He threw for 383 yards and three scores in the 38-17 win over Vanderbilt last week.
But none of the other candidates have a loss—provided you don't assign Clemson's letdown at Notre Dame to Lawrence, given he had tested positive for the coronavirus and didn't play.
How the voters weigh Florida's loss at Texas A&M is a defining question. Unless the other contenders lose too.
Trask absolutely has the resume of a Heisman winner. It will help if Jones drops a game—and Florida will likely have an opportunity to face Alabama in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 19.
1. Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
Last week: 1
Jones has a tenuous hold on No. 1. Still, dropping the Alabama quarterback before a showdown with rival Auburn feels like manufacturing drama.
The junior is averaging 12.1 yards per attempt with a 77.1 completion rate, totaling 2,426 yards and 18 touchdowns as a passer. Jones has thrived in the biggest games (Texas A&M, Georgia) and helped the Tide cruise to a 7-0 record.
But these next two contests—home against Auburn and on the road against Arkansas—are awfully important.
Auburn is 5-2 and ranked 22nd, so it's another big-game bullet point for Jones' resume. And since Trask scorched Arkansas for six touchdowns, Jones would benefit from a strong showing in a game opposite a comparable opponent.
Anything less than two overwhelmingly positive performances by Jones will likely drop him behind Trask.