I’m having a really hard time believing we are already headed into Week 9 of the college football season. I mean, where did the time go. I blinked while writing the first version of this series and here we are, debating who are the players with the best chance of heading to New York with just a handful of games left to play.
With Bryce Love on a bye, all eyes were on the other running back who has a knack for turning heads at whiplash-esque speed. Those who tuned in got to watch a masterful performance by Barkley and Penn State as they demolished the Wolverines of Michigan.
Mayfield had himself a day, albeit against a lesser team (on paper), and Lamar Jackson had a necessary performance against FSU if he wanted to avoid a fourth loss on the season.
We also welcome a newcomer to the fold as Notre Dame running back Josh Adams has broken onto the scene as a real contender for the Heisman Trophy after his breakout performance against USC.
Unfortunately, Mason Rudolph has found himself off the radar after pitching a scoreless game against Texas as the Cowboys walked away with scoring a season-low 13 total points.
Let’s take a look at how things have shaken out thus far:
1 – Saquon Barkley, Penn State, RB
Many believed Barkley’s Heisman moment was when he faced the Iowa Hawkeyes earlier this season. After his game against the Michigan Wolverines, whose defense has been much more stout than the Hawks, pundits are surely considering his recent performance with more weight towards his Heisman campaign. It was vintage Barkley all night as he punished the Wolverines on the ground and through the air.
On just 18 touches, Barkley amassed 161 total yards to go along with two rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown.
After a performance like this, I would be crazy not to anoint Barkley as the top-dog once again on this list.
2 – Bryce Love, Stanford, RB
Bryce Love and the Cardinal got to enjoy a bye week prior to their matchup against Oregon State in Corvallis. I usually allow hopefuls to retain their positions during off-weeks, but Saquon Barkley was just too dominant against a a very good Michigan defense. Love can still bounce back with a fairly “normal” performance by his standards this week.
3 – Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma, QB
Mayfield found himself in yet another classic Big 12 shootout against the Wildcats of Kansas State on Saturday. He got back to his incredibly efficient ways as he completed 31-of-41 passes for a season-high 410 yards and two touchdowns against one interception. He had a healthy day running the ball as well as he carried the rock nine times for 69 yards and another two touchdowns.
By far Mayfield’s most productive day on the season, he will need to replicate this performance another time or two if he wants to crack the top-2 on this list.
4 – Josh Adams, Notre Dame, RB
A NEW HOPEFUL EMERGES!
Josh Adams has been underrated for most of the season but that stops right here. With an offensive line that includes two potential first-round picks, it’s no surprise Adams has found plenty of room to run around on opposing defenses.
In his most recent game, a primetime matchup with historic rival USC, Adams carried the ball 19 times for a whopping 191 yards and three touchdowns. Any game where a player averages over 10 yards per carry is worthy of praise, but the fact he did it in a game like this makes it even more impressive.
In 2017, Adams has 105 carries for 967 yards for a more-than-healthy 9.2 ypc with eight touchdowns. He does not get workhorse carries in this offense, but he has been incredibly efficient and productive otherwise.
Welcome to the club, Newbie.
5 – Lamar Jackson, Louisville, QB
Jackson may have played a mistake-free game and came away with the victory, but it was one of his worst games as a passer this season. He completed 13-21 passes for just 156 yards and a single touchdown against the Seminoles of Florida State. Due to the lack of success through the air, Jackson took to the ground 23 times for 178 yards and another rushing touchdown.
As a quarterback alone, this was a rough game to say the least. As a general football player, this performance is still worthy of praise and helps keep Jackson from falling out of the top-5.
Here’s to hoping the reigning Heisman winner finds his groove again during the second half of the season.