A year ago, Trevone Boykin wouldn’t have been found on any Heisman lists. This season, TCU’s quarterback is nipping on the heels of the Heisman Watch’s top two contenders in the middle of November.
Boykin led his TCU squad to one of the weekend’s biggest wins against Kansas State. The Horned Frogs are legitimate playoff contenders, and their quarterback’s remarkable turnaround has been a catalyst to their success. While TCU chases that spot in the top four, the question for Boykin is whether he has what it takes to unseat Marcus Mariota and Dak Prescott in the season’s final weeks.
Heisman Watch Week 11
Trevone Boykin, QB TCU
Melvin Gordon, RB Wisconsin
Amari Cooper, WR Alabama
Boykin’s Heisman hopes didn’t die after TCU escaped by the skin of its teeth against West Virginia last week, but his performance didn’t exactly help his case. The quarterback threw for a season-low 166 yards and completed only 40 percent of his passes in a tight 31-30 win over the Mountaineers. But Boykin’s coach wasn’t worried about his leader heading into a meeting with No. 7 Kansas State.
"We didn't talk about it,” Patterson told reporters Saturday. “We just talked about beating Kansas State. We have to stay out of the middle of all of that stuff. For us, that stuff doesn't matter.”
Boykin proved Saturday that he’d moved on. He completed 23-of-34 passes for 219 yards and one touchdown and dominated on the ground in TCU’s 41-20 win over Kansas State. The junior tallied a career-high 123 rushing yards on 17 carries and tied a career-high with three rushing touchdowns against a defense that hadn’t allowed a quarterback to run for more than 50 yards all season. Boykin helped TCU reel off 334 total yards on the ground, the program’s most since 2011.
Boykin now has 2,691 passing yards on the year, the fourth-highest single-season mark in Horned Frogs history, and his remaining schedule isn’t daunting. TCU plays Iowa State, Texas and Kansas to round out the season. That’s a recipe for some stat-stuffing from the Frogs’ quarterback.
TCU should be a topic of conversation in this week’s meeting of the College Football Playoff selection committee. It now has wins over Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and West Virginia, and though it suffered a close loss at Baylor, TCU has a more impressive nonconference schedule than the Bears thanks to its win over Minnesota. That playoff talk is what Boykin needs for his Heisman candidacy to flourish. The quarterback is already one of the most improved players in the country from a year ago. Barring a major collapse, Boykin at least deserves a spot in New York as a finalist.
Everett Golson, QB Notre Dame
Nick Marshall, QB Auburn
Arkansas athletic director and playoff selection committee chairman Jeff Long told reporters last week that scheduling “intent” hasn’t been a factor in the committee’s rankings. A team’s schedule might look challenging in August, but that doesn’t matter if the slate turns out to be soft.
That’s a problem for Notre Dame. Wins over teams like Michigan and Stanford aren’t impressive anymore. That’s also a problem for Fighting Irish quarterback Everett Golson, whose Heisman candidacy needed a big boost against No. 9 Arizona State on Saturday. Instead, he likely fell out of contention.
The Sun Devils forced Golson into four interceptions and a fumble in their 55-31 victory in Tempe. Golson coughed up three of his five turnovers in a four-minute span in the first half, and those mistakes helped Arizona State to build a 34-3 lead in the waning moments of the second quarter. Even though the quarterback threw for 446 yards and helped the Irish rally late, Arizona State scored the game’s final three touchdowns to seal the win.
Golson's penchant for miscues often overshadows his Heisman-caliber talent. He’s lost six fumbles and thrown 11 interceptions already this season after avoiding turnovers entirely in Notre Dame's first three games. The Irish' schedule doesn’t help, as Heisman contenders need to perform on the biggest stages. Golson and Notre Dame have played only two teams in the playoff committee's top 25 and lost to them both. On Saturday, much of the blame fell on the Irish quarterback’s shoulders.
Golson needs help from other contenders to break back into the Heisman race. For now, his performances under the brightest spotlights haven’t been memorable for the right reasons.
Outside looking in
Abdullah was out of sight and out of mind this weekend as his Cornhuskers enjoyed a bye week. That allowed Big Ten foe Melvin Gordon to impress with his own stats. Abdullah missed most of Nebraska’s last game against Purdue with an MCL sprain, but he’s slated to be back this week against Wisconsin.
Ohio State’s quarterback was a relative unknown until Braxton Miller’s injury thrust him into the spotlight in Columbus. Barrett shined in his biggest game to date Saturday against Michigan State, notching five touchdowns in the win. However, that’s the passer’s only marquee victory of the year, and his stats don’t stand up to someone like Marcus Mariota, who plays a tougher schedule.
Heisman video of the week
TCU's Trevone Boykin shows off his wings with an acrobatic dive into the end zone against Kansas State.
Dak Prescott, QB Mississippi State
No. 1 Mississippi State at No. 4 Alabama
With games left against both Mississippi State and Auburn, Alabama might be in the driver’s seat for the SEC West’s playoff berth. Or the Bulldogs’ quarterback can add a major exclamation point to his Heisman campaign by toppling the vaunted Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa.
Melvin Gordon, RB Wisconsin/Ameer Abdullah, RB Nebraska
No. 11 Nebraska at No. 22 Wisconsin
This matchup might as well be called the Battle of the Running Backs. Abdullah and Gordon are the two primary Heisman candidates at that position, and this could become an elimination game for a spot among the trophy’s finalists in New York.
Nick Marshall, QB Auburn
No. 9 Auburn at No. 16 Georgia
Marshall played a role in two fumbles within Auburn’s final four plays in a loss to Texas A&M, mistakes that sank the Tigers' chance at avoiding the upset. A home loss to an unranked opponent is a big hit to Marshall’s Heisman shot, but he could jump back into the conversation with a stellar game in Athens.