Watson, the sophomore leader of the top-ranked Tigers, took home SI.com’s annual fan vote with 28,316 total points, including 6,402 first-place votes. He finished ahead of Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey (24,493 total points) and Alabama running back Derrick Henry (20,894), the two other Heisman finalists.
SI.com uses the same voting process as the Heisman Trust, awarding three points per first-place vote, two points per second-place vote and one point per third-place vote. This season the Heisman Trust issued 929 ballots (870 media votes, 58 former winners and one fan vote), so the total points are obviously a bit skewed. But here are a few thoughts from the People’s Heisman results:
• If Henry is the true Heisman favorite, SI.com readers don’t agree. Watson not only beat Henry handily in first-place votes, earning 6,402 to the running back’s 2,674, but Henry finished with the most third-place votes (4,368) of any finalist. Indeed, Alabama’s star earned only 28.3 percent of total points, behind both Watson (38.4) and McCaffrey (33.2).
• A victory by Watson on Saturday would make him the 14th quarterback in 15 seasons to win the Heisman; Alabama running back Mark Ingram (2009) remains the only non-passer to win the award since 2000. Moreover, if Watson wins, six of the last eight winning quarterbacks will have been dual-threat players who rushed for at least 644 yards during their winning seasons.
• McCaffrey finished as the consensus pick for second place, garnering 4,446 second-place votes, the most of the three finalists.
• SI.com’s People’s Heisman poll has historically served as an accurate barometer of the true Heisman race. The fan vote accurately predicted the eventual victories of Robert Griffin III (2011), Johnny Manziel (2012) and Jameis Winston (2013). But last season, the fans voted Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper (12,423 total points) the People’s Heisman over Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota (12,244). Mariota went on to win the real trophy with 90.92 percent of possible points, second all-time behind Ohio State's Troy Smith. Cooper, meanwhile, finished third.
Deshaun Watson: 6,402 first-place votes, 2,753 second-place votes, 3,604 third-place votes: 28,316 points
Christian McCaffrey: 4,139 first-place votes, 4,446 second-place votes, 3,184 third-place votes: 24,493 points
Derrick Henry: 2,674 first place votes, 4,252 second-place votes, 4,368 third-place votes: 20,894 points