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  • With Penn State's superstar running back on a bye week, who managed to capitalize on available momentum in our weekly Heisman watch?
By Bruce Feldman
October 15, 2017

The Heisman race bunched up some more this week. Our leader was on a bye week while Stanford’s star delivered more huge runs. Oklahoma State’s James Washington is just on the outside of this top tier after an especially big weekend against Baylor. The QB contingent is still lagging, but keep an eye on Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett. I know most folks wrote him off after the loss to Oklahoma, but he has settled into a rhythm with his new offensive coaches, and his 21-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio is a head-turner. The Buckeyes’ big showdown with Penn State in two weeks could vault him back into this group.

1. Saquon Barkley, Penn State, RB: The nation’s best combination of speed and power leads the country in all-purpose yards at 217 per game. Barkley is the most complete back in the country, rushing, receiving, returning kicks and also stepping up as a force in pass protection. He and the Nittany Lions were off this week as they prepare for the nasty part of their schedule with upcoming games against Michigan, at Ohio State and at Michigan State.

2. Bryce Love, Stanford, RB: He wasted little time gashing the Oregon D for big runs, as he has against everyone else he’s faced this season. In a little over a half of work, Love ran for 147 yards on 17 carries with two touchdowns in a 49–7 rout. Those numbers, big as they are, actually hurt Love’s season averages, but his Heisman stock continues to go up. I was tempted to bump him ahead of Barkley but held off. His 10.3 yard per carry at midseason is just one of many reasons why Heisman voters, even if they aren’t staying up late to watch him, should be showing Love some love.

3. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma, QB: Mayfield finally threw a pick and also didn’t complete over 75% of his passes, which was his average, but the Austin native notched a big win over Texas in the Red River Showdown with another 300-yard passing game in a 29–24 rally. On the season, he has thrown 17 TDs and now just the one INT. He also leads the country in QB rating at 207.3.

4. Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama, DB: For the fifth time in seven games, the Tide defense held an opponent to single-digits, whipping Arkansas 41–9. Fitzpatrick is the leader of that defense, and Alabama coaches say he’s the total package. Fitzpatrick does everything for Nick Saban’s defense: He has 4.5 tackles for loss, a blocked kick, an interception, a forced fumble, four pass breakups and 32 tackles.

5. Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin, RB: The undefeated Badgers rode their freshman stud against Purdue, as Taylor carried a career-high 30 times for 219 yards, going over the 200-yard rushing mark for the third time in his six career games. In three Big Ten games, he’s averaging 183 rushing yards—quite a start to his college career.

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