- On a day when many of the Heisman favorites struggled or suffered season-altering losses, Baker Mayfield willed Oklahoma to a huge win and put himself in prime position for the Heisman.
It was another crazy Saturday in college football and we have some real movement in our Heisman race, with a new leader thanks to a ton of fireworks in the Bedlam shootout that saw the two Oklahoma schools pile up 112 points in four quarters, while Penn State had more than its hands full against Michigan State, dropping a second consecutive game in miserable conditions in East Lansing. Here are your new top five candidates for college football’s highest individual honor.
1. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma, QB: The senior went to Stillwater and set a Sooners record with 598 passing yards, throwing five TD passes in a 62–52 win over Oklahoma State. Oklahoma had 466 first-half yards, and Mayfield’s arm accounted for a jaw-dropping 387 of them. In two wins against top-15 opponents on the road this season, Mayfield has thrown for 984 yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions, with a spectacular 13.9 yards per attempt. His touchdown-to-interception ratio is now 28–5. He’s also run for five more touchdowns.
2. Saquon Barkley, Penn State, RB: Barkley’s Nittany Lions lost on the road for the second consecutive week, this time enduring a marathon afternoon in rainy, chilly East Lansing in a game that saw a three-plus hour lightning delay. Michigan State bottled up Barkley on the ground, limiting him to 63 yards on 14 carries to go with his three catches for 33 yards and one 20-yard completion on a pop pass. He also managed just 15 yards on two kick returns. Barkley did excel in his role as a blocker, but he was unable to produce the “Wow” plays we’ve become accustomed to from him. Barkley still has a decent shot to win the Heisman, but he’ll need to get his numbers cranked up again against lesser competition down the stretch—and he’ll probably need Mayfield to stumble. Barkley has gone over 100 yards rushing just once since late September.
3. Khalil Tate, Arizona, QB: He proved to be a lot more than just Mr. October. The sophomore QB was quiet for a half as USC contained the L.A. kid on his return to Southern California. Then he went wild and sparked the Wildcats, who rallied from 22 points down before falling 49–35. Despite being sacked five times, Tate still topped the 160-yard rushing mark to go with two TD passes.
4. Bryce Love, Stanford, RB: Barkley wasn’t the only top back whose campaign was derailed this week. Love was held to 69 rushing yards on 16 carries in Stanford’s 24–21 loss to Washington State, with most of that production coming on one 52-yard carry. He also didn’t catch a pass. It was the first time Love’s been held under 147 yards in a game he’s played in this season. His yards per carry total has now dipped to 9.6.
5. Josh Adams, Notre Dame, RB: The good news? Unlike Barkley and Love, Adams’s team won, beating Wake Forest 48–37. The bad news? Adams was very limited, rushing just five times for 22 yards on a day where ND rolled up 710 total yards—its biggest output of the season. Coach Brian Kelly said Adams “wasn’t feeling right” Saturday. He’s still just under 1,200 yards rushing on a team that gets a marquee matchup next week at Miami.