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  • Baker Mayfield kept rolling against TCU, and the Sooners' QB paces a field of Heisman hopefuls headlined by Bryce Love, Saquon Barkley, and others.
By Bruce Feldman
November 12, 2017

It’s the Baker Mayfield Show as a QB has taken command of the Heisman race in what looked to be a stacked year for running backs. The Sooners travel to face Kansas next Saturday before finishing the regular season at West Virginia, then barring an upset will have one last Big 12 title game showcase the weekend before the trophy ceremony.

One wild-card guy is on the horizon: Auburn’s Kerryon Johnson. Like Arizona’s Khalil Tate, he wasn’t much of a factor in September. He missed two games and was unimpressive in a third against Missouri, but he’s been terrific ever since, especially this past weekend in the Tigers’ thumping of Georgia and its vaunted defense. If he has a similar showing in the Iron Bowl and then again in the SEC title game, he’s going to leapfrog a lot of guys on my top five.

1. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma, QB: The gap between the Sooners' star and the rest of the field keeps widening. He carved up the Big 12’s best defense Saturday in a 38–20 win over TCU. Coming into this weekend, opposing quarterbacks had completed just 49% of passes against the Horned Frogs’ defense; Mayfield hit on 67%, threw for 333 yards and directed an offense that put up 533 on the Horned Frogs. Mayfield now has a 31–5 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

2. Bryce Love, Stanford, RB: Despite a gimpy ankle, Love ran through Washington’s top-rated defense for 166 yards and three touchdowns. Love’s seasonlong yards per carry average isn’t in double digits anymore, but it’s still an eye-popping 9.0 yards per rush.

3. Saquon Barkley, Penn State, RB: As impressive he is as an all-around running back, Barkley is just not putting up the kinds of rushing numbers a back needs to win the Heisman. In a 35–6 romp over Rutgers, Barkley gained only 35 yards on the ground, failing to top 2.5 yards per carry for the second time in the last three games.

4. Khalil Tate, Arizona, QB: We’ve moved on from October, but Tate is still piling up eye-popping numbers. His yards per carry is well over 11 yards a clip. He’s averaging over 200 yards rushing over the Wildcats' past six games. Even more impressive: If you take out sack yardage, which unlike in the NFL counts against college quarterbacks’ rushing totals, Tate is averaging over 13 yards a carry in Pac-12 play. He has broken off five runs of 70 yards or longer in eight games this year. No player in FBS has had more than four in a season since 2010. 

5. Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin, RB: The good: The Badgers’ rugged freshman ran for 157 yards against a good Iowa defense. The bad: He had two fumbles and lost one. Taylor has gone over 1500 yards in his first college season and is the best player on an undefeated Big Ten team.

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