If this past week in a disjointed college football taught us anything, it's that the Heisman Trophy race is going to be weird, which fits right into 2020:
- Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the early-season frontrunner, had his worst game so far.
- Alabama's Mac Jones lost his best receiver in Jaylen Waddle, who was also a Heisman candidate, to a season-ending injury.
- Ohio State's Justin Fields entered the fray with a near-perfect performance in his first game of 2020.
- Wisconsin's Graham Mertz matched Fields throw for throw Friday night, and then he tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, keeping him sidelined for three weeks.
That's just last week. How crazy are the next two months going to be? Instead of prognosticating who will take home the bronze trophy in December, let's evaluate the Heisman landscape by breaking down the field with AllClemson's tiers:
Cream of the crop
Lawrence, the odds-on favorite, took a step back last week with his second interceptions of the season, which resulted in a defensive touchdown return. Despite his lowest completion percentage (62.8) and QB rating (129.9) of the year, he's still completing 70 percent of his passes and has 17 touchdowns throws to two picks. He leads the ACC in yards per game and is the undisputed leader of the No. 1 team in college football. He's still the candidate to bet on.
The heel nippers
Alabama is No. 2, and so is Jones, who ranks third nationally with 381 yards per game, for a reason. He's thrown 12 touchdowns and one interception in five games and has made Tide fans forget Tua Tagoviloa went in the first round of the NFL draft. Jones certainly gained on Lawrence after last Saturday. Meanwhile, Fields was as electric as any QB last week with 20 completions in 21 attempts against Nebraska. The Buckeye signal-caller also threw two touchdowns to an explosive group of receivers and ran in another score. He only gets eight more chances to impress Heisman voters, but it's crazy to count him out of it because of the hype surrounding one of the 2019 finalists.
Don't count these guys out
This a QB award, first and foremost. Twelve of the last 14 winners played that position and this doesn't seem like the year that trend will change. Mertz's COVID-19 status is huge as Wisconsin will be among the top teams in the Big Ten this year, giving him a showcase to continue his strong pedigree. However, incumbent Jack Coan might beat him back on the field and Mertz's candidacy might never materialize.
UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel is one of the hottest signal-callers in the nation. He's leading the country with 2,178 passing yards and 19 touchdown throws. BYU's Zach Wilson gets 10 games to follow in the footsteps of Cougars legend Ty Detmer, and Wilson already has 16 TD passes and nearly 2,000 passing yards.
The rest of the field
This isn't really the field of all the players not mentioned above, It's really just a couple more quarterbacks and a few non-passers just hoping for a chance to get into the mix. Michigan's Joe Milton moved up on the Heisman odds list with a great debut against Minnesota. Florida's Kyle Trask isn't out of the hunt with a loss but it's looking like a longshot considering the other worthy contenders.
Then there are running backs Najee Harris from Alabama and Clemson's Travis Etienne, who are higher on the odds list than everybody not named Lawrence, Jones and Fields. However, they're going to have to do something amazing to rip out of a passer's hands. Harris is surging and getting better each week while Etienne, who will go down as one of the best rushers in ACC and in recent NCAA history, has had two consecutive games where he wasn't at his best.
Who else should be considered? Let us know in the comments section below.