Each week, The Advocate’s Scott Rabalais, a Heisman Trophy voter since 1997, breaks down the top candidates for college football’s most prestigious award. This year’s Heisman will be presented at 7 p.m. Dec. 12 on ESPN.
1. LEONARD FOURNETTE
LSU sophomore running back
WHY HE’S HERE: The nation was abuzz about the leader of Buga Nation this week after his bulldozing, churning, slashing effort against Auburn. Fournette rushed for 228 yards and three touchdowns on just 19 carries, a stunning 12.0 yards per carry. And this in just three quarters work after he left with a knee bruise that had LSU fans anxious and Fournette temporarily writhing in pain. Fournette has 387 yards rushing and six touchdowns for the season, averaging 8.2 yards per carry and an FBS-leading 193.5 yards per game rushing. More importantly, Fournette had not one but two “Heisman moments,” plowing over Blake Countess on his 40-yard TD run and throwing Tray Matthews off his back. Some say award him the Heisman now, but Fournette has nine, maybe 10 weeks to go.
2. NICK CHUBB
Georgia sophomore running back
WHY HE’S HERE: Chubb came into the season as the SEC’s top Heisman contender. He’s been dethroned by Fournette for now, not because he hasn’t played well but because the LSU superstar has been so dynamic. Though Fournette is currently the man to beat, Chubb could chug along the way he’s going and be just fine in terms of his Heisman candidacy. Like Fournette, he took advantage of an outmanned defense Saturday with 159 yards and two TDs rushing against South Carolina, In three games he has 468 yards and four TDs rushing. One problem: can you name Chubb’s Heisman moment so far? Nor can I. But it’s still September.
3. TREVONE BOYKIN
TCU senior quarterback
WHY HE’S HERE: Fournette could certainly beat Chubb in a head-to-head Heisman battle. A quarterback like Boykin complicates matters. The Heisman has become basically a quarterback award — QBs have won 14 of the past 15 Heismans — so a player like Boykin has an edge if he can deliver the stats and the wins. Boykin padded the stats against SMU on Saturday with 504 total yards (454 yards passing, 5 TDs, one interception; 50 yards, TD rushing). For the season he’s throw for 985 yards, 10 TDs and 3 INTs.
ON THE RADAR (alphabetically)
Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State junior RB
Jared Goff, California junior QB
Chad Kelly, Ole Miss junior QB
Cody Kessler, USC senior QB
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma junior QB