Each week for the rest of the season, we will highlight the five players we think are the top Heisman Trophy contenders. The list could change weekly as new players emerge and the true candidates separate themselves from the pack.
Ohio State could legitimately send three of its players to New York City for the Heisman Trophy ceremony.
With ballots due next Monday, defensive end Chase Young and quarterback Justin Fields certainly have a compelling case to be included among the Heisman finalists. But running back J.K. Dobbins has been instrumental in the Buckeyes’ biggest wins of the season.
Over the last two weeks in wins over Penn State and Michigan, Dobbins has carried the ball 67 times for 368 yards and six touchdowns. He was the best player on the field on Saturday in Ann Arbor, going for 211 yards and four scores — both career highs.
Entering the Big Ten title game against Wisconsin, Dobbins is up to 1,657 yards and 19 touchdowns on 250 carries — a 6.63-yard average. His yardage ranks fourth in the country behind Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard, Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor and Boston College’s AJ Dillon, who have carried the ball 59, 29 and 68 more times, respectively.
But will Dobbins’ late charge be enough to get him to New York? One could argue he should have been in the mix all along. He has rushed for at least 120 yards in 10 of OSU’s 12 games, but has been overshadowed by Fields’ sparkling 37-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio and Young’s ridiculous 16.5 sacks in 10 games. Three players from the same school have not finished as Heisman finalists since 1973 when Ohio State’s John Hicks (2nd), Archie Griffin (4th) and Randy Gradishar (5th) finished in the top five.
And the field to get to New York goes beyond the Ohio State trio. LSU’s Joe Burrow is the obvious frontrunner for the award, but others like the aforementioned Taylor and Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts will be able to make one final impression on voters in conference title games this weekend.
1. Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Barring a complete meltdown against Georgia in the SEC championship game, Joe Burrow should win the Heisman Trophy by a considerable margin. Burrow had yet another excellent performance as the Tigers capped off a perfect 12-0 regular season with a 50-7 beatdown of Texas A&M.
Burrow completed 23-of-32 passes for 352 yards and three touchdowns, bringing his season totals to 4,366 yards and 44 touchdowns with a completion percentage of 78.3. His yardage and touchdowns trail only Washington State’s Anthony Gordon, a QB who has 244 more attempts than Burrow this season. Meanwhile, Burrow is still on pace to break Colt McCoy’s FBS record (76.7) for completion percentage in a season.
With a win over Georgia on Saturday, Burrow can help LSU wrap up its first SEC title since 2011.
(Last week: 1)
2. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Fields put together another excellent performance this week, this time in a difficult road environment in Ann Arbor. Playing on a sprained MCL, Fields threw for 302 yards and four touchdowns in Ohio State’s 56-27 win.
For the second straight game, Fields had a bit of an injury scare when one of his teammates was awkwardly blocked into the same knee he sprained a week ago against Penn State. Fields ended up missing a handful of plays getting the knee checked out and being placed in a brace. On his first play back in the game, he delivered a gorgeous 30-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Wilson. And he made it look easy.
One for the absolute ages! Fields, fresh off of a trip to the medical tent scrambles and completes a perfect pass to Garrett Wilson for the TD.— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) November 30, 2019
OSU is up 42-16! pic.twitter.com/nxW5UdExmQ
In his first year as a starting quarterback, Fields has thrown for 2,654 yards, 37 touchdowns and one interception while completing 68.2 percent of his throws. He also has 470 yards and 10 scores on the ground.
(Last week: 3)
3. Chase Young, DE, Ohio State
Michigan did a really good job making sure Chase Young wasn’t the same kind of game-wrecker in Ann Arbor he was against Wisconsin and Penn State. In fact, Young wasn’t credited with a single tackle on Saturday, but he did make his presence felt by commanding double teams and getting hits on quarterback Shea Patterson.
Young has two of the best defensive performances of the season: nine tackles, four tackles for loss, three sacks and two forced fumbles against Penn State, and six tackles, five tackles for loss, four sacks and two forced fumbles against Wisconsin.
Young, who has 19.5 tackles for loss, 16.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles on the year, will see Wisconsin again in this weekend’s Big Ten title game.
(Last week: 2)
4. Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma
From a statistical standpoint, Jalen Hurts’ performance in Saturday’s 34-16 win over Oklahoma State does not stand out. Hurts completed 13-of-16 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown, rushed for 61 yards and a score and also caught a four-yard touchdown on a trick play. But here’s what stood out most: Hurts did not turn the ball over a single time. Hurts’ turnover issues have almost cost his team on a few occasions this season.
Hurts, who is up to 3,347 yards and 31 TDs passing and 1,217 yards and 18 TDs rushing, now has the chance to lead OU to its fifth straight Big 12 championship with a win over Baylor on Saturday. A win in that game could also open the door for a College Football Playoff berth while cementing Hurts’ place among Heisman finalists.
(Last week: 4)
5. J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State
While Fields and the Ohio State passing attack get a lot of attention, the down-to-down consistency of Dobbins has really been the key to the Buckeyes’ offense in the last month. Dobbins set the tone early against the Wolverines, breaking off a 34-yard gain on his first touch and gaining 28 yards on a third-and-long catch later in OSU’s opening drive — plays that set up Dobbins’ first score of the game.
Dobbins’ success really opened up the play-action passing game for head coach Ryan Day. And when the Buckeyes had a comfortable lead, Dobbins kept the chains moving and ended up scoring four touchdowns on the day — three from inside the 10 and a 33-yarder in the fourth quarter to seal another rivalry victory for OSU.
(Last week: Unranked)
Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State: Though his team lost to Oklahoma, Hubbard kept his streak of 100-yard rushing games alive with a 104-yard effort on Saturday. He has now topped the 100-yard mark in 10 straight games and 11 of the 12 OSU has played this year. His 1,936 rushing yards leads the country. In OSU’s bowl game, he can become the second OSU player to top 2,000 yards in a season.
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin: Taylor enters the Big Ten title game with 1,761 rushing yards, second behind Hubbard nationally. Taylor had a season-low 52 yards on Wisconsin’s loss to Ohio State earlier in the year. If he has a big game against OSU this time around, he may be able to get the invite to NYC.
Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson: Lawrence has been playing like one of the best quarterbacks in the country over the last month or so. In his last five games, Lawrence is 95-of-125 (76 percent) for 1,336 yards, 16 touchdowns and no interceptions. Pretty good.
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