Another year, another November victory lap toward the Heisman Trophy?
The stage is set for Baker Mayfield to follow in the footsteps of Lamar Jackson and head to New York with the result a mere formality as the Oklahoma quarterback moved into the lead in Week 10 and saw it cemented in Week 11.
Contenders Josh Adams (Notre Dame) and Saquon Barkley (Penn State) have seen their College Football Playoff-fueled campaigns fade, leaving the number of players tugging on Mayfield’s coattails that much smaller when it comes to legitimate threats.
Barkley may still wind up with a seat at the ceremony, as could, and probably should, the defending winner, Jackson, who leads FBS in total offense at 417.9. But Stanford’s Bryce Love, the nations’ rushing leader with 1,622 yards, currently stands as Mayfield’s biggest competition, and even that charge has lost some steam.
Love did have the nugget of a regular season-ending clash with a Notre Dame team in the midst of a playoff chase, but now that the Fighting Irish have been knocked out of that talk by Miami, that matchup in South Bend is no longer what it once was. Granted, Love can still make the most of his first game west of the Mississippi and gain the attention of some voters who may haven’t seen him enough this year.
The thought of taking the lead from Mayfield, the nation’s leader in passing efficiency (202.1), and sitting second in passing yards (3,559) and total offense (379) AND having his team in position to make the playoff is going to be hard to swallow.
In 2014, the first year of the playoff, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota won by 1,284 points over Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon and Alabama’s Amari Cooper, the only vote to date in the CFP era that didn’t include another QB or RB from a playoff school. Mayfield could be in a similar spot, unless Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor gets a level of support that his case has been lacking.
Before we look at the players who are set to rise and fall in the race this week, here’s a look at the Forecaster’s virtual ballot with, you guessed it, Mayfield at the top.
1. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma QB
2. Bryce Love, Stanford RB
3. Saquon Barkley, Penn State RB
Mark D. Smith Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports