The best player in college football doesn’t always win the Heisman, or even gain the recognition he deserves.
While Joe Burrow, Jalen Hurts, Justin Fields and even Tua Tagovailoa have been nothing shy of incredible this season, a rare defensive player must be included.
Here’s what to watch for in the last week of the regular season:
Joe Burrow –– Quarterback, LSU
Burrow’s 327 passing yards and three touchdowns shouldn’t have come as a surprise over lowly Arkansas in a game which featured the largest point spread between two SEC teams in the history of the conference. Somewhat incredibly, LSU didn’t cover the 42-point spread after taking a 56-6 fourth-quarter lead. But LSU fans should have few concerns about their team after Burrow became the first quarterback in school history to throw for 4,000 yards.
With Tagovailoa out for the season with an injury and other candidates unable to match Burrow’s pace, his stage is set. Barring a bizarre meltdown against Texas A&M or against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, Burrow will become LSU’s first Heisman winner in 60 years.
Jalen Hurts –– Quarterback, Oklahoma
Jalen Hurts is probably the most overlooked candidate on our list.
While other candidates receive national attention and praise, Hurts has received the short end of the stick after three consecutive weeks of nail-biting one-possession Sooner wins. Yes, Hurts’ fleeting hopes took a significant blow with only 145 yards and an interception against TCU, but last week was his only truly “weak” game of the season.
Outside of last week’s anomaly, Hurts has otherwise had a Heisman-worthy season — 3,184 yards passing, 30 touchdowns, six interceptions and a quarterback rating of 92.1. Had it not been for an incredible season from Burrow, Hurts might be sitting at the top of our list.
Now, with only two games remaining for Oklahoma, Jalen Hurts needs a miracle to improve his Heisman aspirations.
Justin Fields –– Quarterback, Ohio State
It’s “The Game” week in Columbus, the magical time of year when Ohio State removes every letter M from campus in preparation for Saturday’s matchup against rival Michigan.
This year’s stakes are as high as ever, as the No. 2 Buckeyes prepare for their second consecutive Top-15 matchup after a sound victory over Penn State last weekend. Justin Fields, Ohio State’s sophomore quarterback, takes command of a powerful offense looking to bounce back after scoring a season-low 28 points against the Nittany Lions.
With the Big Ten East already clinched for the Buckeyes, this week’s game is an opportunity for Fields to secure his team’s spot in the College Football Playoff and to lock up his spot in New York for the Heisman ceremony.
Chase Young –– Defensive end, Ohio State
The reality can be denied no longer — Chase Young is the best player in college football.
Although Young stayed off of our Heisman watch until the last week of the regular season, he walks the red carpet of our star-studded list in a big way. Against Penn State, Young broke the Buckeyes’ single-season sack record when he recorded his 16.5th sack on the year.
His 38 total tackles, 16.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles say it all. However, a path to the Heisman proves difficult for Young as the committee traditionally favors offensive players.
His constant disruption of passing pockets, shredding of runs to his side and overall defensive dominance have him poised to be the first defensive player invited to New York since Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o in 2012.