Heisman Watch 2020: Breaking Down Top Candidates in the Race After Week 10

Heisman Watch 2020: Breaking Down Top Candidates in the Race After Week 10

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    Jason Szenes/Associated Press

    College football was missing a trio of its biggest names in Week 10, but there wasn’t any shortage of dynamic performances from players vying for a trip to the Heisman Trophy ceremony in December.

    Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence (COVID-19) and Alabama’s Mac Jones and Najee Harris (bye) were out of action, though for Lawrence, his absence might have underscored his importance ever more, as Clemson fell 47-40 to No. 4 Notre Dame in overtime.

    Elsewhere, BYU’s Zach Wilson continued his surprising ascent to college football’s upper echelon, going 21-of-27 for 359 yards and two touchdowns in the Cougars’ 51-17 beatdown of No. 21 Boise State. But he wasn’t the only Heisman hopeful with an impressive performance Saturday.

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    Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

    What’s the most incredible stat of the 2020 college football season? It’s probably this: Ohio State’s Justin Fields has as many touchdown passes (11) as he has total incompletions. That’s pretty unlikely to hold for the rest of the season unless Fields turns out to be superhuman. But through three games, he’s been as close as it gets in college football, completing 87 percent of his passes and amassing a quarterback rating of 222.4. The Buckeyes will only play eight regular season games, but Fields has plenty of chances to show just how dynamic he can be. 

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    Wilson’s 2019 numbers weren’t terrible—2,382 yards, 11 touchdowns, nine interceptions—but nobody could have predicted a year ago that he’d be a potential Heisman contender with the second-most touchdown passes in all of college football. The Cougars, ranked No. 9 in last week’s Associated Press poll, go as Wilson goes, and so far, that’s been a long ways. Through eight games, he has totaled 2,511 passing yards, another 158 on the ground, 29 total touchdowns, and just two interceptions, all while completing nearly 75 percent of attempts. It’s been 30 years since a player outside what is now considered the Power Five has won the Heisman Trophy. But ironically enough, Ty Detmer played quarterback at BYU, too. 

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    Ken Ruinard/Associated Press

    Even though he had to sit out Clemson’s loss to Notre Dame because he tested positive for COVID-19, Lawrence is still the odds-on favorite as the best player in the country, regardless of position. He’s completed nearly 71 percent of his passes through six games, thrown for 1,833 yards and accounted for 21 total touchdowns, four of which came on the ground. He does have to share the spotlight with Travis Etienne, but as long as the ball runs through Lawrence’s hands under center, he has a chance to put up big numbers. 

    And he’ll have chance to do just that against Florida State’s less-than-stellar defense when Clemson comes off its bye in two weeks. 

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Trask came into this season as one of better quarterbacks in the country, but through five games, he’s been downright elite. He leads the country in touchdown passes (22) despite playing only five games due to COVID-19 protocols in Florida’s program. His 474-yard, four-touchdown performance Saturday against Georgia propelled the Gators to a big win, and he has them right in the thick of contention for a spot in the College Football Playoff. 

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    Josh Morgan/Associated Press

    The Heisman used to be an award won somewhat regularly by running backs. But these days, it’s all about passers—of the last 14 winners, 12 have been quarterbacks. As the lone non-quarterback on this list, Etienne has to dominate to overtake any of the signal-callers, and for most of this season, he has. Despite a lackluster performance Saturday in Clemson’s loss to Notre Dame (26 touches, 85 yards, 1 TD) Etienne still leads the country in yards from scrimmage with 1,125. He’s also racked up 12 total touchdowns, despite playing alongside Lawrence, likely to be the first player taken in the 2021 NFL Draft. 

    With Lawrence back in the lineup, defenses won’t be able to focus quite as much on Etienne. Expect a big came coming off the bye on November 21. 

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