Some of the top 2015 Heisman Trophy candidates have one final opportunity during championship week to bolster their résumé for college football’s biggest award.
There’s a deserving crop of All-American talents contending for the illustrious hardware, but which players are in the top five—and who holds the No. 1 spot—heading into the final weekend of the season?
5. Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Remember when Texas Tech couldn’t find a scholarship for Baker Mayfield? Good times, man. Unless you’re from Lubbock, that is.
After sitting out the 2014 season due to NCAA transfer rules, the junior quarterback won the starting job and guided Oklahoma to a Big 12 championship as well as a probable College Football Playoff appearance.
Mayfield completed 68.6 percent of his passes, throwing 35 touchdowns compared to just five interceptions. He also ran for 420 yards and seven scores, helping the Sooners finish 11-1.
Although it’s highly unlikely Mayfield will take home the Heisman, he at least deserves a trip to New York after a prolific campaign.
4. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
Ezekiel Elliott’s disastrous interview after the loss to Michigan State sparked an unreasonable negative feeling around the Ohio State running back. Not only was the emotional moment a non-issue, he was right to be upset after not being the focal point of the offense.
The junior proceeded to torch Michigan for 213 yards and two touchdowns the following week, bringing his season total to 1,672 yards and 19 scores. Elliott topped the 100-yard mark and reached the end zone in 11 of 12 games. He caught 26 passes for 176 yards, too.
Had Ohio State reached the Big Ten Championship Game, Elliott would’ve received a shot to steal the Heisman. Since he’s sitting at home this weekend, the NFL-bound runner will probably settle for an earned invitation.
3. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
There was no better all-purpose weapon during the 2015 season than Christian McCaffrey. And, quite frankly, it wasn’t even close.
McCaffrey piled up 1,640 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, snatched 37 receptions for 435 yards and three scores and tallied the 922 kick-return yards, taking one to the house. Just for good measure, he threw a 28-yard touchdown to bolster his total offense number.
Plus, the only reason McCaffrey didn’t score more often is Stanford regularly used Remound Wright—69 carries but 13 touchdowns—at the goal line.
Stanford will take on USC in the Pac-12 Championship Game, so McCaffrey should finish the year as the nation’s No. 1 kick returner. With 102 rushing yards, he’ll be the second-most prolific runner. Not bad for a sophomore.
2. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
Clemson is one victory away from effectively clinching a spot in the College Football Playoff, and Deshaun Watson is the biggest reason why Dabo Swinney’s team sits at 12-0.
The dual-threat weapon connected with his targets on 70.4 percent of 371 attempts, amassing 3,223 yards and 27 touchdowns while tossing a not-great yet not-awful 10 interceptions. However, Watson atoned for some passing mistakes with 756 yards and nine scores as a rusher.
Quarterbacks of undefeated power-conference teams are regularly leading candidates for the Heisman. As long as Clemson topples North Carolina during the ACC Championship Game, Watson will be no different.
1. Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
If you’re a betting kind of person, the smart choice is Derrick Henry. However, the stakes should be strictly limited to non-monetary wagers, because the Alabama running back boasts 1/3 odds, per Bovada via CFTalk.
Henry scored at least one touchdown in all 12 regular season games en route to setting a program record with 22 scores, and he’s not done. The bulldozing back also eclipsed the 200-yard barrier four times, highlighted by a 271-yard outburst against Auburn to seal the Tide’s place in the SEC Championship Game.
Although Henry—who leads the nation with 1,797 yards—hasn’t locked up the hardware, he’s a decent performance during an Alabama win away from making the Heisman Trophy presentation a mere formality.