The Heisman Trophy Trust makes it clear to voters: ballots must include three candidates, ranked 1-2-3, or it will not be considered a valid ballot.
But with Baker Mayfield’s forthcoming landslide, does it even matter who comes in second and third?
The Franchise Heisman Watch, consisting of 11 voters this week, was unanimous for the fourth consecutive week: Mayfield is the easy choice for No. 1.
But No. 2 and No. 3 is quite a bit harder.
Is it Bryce Love, the talented Stanford running back who ranks second nationally in rushing yards and has 10 100-yard games for the 9-3 Cardinal?
Is it Jonathan Taylor, the Wisconsin runner who’s third in the nation in rushing and will soon break Adrian Peterson’s freshman rushing record (1,925 yards) for the unbeaten Badgers?
Is it Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, last year’s winner who’s still putting up ridiculous passing and rushing numbers (he leads the nation in total offense) for the 8-4 Cardinals?
Is it Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson, who, like his 10-2 Tigers, is as hot as anybody in the country right now?
Is it Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, the early big-media favorite who has fallen off dramatically but still has eye-popping all-purpose and touchdown numbers for the 10-2 Nittany Lions?
Is it Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph, who leads the nation, by a wide margin, in total touchdowns and passing yards for the 9-3 Cowboys?
If Mayfield were to throw five interceptions and the Sooners, a 7-point favorite, were to lose to TCU next week in the Big 12 Championship Game, that would certainly cost him some votes (which are due the following Monday).
But even if Mayfield does implode, has any other candidate distinguished himself as an easy choice to supplant Mayfield? Perhaps a huge day — like, 300 yards and 4 TDs — by Love or Taylor or Johnson in their conference title games might be enough to take votes away from the Oklahoma QB and challenge Mayfield’s big lead. But that looks like the only scenario by which Mayfield doesn’t become OU’s sixth Heisman winner.
If Mayfield falters but no one else blows up, Mayfield still wins because there’s just not a clear alternative. Some of the 929 Heisman voters may be looking for an excuse to not vote for Mayfield. But among the other available candidates, those voters likely won’t be able to agree on one runaway choice.
Two weeks ago, Mayfield was a 1-to-20 favorite in Las Vegas to win the Heisman, meaning bettors had to bet $20 just to win $1. Last week, Mayfield was taken off the board because he’s just too big a favorite.
That’s never happened before.
The reality is there’s only one winner of the 83rd Heisman Trophy, and that will be Mayfield.
But the ballots do have three slots. The Heisman Trust needs someone to sit next to Mayfield come Dec. 9.
Week 6 Franchise Heisman Watch
- Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma (11) … 33
- Bryce Love, RB, Stanford … 16
- Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin … 8
- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville … 6
- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State … 1
- Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn … 1