Heisman Watch 2016: Breaking Down Top Candidates in the Race After Week 10

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When it comes to the Heisman Trophy race in 2016, there’s Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, and then there’s everybody else.

Jackson is the favorite to win college football’s top individual prize, and Week 10 saw him likely extend his advantage over some of the other top players in the country with a brilliant performance in Louisville’s 52-7 win over Boston College on Saturday.

The 19-year-old quarterback tallied seven total touchdowns (four passing, three rushing) and 416 total yards in the rout. He’s made quick scores a trademark of his brilliant play, scoring on a 69-yard touchdown run on just the third play from scrimmage. It was the first big play in a monster first quarter for the sophomore.

There’s still plenty of time for others to try to catch Jackson in the Heisman chase, but many of the other top contenders for the trophy turned in relatively benign performances on Saturday, though there were some standouts. Simply put, if Jackson’s various Heisman competitors aren’t turning in superlative performances every week, they’re losing ground.

Here’s a look at the players with the top Heisman odds on Odds Shark as of Nov. 1, along with their Week 10 statistics. 

Player Odds (as of Nov. 1) Week 10 Performance
Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville -300 vs. Boston College: 12-of-17, 231 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT; 15 carries, 185 yards, 3 TD
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson +450 vs. Syracuse: 13-of-16, 169 yards, 2 TD; 7 carries, 39 yards, 1 TD
Jabrill Peppers, S/LB, Michigan +450 vs. Maryland: 5 tackles, 1 TFL, 19 rush yards, 14 return yards
Jake Browning, QB, Washington +2000 vs. Cal: 19-of-28, 378 yards 6 TD; 7 carries, 14 yards
J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State +3300 vs. Nebraska: 26-of-38, 290 yards, 4 TD; 8 carries, 39 yards
Jalen Hurts, QB, Alabama +3300 vs. LSU: 10-of-19, 107 yards, 1 INT; 20 carries, 114 yards, 1 TD, 1 fumble
Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State +5000 vs. NC State: 18 carries, 65 yards, 1 TD; 2 receptions, 17 yards

Odds Shark, ESPN.com

If there was one player who crept closer to Jackson’s top-dog status, it was Washington’s Jake Browning. In a 66-27 win over California, Browning threw for 378 yards and six touchdowns without an interception. Nearly all of that damage came by the midway point of the third quarter—a concentrated display of pure passing prowess.

Browning is no threat to run out of the backfield, but he’s amassed a phenomenal record as a passer this year, posting 34 touchdowns against just three interceptions. He came into the week with the best passer efficiency in college football and has only extended his advantage in that category.

ESPN Stats & Info noted that he came into the game tossing touchdowns at an unprecedented rate: 

He also broke a school record on the night, per the team’s official Twitter account: 

Jackson’s dual-threat abilities make him a more appealing pick than Browning, but the latter’s ability to dominate games through the air makes him a top contender for the Heisman Trophy. Washington’s big win and Texas A&M’s upset loss to Mississippi State also mean the Huskies should move into the Top Four in the next College Football Playoff rankings, which should only boost Browning’s stock when it comes to the stiff-arming trophy.

While his display wasn’t quite as ridiculous as Browning’s, Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett helped his own cause in a 62-3 win over Nebraska, a Top 10 team heading into the weekend. Barrett threw for 290 yards and four touchdowns while adding another 39 yards on the ground. 

ESPN College Football provided some of his highlights from Saturday: 

Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers won’t always blow you away with his numbers, but he continues to deserve consideration for his ability to excel at multiple positions. ESPN noted that he played six different positions in the Wolverines’ blowout win over Maryland: 

Though it’s not necessarily a position, you could add returner to that list. 

Peppers was also involved in a nifty trick play that resulted in a huge chunk of yards for Michigan, per the team’s official Twitter account: 

The difficulty of playing in all three phases of the game—and more often than not, playing well—cannot be understated. Peppers’ impact on the game isn’t always easily quantified, but he’s the most talented player on one of the best teams in the country. There will be dual-threat quarterbacks every season who put up eye-popping numbers, but there won’t always be players with the versatility of Peppers. He is a rare breed.

That said, it will likely take a disaster from Jackson and a few more touchdowns or turnovers created from Peppers for him to snatch away the Heisman Trophy. 

Deshaun Watson put up solid numbers in Clemson’s 54-0 beatdown of Syracuse, but his day was cut short by a shoulder injury suffered late in the second quarter. Clemson announced his injury was a bruised shoulder but elected to keep him off the field in the second half.

Watson did nothing to hurt his Heisman chances, as he was well on his way to some huge numbers, but time spent off the field is a major opportunity lost when it comes to this Heisman race.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Despite being a true freshman, Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts has emerged as a Heisman candidate in leading the top-ranked team in the nation. He scored the lone touchdown in Alabama’s 10-0 win over LSU on Saturday, but his two turnovers and pedestrian passing display hurt his cause.

Overall, Hurts’ passing numbers pale in comparison to some of the top quarterbacks on this list, so barring an unprecedented improvement in that area, he’s not going to win the trophy.

San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey has drawn dark-horse Heisman buzz all season long, but he had a pedestrian (for him, at least) performance in the Aztecs’ 55-0 blowout of Hawaii. Pumphrey tallied 112 rushing yards but didn’t score a touchdown on the day.

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

While he’s still the top rusher in college football, playing for a Mountain West school means his schedule is significantly softer than those of the players at the big schools.

Plus, if we are to pit him against Jackson, it should be noted that the latter has surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark this season and has more touchdowns on the ground than Pumphrey

Even if Jackson wasn’t playing quarterback, his rushing totals alone might give him Heisman consideration. But he’s dominating in both phases of the game, and it will take some special performances from those chasing his shadow and a significant slowdown from the man himself for him to not win the illustrious prize.