Heisman Watch 2017: Predictions for College Football's Most Prestigious Award

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistDecember 6, 2017

Baker Mayfield has an excellent chance to bring home the Heisman Trophy.
Baker Mayfield has an excellent chance to bring home the Heisman Trophy.Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

The Heisman Trophy may be the most storied and meaningful trophy that goes to individual performers in all of North American team sports.

The Stanley Cup, Vince Lombardi Trophy and the Commissioner's Trophy that goes to the World Series winner may be the most famous team trophies, but the individual awards in those sports pale by comparison to the notoriety of the Heisman.

This years finalists for the award include Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, Louisville signal caller Lamar Jackson and Stanford running back Bryce Love.

While Mayfield appears to be the front-runner for the award, Jackson actually has similar numbers to the ones he did last year when he won the trophy, while Love has had an explosive year for the Cardinal.

Mayfield came into the season as a co-favorite for the award with USC signal caller Sam Darnold. The Trojans quarterback has had a wonderful year, but not one that would put him in consideration for the Heisman.

The 22-year-old has completed 262 of 369 passes for 4,340 yards with an amazing 41 touchdown passes and just five interceptions. His yards per pass attempts is an incredible 11.76 yards per throw, and he has also gained 310 rushing yards and scored five touchdowns.

Jackson is bidding to become the first two-time Heisman Trophy winner since Archie Griffin accomplished the feat in 1974 and '75. The 20-year-old has largely been an afterthought this year because the Cardinals have been a good team (8-4) but not an elite one.

Jackson has completed 241 of 399 passes for 3,489 yards with 25 touchdowns and six interceptions. He is a remarkable runner, gaining 1,443 yards and scoring 17 touchdowns this season. Jackson is the most versatile two-way threat in the nation.

Love has simply been remarkable as he has been carrying the Stanford offense. The North Carolina native has rushed for 1,973 yards on 237 carries, averaging 8.3 yards per carry, and he has scored 17 touchdowns. 

Mayfield was suspended for the start of the West Virginia game in November by head coach Lincoln Riley. He had been shown grabbing his crotch on national television and spewing F-bombs when the Sooners played Kansas.

Mayfield later spoke about his embarrassment over the incident, per John E. Hoover of The Sporting News: "If I could go back, I'd completely do it differently. But I can't do that. I can only move forward now and show people that's not who I want to be."

Mayfield has always been a confident leader, but that incident could turn some voters against him. 

Jackson certainly has the kind of statistics that are worthy of strong Heisman consideration. However, he gave credit to Mayfield and Love for having big seasons.

"I'm honored to be chosen as a finalist with these two outstanding players," Jackson said in a statement, per Jake Lourim of the Louisville Courier Journal. "They each had great seasons and deserve this tremendous honor. I want to thank all my teammates and coaches for achieving this honor together."

Saquon Barkley of Penn State had a memorable start to the season and finished the year with 1,134 yards and 16 touchdowns. However, after a great first half, Barkley slowed down and did not make it as one of the final candidates.

       

Prediction

While there's no doubt that Mayfield's confidence that may border on cockiness and arrogance can irritate some voters, he has had a brilliant year in leading Oklahoma to a 12-1 record and the College Football Playoff.

Jackson is a worthy candidate and deserves strong consideration, while Love is a powerful and game-changing runner.

However, Mayfield was the most impactful player in college football at the most important position. He deserves the Heisman, and he should win it decisively.