Things to Watch: Heisman Trophy race implications

The Heisman Trophy race gets real now.

Those September and October hopefuls can be tenuous as we found out last week, when the two front-runners slipped back into the pack. LSU's Leonard Fournette ran for 31 yards in a loss to Alabama. TCU's Trevone Boykin threw four interceptions in a loss to Oklahoma State.

Now more than ever the Heisman race usually turns into a college football MVP award with voters looking toward the best players on the best teams to find a winner. See: Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston the last two seasons.

Voters also get lured in by strong finishes. See: Johnny Manziel and Robert Griffin in recent years.

Now that the deck has been reshuffled here are some games to watch this week with major Heisman implications.

No. 3 Alabama at No. 20 Mississippi State

Tide tailback Derrick Henry has surged toward the front of the Heisman Trophy race. The junior has 17 touchdowns and no player in the country is averaging more yards per game on the ground against conference opponents (159.83).

For the Bulldogs, watch out for Dak Prescott. The Mississippi State quarterback found out last season how quickly Heisman love can fade when you falter late in the season. The senior has 18 touchdowns passes, just one interception and is averaging 307.7 total yards per game.

It's not just about wins and losses, but if Prescott can lead the Bulldogs to an upset in Starkville, Mississippi, on Saturday, he'll become a serious contender.

No. 12 Oklahoma at No. 4 Baylor

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield averages 337.4 total yards per game and is second in the country in passer rating behind injured Baylor quarterback Seth Russell.

The Sooners have lost two straight against the Bears, being blown out each time. Snapping that streak and getting Oklahoma back to the top of the Big 12 would be a nice line on his Heisman resume.

On the Baylor side, with Russell out receiver Corey Coleman now is his team's one and only Heisman contender. Receivers rarely win Heisman's but Coleman has 20 touchdowns, the FBS record is 27, and he leads the nation in yards per game (147.3) and is averaging 20.3 yards per catch.

Oregon at No. 7 Stanford

All those late-night eastern time zone kick offs are not helping Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey, but voters should be paying attention.

McCaffrey leads the nation in all-purpose yards with 241.6 per game, 57 more than the next closest player from a Power Five conference.

The Cardinal get a prime-time game and the Ducks' defense should provide ample opportunity for McCaffrey to showcase has many talents.

No. 1 Clemson at Syracuse

OK, this shouldn't be much of a test for Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson, but this starts a three-game stretch where he can pad those stats against the Orange, Wake Forest and South Carolina.

Remember, best player on best team often gets a lot of support.

Watson has had very good year (13th in passer rating at 162.79, 2,233 yards, 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions). If he can light it up in November and lead Clemson to the College Football Playoff, at the least he can earn an invite to New York as a Heisman finalist on Dec. 12.


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