The games prior to rivalry week can be perilous for top teams and the Heisman candidates who play for them. Looking ahead to a game the team circled at the beginning of the season is natural, but overlooking an opponent before that game could be a season killer. Fortunately, these players are made differently.
Each of the Heisman candidates on this list survived their prerivalry matchups, setting up an interesting week in which Heisman candidates’ resumes can dull or shine depending on their performances against their respective school’s most hated opponent. With the momentum they gained from this week, these players have even more to play for in the upcoming week.
Here are the athletes who helped their Heisman cases the most in Week 13.
Joe Burrow, LSU
After a nearly 500-yard, five-touchdown performance last week against Ole Miss, Joe Burrow’s 327-passing-yard, three-touchdown day against Arkansas is almost pedestrian. That’s how spoiled the Tigers have been this season.
He still sits on the top of the country in pass accuracy despite playing in the tough SEC and is behind only Tua Tagovailoa for the best passing efficiency rating. He also has the second-most passing touchdowns while playing for the best team in the country.
LSU is on the verge of clinching its first SEC West championship since 2011, and Burrow has been the key to everything. That deserves an invite to New York in December.
Justin Fields, Ohio State
The Buckeyes passed another ranked test against No. 8 Penn State, and Justin Fields continues to show that he is worthy of Heisman consideration. Leading an undefeated team into playoff position tends to get that kind of attention, after all.
He didn’t have a monster game, but he added to his impressive resume with 188 passing yards, two touchdowns and 68 rushing yards. He currently sits fourth in the country in both passing efficiency and touchdowns responsible for, and his play has been invaluable to a team that lost a Heisman candidate in Dwayne Haskins last year.
The season is winding down, but Fields can really separate himself from the pack with a big performance against Michigan in “The Game” in the upcoming week.
Chase Young, Ohio State
On the other side of the ball in Columbus, Chase Young returned from a two-game suspension and showed why he might be the best player in the entire country. Despite the games he missed, he may still walk away with the Heisman Trophy in December. He has been that dominant this year.
Penn State was helpless to stop Young on Saturday, allowing the talented defensive end to rack up nine tackles, including four tackles for loss, three sacks and two forced fumbles. He’s currently at the top of the country in sacks and forced fumbles. He’s also second in tackles for loss on a team that looks like it’s on its way to the College Football Playoff.
The suspension may lose him some votes, but his incredible numbers can’t be denied. If the award is supposed to go to the best player in the country, it would be hard to justify not giving it to Young.
Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma
It wasn’t a particularly dominating day by the Sooners, but they still got a big win against TCU to keep their playoff chances alive. For Heisman candidate Jalen Hurts though, it was another standout effort that further solidifies his Heisman credentials.
The graduate transfer quarterback finished the game against the Horned Frogs with only 145 passing yards, but he gained 173 rushing yards and added four touchdowns to his burgeoning total. He now leads the country with the most touchdowns responsible for and is second among quarterbacks for most rushing yards.
Hurts’ dynamic play has powered the Sooners to great heights this year. Even if they fail to break into the College Football Playoff, he is more than deserving of an invite to the Heisman Trophy presentation.
Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
Another week, another 200-yard rushing game for Jonathan Taylor, who is proving that no matter what happens this season for the Badgers, he will keep chugging along. That should give voters something to think about.
Wisconsin’s stud running back gained 222 rushing yards against Purdue, marking it his third straight 200-plus rushing yard performance. He also added another touchdown to his total, giving him the sole lead for touchdowns from scrimmage in the nation.
Not a lot of running backs have garnered the attention Taylor has this year, but he continues to prove he is worthy of the hype. Whether that translates into enough Heisman votes is left to be seen, but his production speaks volumes.