5. Sammy Watkins: Wide Receiver, Clemson
Watkins has taken the college football world by storm. As a true freshman, just several months removed from his senior prom, Watkins has been unstoppable on Saturdays. His numbers are staggering, especially when you consider how young the Fort Myers, FL native is. He is thirteenth in the nation in receptions with 64, and his 978 receiving yards is the ninth highest mark this season. Watkins is averaging 15.3 yards per catch, which is the highest mark among receivers with 60 or more receptions. He’s been a touchdown machine as well, with ten receiving touchdowns this season (tied for fifth in the nation). He’s also had three games this season with multiple touchdowns, including a three TD performance against Maryland. Watkins isn’t just a receiving threat though. His 558 kick return yards is the 43rd highest mark in Division 1 football, and he’s averaging almost 27 yards per return. So with all the good, and Clemson being off last week, why has he fallen to the five-spot? Two words….Kellen Moore.
4. Kellen Moore: Quarterback, Boise State
Ever since a two touchdown, two interception performance against Nevada, Kellen Moore has taken his game to another level. In the Broncos three games against Fresno State, Colorado State and Air Force, the senior gunslinger averaged an 80% completion rate and threw for a collective 873 yards with ten touchdowns and just one interception. Last Saturday against UNLV, Moore put up another game of gaudy touchdown numbers despite being inaccurate. He only completed 18 of his 31 passing attempts (58%), for only 219 yards, but he connected five times in the end zone. Out of eight total games this season, Moore has thrown three or more touchdowns in seven of them. He also has four games with four or more scoring tosses. Moore is fourth in the country in passer rating with a 179.5, and his 74.1% completion rate is the second highest. He’s also second in the nation in touchdowns with 29, and has only been sacked 3 times despite 259 drop backs. Simply put, Moore has been exceptional this season. He certainly has the numbers to win the award, with a projected 44-7 touchdown to interception ratio, but his lack of passing yards (on pace for 3,344) makes him a long shot at best.
3. Landry Jones: Quarterback, Oklahoma
Landry Jones has been one of the most explosive quarterbacks this season. He’s averaging 372 yards and three touchdowns per game. So for Jones, Saturdays performance against Texas A&M was definitely surprising. He was far from accurate, completing just 47% of his passes, and fell far short of his 372 yard average with 255 passing yards on the day. He also threw just two touchdowns, only his third game this season with less than three scoring tosses. Still, his numbers are impressive. He is second in passing yardage, behind only Houston’s Case Keenum. His 64.6% completion rate may not look impressive at first glance, but it’s 30th in the nation, and only two quarterbacks ahead of him (Arizona’s Nick Foles and Texas Tech’s Seth Dodge) have more passing attempts them him. His 28 touchdowns is tied with USC’s Matt Barkley for the third highest in the nation. On pace for 4,465 passing yards with 37 touchdowns and only four sacks, Jones definitely has the numbers to be the number one guy on my list. So why isn’t he? Because he’s also averaging one interception a game, and when you compare that to a quarterback like Stanford’s Andrew Luck’s five interceptions in nine games, you really can’t make a case for Jones to be number one.
2. Trent Richardson: Running Back, Alabama
There wasn’t a player in the country that had a better stage Saturday night then Richardson. The scene was almost written, Richardson’s Heisman legacy would be cemented. A huge performance against LSU would have virtually sealed the deal for the junior superstar. But then the game actually played out, and the game of the century ended without either team seeing what the end zone looked like. It’s hard to say Richardson had a bad game. He was practically Alabama’s entire offense, with 169 of the Tide’s 295 total yards. Still for a guy who had scored a touchdown in nine straight games dating back to last season’s bowl victory over Michigan State it was definitely an off day. However, the Heisman isn’t about one game, no matter how big that game is, and his numbers speak for themselves. His yardage ranking has slid a bit the last two weeks, but he still sits ninth in the nation in rushing yards with 1,078. His 6.3 yard per carry average is the 32nd highest mark, and it’s also tied with Virginia Techs David Wilson for the highest average among running backs with 170 or more carries. Even more impressive is his 17 touchdowns, which slides in as the fifth highest number in the country. Richardson still has a big game against Auburn on the schedule, but after faltering Saturday night looks to have taken a backseat for good to my number one guy.
1. Andrew Luck: Quarterback, Stanford
If there is one guy who is thankful for Richardson’s less than stellar performance, it’s Stanford’s Andrew Luck. Luck was able to throw three touchdowns on Saturday, but his performance was average when you consider it was against Oregon State. He completed 67% of his passes, and threw for just 206 yards. He also threw another interception, his fourth in five games. Still, Luck has been the best quarterback in college football this year. He’s fifth in the country in quarterback rating with a 174.1, and his 71.3% completion rate is the ninth highest mark this season. His 2,424 yards only ranks 20th, but it’s still an extremely impressive mark when you consider the Stanford offense averages 225 rushing yards per game. He’s thrown 26 touchdowns this season, which is tied for the fifth highest in the nation. He also has thrown just five interceptions this season, which is four less than Landry Jones in just as many games. He’s on pace for 3,232 yards with 35 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. More importantly, he’s also led his team to an undefeated season so far. For that reason, he’s my favorite to win the award, and I’m not sure it’s that close anymore.
Case Keenum: Quarterback, Houston
Keenum had another outstanding game on Saturday. He was 39 of 44 for 407 yards and two touchdowns. He leads all quarterbacks with 3,626 passing yards and 34 touchdowns. The only knock on him is Houston’s lack of competition, which features zero top 25 opponents.
Robert Griffin III: Quarterback, Baylor
Griffin’s stock has taken a huge hit ever since October rolled around on the calendar. Three losses in five games, two in blowout fashion. Last weekend, Griffin was impressive with a four touchdown performance against Missouri, but the senior superstar still has virtually no chance to win the award with the Bears weak strength of schedule and three losses already.