There are a couple of names that we have had our eyes on all season long, which has left little wiggle room in this list. That said, hang in for a deep dive at the bottom of the list this week:
1) Lamar Jackson, Quarterback, Louisville
It’s his award to lose. He gave Cardinal fans a little bit of a scare vs Wake Forest Saturday, playing sloppy football, losing a fumble early on, and allowing the Demon Deacons to hang around. But then in the 4th quarter, the switch flipped. Jackson led Louisville to a 34-point 4th quarter (34!!) to turn a close game into one that will look like a blowout the next day. He didn’t have a great day passing (14-26, 145 yards, 1 TD), but ran for 153 yards and gave viewers a few of the highlight-reel plays we’ve come to expect every week. Making things even better for Jackson, the Cardinals have a primetime televised game vs Houston Thursday night, another chance to showcase his talents.
2) Deshaun Watson, Quarterback, Clemson
What a game, but did it help his chances at all? Watson completed 52-of-70 passes for 580 yards and three touchdowns against Pitt on Saturday. That was the good. Now here’s the bad news: not only did his team lose the game, their first loss of the season, but Watson will be remembered more for a late interception in the end zone that gave the Panthers life. Watson has some eye-popping stats this season, including his five touchdowns against Louisville, but one stands out more than the others: 13 interceptions. With 2 low-profile games(at Wake Forest, vs South Carolina) until a possible ACC Championship Game, Watson needs to put up monster numbers in a hurry.
3) Dalvin Cook, Running Back, Florida State
Another game, another 100 yards (108 to be exact), another touchdown. Ho-hum. The biggest problem for Cook this past week against Boston College as that he wasn’t needed. The team easily rolled BC, 45-7, building a fast lead and never looking back. Cook averaged 6 yards per carry, so you’d have to wonder what he would have done with more than 18 rush attempts. The other big problem for Cook at this point in the season is his team doesn’t have high profile games remaining. They play at Syracuse next week, and then the rivalry game vs Florida, who is now unranked.
4) James Conner, Running Back, Pittsburgh
132 yards and a touchdown in a win over the league’s number 1 defense and a legitimate title contender. It was one of his best games of the season, and his inspiring season has added another chapter. Unfortunately for his Heisman hopes, the players above just have better overall numbers and more consistency.
5) Christian Wilkins, Defensive Line, Clemson
The Tigers’ most dominant defensive player, he’s played DT, DE, and even TE and RB. There aren’t numbers to quantify his impact, but opposing offenses don’t doubt it. He is a very unlikely invite to New York, as the top two on this list have locked themselves in as the conference favorites, but why not give the big man a shout?!