Like the college football odds to reach the playoffs, the 2015-16 Heisman Trophy witnessed a major shakeup in Week 11, thanks to a number of injuries and a series of online College Football lines upsets. The backs still hold the majority of the top shares in the race, but there is new running back at the forefront of the trophy contention and his name is not Leonard Fournette. Find out who it is by checking out this week’s Heisman Watch detailed below.
Let’s Take a Closer Look at the NCAA Football Odds Heisman Trophy Update Entering Week 12
— ESPN (@espn) November 17, 2015
Derrick Henry, Alabama, RB
After posting a 210-yard, three-touchdown performance in the Tide’s big win over LSU in Week 10, Henry once again impressed the Heisman voters with 204 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries in Alabama’s 31-6 victory over Mississippi State in Week 11. This performance made him the first Alabama running back to post back-to-back 200-yard games. Even more impressively, both of his last two opponents were ranked, with LSU at No. 2 and Mississippi State at No. 17. Against the six ranked opponents Alabama has faced this season, Henry is averaging 178.7 rushing yards (totaling to 1,072), and has topped 125 yards against all of them, including three 200-yard games.
His carries have equally been impressive, totaling 154 carries in the six games, while averaging 6.9 yards per attempt and scoring a total of 12 touchdowns in the process. With 1,458 yards and 19 touchdowns to his name on the season, and a solid record as SEC’s leader in rushing attempts, the 6’3 running back should not only be good to continue his sterling performances in the bid to manage to break a good number of Bama records, but he should easily make solid value of his NCAAF odds as the current Heisman favorite.
Henry’s next games with the No. 2 Alabama (9-1, 6-1 SEC) come against the soft Charleston Southern and the 5-4 Auburn in the Iron Bowl, which should further allow him to pad his numbers, given that both teams have poor running defenses. Also, Alabama’s reserve running back Kenyan Drake suffered a fractured arm that will keep him out a couple of weeks, which should translate to more carries for Henry. As thing stand, the biggest test for Henry will be against Florida in the SEC Championship game. If he can pile up another huge day on the ground on that day, the Heisman Trophy will undeniably be his to lose.
Deshaun Watson, Clemson, QB
Largely thanks to his clutch performance over the recent weeks, and with a bit of some help in the Big 12 due to Trevone Boykin’s tumultuous run in the last two weeks, Watson now finds himself in the steering wheel of the top QBs competing for the Heisman race. In Week 10, he exploded for 404 yards of total offense and a TD in Clemson’s 23-13 win over No. 16 Florida State, making him this season’s ACC leader in total yards (302.9 per contest) and touchdowns (21). And if you thought that was impressive, then you’d marvel at his Week 11 performance, as he accounted for two touchdowns passing and 360 yards through the air, while also racking up a game-best 101 yards rushing and another score, giving the No. 1 ranked Tigers a crucial 37-27 win over Syracuse on Saturday.
With his season continuing to look better, and a baby-soft clash against the struggling Wake Forest Demon Deacons (3-7, 1-5 ACC) this Saturday, don’t expect Watson and the top-ranked Clemson (10-0) to slow down their run. If Clemson can particularly finish the season unbeaten, expect Watson’s name to feature strongly in a tight race against Henry for the Heisman trophy.
Ezekiel Elliot, Ohio State, RB
Even with J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones continuing to do their thing in the offense as quarterbacks, Elliot remains to be a rock-steady supply of ground attack for the Buckeyes this season. After rushing for 114 yards and a touchdown in Ohio State’s 28-14 win over Minnesota in Week 10, Elliot topped the 100-yard mark for the 15th straight game by carrying the ball 27 times for 181 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns in Ohio State’s 28-3 victory over Illinois.
Despite owning a stellar stat line of 1425 rushing yards and 16 scores on ground (plus 24 receptions for 169 receiving yards) this season, Elliot has mostly had to settle for the second-best or third-best running back spot in the Heisman race this season. If he can, however, have a big game in this week’s Game-of-the-Week encounter between the No. 13 Michigan State Spartans (9-1) and the undefeated No. 3 Buckeyes (10-0) in Ohio, you can be sure that his stock will rise high considerably. And given the way the Bucks are looking like a sure bet to reach the playoffs, buying Elliot in the Heisman NCAA Football odds when his price is still affordable right now would be a well-advised move.
Dalvin Cook, Florida State, RB
Despite losing to the Tigers in Week 10, Cook proved to be a constant menace to Clemson, accumulating 194 rushing yards and a score, including a 75-yard run on his first carry in that game. Over the weekend, he was at it again, making 22 rushing attempts for 138 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns to help the Seminoles to a 34-17 win over NC State, his sixth 100-yard game this season. Notably, his splendid performance against NC State pushed his numbers 1366 rushing yards and 14 TDs on the season, allowing him to break FSU’s single-season rushing yards record of 1,242, which was set by Warrick Dunn in 1995. It’s hard to see Cook overtaking Henry, Watson or Elliot in the few games left, but after Boykin and Fournette quickly faded from the top in just two weeks, we can’t rule out that from happening.
Leonard Fournette, LSU, RB
So, Fournette did record his 17th touchdown of the season, along with 91 yards on 19 carries over the weekend against Arkansas—numbers that were way better than the season-worst 31 yards on 19 carries for career-low 1.63 yards per carry performance in the 30-16 loss to Alabama two weeks ago. However, Fournette showed signs of hangover against the ‘Backs (maybe due to the excessive hits against Bama) and the Tigers (as a team) also looked bereft of ideas against Arkansas, leading to a 31-14 beatdown of LSU in Baton Rouge. With two losses in LSU’s name, the Tigers (7-2) are now all-but out of the SEC championship race, which also means that Fournette’s chances at the Heisman are pretty much done and dusted, even his decent numbers on the season (214 rushing attempts, 1474 rushing yards) will most likely see him finish among the finalists.
Trevone Boykin, TCU, QB
TCU survived a major upset scare against Kansas last week, and that means Boykin (who got injured early in that game and never returned) has one last chance to change to right the Horned Frogs Championship ship before it sinks completely. Losing to Oklahoma State two weeks ago hurt both the Frogs and Boykin, and nearly losing to Kansas saw TCU (9-1) plummet in the national rankings to No. 15 entering Week 12. According to ESPN, TCU Coach Gary Patterson said on Tuesday that Boykin and his top receiver Josh Doctson are still questionable for Saturday’s game at Oklahoma, but both players were improving from their respective injuries.
Patterson reportedly added that if Boykin is able to practice this Thursday, he should be good to play on Saturday. If Boykin is available, as is likely from the look of things, then beating the No. 12 Oklahoma (on the road) could easily resuscitate his Heisman hopes. But if Boykin (3427 passing yards and 29 TDs, plus 596 rushing yards and 6 rushing TDs) and the Frogs lose to OU, then be sure that it will be the end of the road for Boykin’s Heisman hopes and TCU’s chances at claiming a share of the Big 12 crown.