The Election has come and gone, but there’s one controversial race not yet settled in this country, the Heisman race, and for the first time in years, Penn State has a candidate, Saquon Barkley.
Penn State’s star sophomore running back is having a stellar season as he’s first in rushing yards in the Big Ten, and second in scoring, not counting kickers. Barkley has made headlines within the conference since he broke onto the scene last season, but its his elite play in last handful of games that has him on the national stage.
In his last four games, Barkley has gone for 789 total yards and 5 total touchdowns. More importantly though, Barkley’s Lions are on a five game winning streak to bring their record to 7-2, they are also ranked 10th in the playoff committee’s latest rankings. With Barkley in the backfield, the team is poised to go 10-2 and make a New Year’s Day bowl game.
Obviously this is good for the Nittany Lions and their fans, but where does this put Barkley in comparison to the other top Heisman candidates? Let’s just say he still has a lot of ground to make up.
The front runner right now is Louisville QB Lamar Jackson, and barring a serious injury, Jackson is primed to run away with the award. Jackson is in a world of his own right now, completing 59% of his passes for 2,753 yards with 26 touchdowns to six interceptions. Jackson also has a stunning 1,183 rushing yards and 19 rushing scores, both better than the numbers Barkley has posted through the same amount of games. Following Jackson is another ACC quarterback in Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, who was my preseason favorite to win the award. Watson has completed 64.4% of his throws for 2,497 yards and 24 touchdowns to 10 picks. He’s added 365 rushing yards and 2 scores on the ground. Following these two is another QB, but one not many people know about, Washington’s Jake Browning. The sophomore has completed 67.7% of his passes for 2,273 yards and a almost perfect 34 touchdowns to only three picks. Browning may be hurt in the race by not getting the same kind of attention as the two mentioned above, but his numbers defiantly earn him a spot in New York City. The last candidate expected to be invited to the announcement, is defensive stud Jabrill Peppers of Michigan. Peppers has 49 tackles and three sacks, but its the fact that he’s played so many positions that makes him worth the consideration. On defense, he plays safety, corner, and linebacker, on offense he’s played running back, where he has 150 yards and 3 touchdowns, and wide receiver where he only has two catches for three yards. Peppers also returns kicks and punts, he’s returned a punt for a score and is averaging 27 yards per kick return.
So, as you can see, Barkley has an up hill climb to get an invite to the PlayStation Theater on December 10th, but its still possible. I think the only candidate listed above that Barkley would be able to jump, would be Peppers, solely based off of the fact that defense players are rarely considered for the award, and he does not have overwhelming stats at this time, grant it, he hasn’t played in the second half of many games, as the Wolverines continue their dismantling of the Big Ten.
For Saquon to have a chance to at least be present at the ceremony, I think he needs to go for 700 total yards and at least five touchdowns in the last three games. Add those numbers to his already 1,312 yards of total offense, and 13 total scores, that would bring him to 2,000 total yards and knocking on the door of 20 touchdowns. It can be done, Penn State plays a solid Indiana team this week, so Barkley may be more of a force in the passing game, but after that they play 2-7 Rutgers, and 2-7 Michigan State, two teams I think Barkley could do some serious damage too.
In the end, I think Saquon Barkley will come up a little short on getting an invite to the Big Apple, not because of his play, but because of the excellent play of the four deserving candidates above him in the race. Barkley is only a sophomore, so next year I can defiantly see us putting him in the same category as John Cappelletti as being the only Penn State players to win College Football’s greatest award.