We’re entering the meat of the 2019 college football season. Conference play is in full force and the standouts players are being tested every week. This past Saturday, Joe Burrow and LSU took on Florida and their elite defense, Jalen Hurts was human against Texas, and Tua Tagovailoa played some fourth quarter snaps.
Honorable mentions: Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State; Chase Young, Ohio State; Alabama’s four receivers
5. Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
Jonathan Taylor is the only non-quarterback in the Heisman race, although he’s well outside the top 3 or even top 4. He’s the best player on an undefeated Wisconsin and he’s putting absurd stats — 825 yards and 14 TDs — but it’s not like he’s single-handedly carrying this team. They have an elite offensive line and that defense has shut out four of their six opponents. Maybe Taylor will jump into real contention if Wisconsin beats Ohio State on Oct. 19, but there’s a chance he falls out of the top 5 if Chuba Hubbard (1094 yards, 13 TDs) or Chase Young (8.5 sacks) continue to dominate.
4. Justin Fields, Ohio State
Ohio State was idle, but that doesn’t affect Justin Fields’ position. He’s currently fourth place in a three-man race, although he has been absurd in his own right. Fields has thrown for 18 scores and ran for another 8, as his dual-threat abilities make that offense virtually unstoppable. Fields will make a serious Heisman case if his Buckeyes run through a schedule that includes Wisconsin, Penn State, Michigan and potentially Wisconsin again in the Big Ten Championship.
3. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
There needs to be a small caveat that this Alabama receiving corps might be the best in college football history. Jerry Jeudy, Devonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle and Henry Ruggs III would easily win the position group Heisman if it was a thing. Instead, we have to reward the magician throwing them the balls. Tagovailoa was perfect in 2018, he’s even better this season, as all his efficiency ratings and per-game numbers are up. He’s still probably going to win the Heisman, it’s just that someone has be third place right now.
2. Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma
In the opening paragraph, I said Hurts looked human against Texas. That’s sort of a lie. He threw an interception in the end zone and lost a fumble, but a bad game for Hurts saw him total 466 yards and 4 touchdowns in a win over OU’s archrival. As a run-first quarterback, he’s currently averaging 14 yards per pass, which would shatter Kyler Murray’s record of 11.6. The Sooners have a manageable schedule moving forward — their most challenging games are at Baylor and at Oklahoma State — so watch him put up crazy stats as OU goes undefeated.
1. Joe Burrow, LSU
As good as Tagovailoa and Hurts have been, Joe Burrow has somehow been better. After a very mediocre season in 2018, Burrow has been a revelation. The hype started when he threw for 471 yards and 4 touchdowns in a win over Texas, and it’s only gotten worse as LSU has continued to demolish everyone. The Tigers are now No. 2 in the AP Poll after beating up then-No. 7 Florida. The Gators have an excellent secondary, but Burrow picked it apart as he threw for 293 yards and three scores on 87% passing. LSU will play Mississippi State and Auburn in the next two weeks, then take #1 Alabama. That game against the Tide can make or break Burrow’s Heisman campaign.