After one month there is only one question when it comes to the Heisman Trophy: Can anybody catch Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson in the race to college football’s most prestigious player of the year award?
With enough games in the books and a clear picture of the field emerging, the AP begins its Heisman Watch with Jackson holding a commanding lead.
The AP polled seven of its sports writers who regularly cover college football. None are official Heisman voters because AP prohibits its reporters from voting for awards.
Each submitted a top three and points were handed out in the same manner that they are for the actual Heisman vote. Three for a first-place, two for second, one for third.
The Heisman Trophy will be awarded Dec. 10. Here are AP’s projections going into Week 6:
1. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville (21 points)
So far: The sophomore is the only player in the country who ranks in the top 20 in both yards rushing (137 per game) and passing (325). He leads the nation in touchdowns scored with 14 and has accounted for 28 TDs running and passing.
Next: Jackson has this week off before heading into a five-week stretch of schedule that looks favorable to say the least — Duke, North Carolina State, at Virginia, at Boston College and Wake Forest. Good luck catching Jackson.
2. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson (7)
So far: The preseason favorite got off to a bit off a slow start, but in games at Auburn and against Louisville he showed off that clutchness that Heisman voters like. The numbers definitely have some room to grow. He ranks 61st in the country in passer efficiency rating (138.99), with 14 touchdown passes and seven interceptions. He has only run for 211 yards, with no touchdowns.
Next: at Boston College, Friday night.
3. Greg Ward Jr., QB, Houston (6)
So far: The senior has done more damage as a passer this season, throwing for 331 yards per game and completing 70.7 percent of his throws. When the Cougars have needed him to make big plays with his legs he has come through with five touchdowns.
Next: at Navy.
4. J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State (4)
So far: The Buckeyes’ junior has only faced one big opponent, but played great at Oklahoma. He is fifth in the nation in passer rating (183.13) and has accounted for 17 touchdowns.
5. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford (2)
So far: The junior was rolling along until the Cardinal were manhandled last week by Washington and he was held to 49 yards rushing, plus 30 receiving. He ranks 13th in the nation in rushing at 121.25 yards per game, but he’s No. 1 in all-purpose yards at 214.5. Last year’s runner-up needs to pick up the pace to get back to New York.
Next: vs. Washington State
Others receiving votes: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech (1); Mitch Trubisky, QB North Carolina (1).
AP Heisman watch panel: National Writer Paul Newberry, Georgia; Sports Writer Stephen Hawkins, Texas; Sports Writer John Marshall, Arizona; Sports Writer Joedy McCreary, North Carolina; Sports Writer Eric Olson, Nebraska; Sports Writer Steve Megargee, Tennessee; College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo, New York.