Heisman Watch: Week Five

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Conference play is finally underway, and so are the upsets. In a weekend full of head-scratching performances on either end of the spectrum, individual performance was emphasized, and Week Four provided Heisman candidates an opportunity to shine as the road to New York gets clearer day by day.

Saquon Barkley

Penn State running back

Barkley established himself as the Heisman front-runner this weekend, leaping over defenders and helping Penn State to a buzzer-beating 21-19 victory against Iowa.

His game was further magnified by the big plays down the stretch — the jukes, spin moves, and absolute power Barkley displayed throughout the game not only proved why he is the best running back in the country, but also the best overall player in America. The junior back turned in the best all around performance of the weekend, drastically improving his Heisman odds.

The Nittany Lions will host Indiana this weekend as conference play in the Big 10 continues. Expect Barkley and his partner in crime junior quarterback Trace McSorley to have solid days at the office against an Indiana defense that allows almost 200 yards per game.

Baker Mayfield

Oklahoma quarterback

Oklahoma’s first trip south of the Red River was a narrow success, as the No. 3 Sooners escaped Baylor with a 49-41 victory to keep their perfect record intact.

Mayfield had a rather quiet night for his standards, throwing for 283 yards and three touchdowns. Although the redshirt senior didn’t seem to struggle against the Bear defense, a run heavy offense in the second half reduced his individual production.

Mayfield and the Sooners will have the week off before hosting Iowa State in Norman, Oklahoma on Oct. 7. 

Sam Darnold

USC quarterback

After leading the No. 5 Trojans to a thrilling come-from-behind double overtime win against Texas in Week Three, Darnold found himself in a similar situation heading to the fourth quarter against a competitive California team last weekend.

The redshirt sophomore brought the Trojans back from an early deficit and led a fourth quarter charge to seal the 30-20 win. 

USC will play at No. 16 Washington State this weekend in what will prove to be yet another test to prove that USC is a proven playoff contender. Darnold should be challenged by a tough Cougar secondary which only allows 142 passing yards per game.

Lamar Jackson

Louisville quarterback

After falling flat against Clemson, Jackson and the Cardinals have not had the same offensive production they saw in their first two games. Jackson threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns and added another 34 yards and a rushing touchdown on the ground in a 42-3 blowout win over Kent State last weekend.

While 330 yards of total offense would be considered impressive for any other player in the country, this output for Jackson’s standards is slightly under par. On top of that, two interceptions continued to hurt his cause.

Jackson will have a chance to right the ship as the Cardinals host Murray State this weekend in what could be a bounce-back game for the sophomore quarterback.