AP HEISMAN WATCH: Jackson leads; race for 2nd is crowded


By Ralph D. Russo - AP College Football Writer



Even if Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson wins the Heisman Trophy in a landslide vote, there may still be a slew of finalists at the award presentation in New York on Dec. 10.

There are always at least three finalists for the trophy. Whether there are more is determined by point totals and the gap between vote-getters.

Jackson is on his way to a Heisman runaway. Online casino Bovada listed him at 1-to-20 to win the award. Next up were Michigan linebacker Jabrill Peppers and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson at 12-to-1.

While only a meltdown from the spectacular sophomore over his last three games could bring Jackson back to the pack, there is potential for movement behind him and for the second- and third-place votes to be spread among a handful of contenders.

The AP’s Heisman panel is still mostly focused on two other quarterbacks behind Jackson: Washington’s Jake Browning and Watson. Texas running back D’Onta Foreman is surging and the latest dominant performance by the Alabama defense helped Jonathan Allen’s case.

Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville (21 points)

Number of note: Jackson has 26 touchdown passes and 19 touchdowns scored, leaving him one short of becoming the seventh member of the FBS 20-20 club. Of the previous six players to have 20 TD passes and 20 touchdowns scored in the same season, three won the Heisman (Tim Tebow, 2007; Cam Newton, 2010; Johnny Manziel, 2012).

Next: Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons have been OK defensively, ranking sixth in the ACC in yards per play (5.27).

Jake Browning, QB, Washington (10 points)

Number of note: Among quarterbacks with at least 200 passing attempts, none has thrown a higher percentage for touchdowns than Browning at 15.5.

Next: USC. The Trojans have the fifth-best pass defense in the Pac-12, allowing 6.6 yards per attempt.

Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson (8 points)

Number of note: In the last five games, Watson is 114 of 167 (68.3 percent) for 1,501 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Next: Pittsburgh. The Panthers have the worst pass defense in the ACC, allowing 8.5 yards per pass.

Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama (2 points)

Number of note: Allen has scored two of Alabama’s 10 defensive touchdowns.

Next: Mississippi State. The Bulldogs have the seventh-best offense in the SEC at 5.97 yards per play.

D’Onta Foreman, RB, Texas (1 point)

Number of note: Foreman has rushed for 591 yards in his last two games, the second-best two game stretch in school history to Rick Williams’ 668 in 1998 — when he won the Heisman.

Next: No. 11 West Virginia. The Mountaineers have the fourth-best rushing defense in the Big 12 at 4.04 yard allowed per attempt.

Others to watch

— Jabrill Peppers, LB, Michigan. If Peppers goes off against Ohio State in on Thanksgiving weekend, he’ll get an invite.

— Donnel Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State. Slipped to second in the nation in rushing behind Foreman after he had a relatively quiet game (112 yards on 21 carries) in a 55-0 blowout of Hawaii.

— Kamryn Pettway, RB, Auburn. A long shot for sure, but he is up to fourth in the nation in rushing at 138.25 yards per game. And he still has to play Alabama.

— Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma. Has six consecutive 100-yard receiving games and is averaging 19.4 yards per touch.

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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.

By Ralph D. Russo

AP College Football Writer