SEC Heisman Watch: Week 11 aftermath
We’re now 11 weeks into the college football season, and the nation’s pool of candidates for the Heisman Trophy has thinned considerably as we enter the final two weeks before conference championship play begins.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t still time for significant change.
Just a few short weeks ago, most SEC fans would have bet their mortgage that LSU RB Leonard Fournette was on his way to accepting the Heisman Trophy in December.
Two Tigers losses later, the talented sophomore is no longer considered the best candidate from his own conference, let alone the national favorite.
Let’s take a look at the body of work each has put together during the first two-plus months of the season, and consider what lies ahead for each of them during Week 12:
THE NEW FRONT-RUNNER
RB Derrick Henry, Alabama
2015 stats: 240 carries, 1,458 rushing yards, 19 rushing touchdowns; nine receptions for 69 receiving yards in 10 games.
Remaining schedule: vs. Charleston Southern, at Auburn
Week 12 outlook: Following two consecutive 200-plus yard rushing performances, Henry has gone from Heisman darkhorse to Heisman front-runner in the matter of two weeks. With a “gimme game” against FCS opponent Charleston Southern on the docket for Week 12, it will be interesting to monitor Henry’s usage. Thanks to an injury to fellow RB Kenyan Drake, the Crimson Tide doesn’t have the luxury of its top backup. At the same time, that exposes Alabama to a catastrophic loss if Henry were to be injured if left in this game for too long.
THE FORMER FRONT-RUNNER
RB Leonard Fournette, LSU
2015 stats: 214 carries for 1,474 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns; 10 catches for 94 yards in nine games.
Remaining schedule: at Ole Miss, vs. Texas A&M
Week 12 outlook: While he still holds a slight lead on Derrick Henry in rushing yards in spite of playing one less game, it is clear that Fournette must make up ground in the eyes of the public and voters after failing to get to 100 yards rushing in back-to-back games, which both finished in LSU losses. While Henry may draw a short day against Charleston Southern, LSU will need another full effort from Fournette if the Tigers are going to kick the losing streak on the road at Ole Miss. A massive game against the Rebels would be a good start to his “Heisman comeback.”
THE CANDIDACY THAT DIED ON SATURDAY
QB Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
2015 stats: 222 of 343 passing for 2,651 yards and 18 touchdowns, two interceptions; 112 carries for 432 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns in 10 games.
Remaining schedule: at Arkansas, vs. Ole Miss
Week 12 outlook: Beating Alabama was Prescott’s last big chance, so the 31-6 loss was not the outcome “Prescott for Heisman” fans were hoping to see. He threw for 300 yards in the loss, but was sacked nine times and never really given a fair shot to make plays thanks to a swarming Crimson Tide defense. He’ll get a chance to put some stats up in Week 12 against an Arkansas defense that allowed a career day from Chad Kelly just a couple of weeks ago, but the moment to capture the viewer’s eyes and hearts has likely passed for the Mississippi State legend.
INJURED, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
RB Nick Chubb, Georgia
2015 stats: 92 carries for 747 yards and seven rushing touchdowns; four catches for 32 yards and a touchdown.
2015 summary: Chubb, who was considered one of the league’s top Heisman candidates in the preseason and through the early portion of the season, suffered a season-ending knee injury at Tennessee on Oct. 10. He was on pace to potentially have an opportunity to make a trip to New York as one of the Heisman finalists. Chubb finished the season with an average of 8.1 yards per carry, and averaged scoring a touchdown once every 12 touches.
On the outside looking in: Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett; Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly; Tennessee RB Jalen Hurd; Texas A&M WR Christian Kirk; Ole Miss DL Robert Nkemdiche; Arkansas RB Alex Collins; Auburn RB Peyton Barber; Missouri LB Kentrell Brothers; Ole Miss WR Laquon Treadwell.