Photo Credit: FOX Sports (featured image), CBS Sports (team logos)
15. Sam Darnold, Quarterback, #12 Southern California Trojans (8-3)
- Statistics: 194/284 (68.3% completion percentage), 2,428 passing yards, 24 passing touchdowns, 8 interceptions, 54 rush attempts, 214 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns
- Analysis: Ever since not getting a lot of playing time and taking over quarterback Max Browne’s role as the USC starting quarterback in week 4, Darnold has played lights out and has led the Trojans on a 7-game winning streak with a small but possibly chance at getting into the College Football Playoff even with three losses. Had he played the whole season, he may be higher on this list. However, in the time he has played, he has been one of the best quarterbacks in the country, and that is why he deserves a spot on this list.
14. Luke Falk, Quarterback, #23 Washington State Cougars (8-3)
- Statistics: 380/532 (71.4% completion percentage), 3,935 passing yards, 36 passing touchdowns, 7 interceptions, 53 rush attempts, -52 rushing yards
- Analysis: Luke Falk may very well be the best passing quarterback in the nation. He is 3rd in the nation in passing yards and is tied for the NCAA lead with a 71.4% completion percentage. His 36 passing touchdowns rank 3rd in the country. His inability to run the football effectively and the fact that he is really only a passing quarterback are what keep Falk from being much higher up on this list as a Heisman Trophy award candidate like some other more versatile quarterbacks are.
13. Jonathan Allen, Defensive End, #1 Alabama Crimson Tide (11-0)
- Statistics: 23 solo tackles, 23 assisted tackles, 46 total tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, 1 interception, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 touchdowns, 2 passes defensed
- Analysis: Jonathan Allen is the best defensive lineman in the country. His ability to get to the quarterback and make a difference in the play of opposing offenses on pretty much every snap is what sets him apart from the average defensive lineman and it is what makes him the undisputed leader of the Alabama defense, a defense that has allowed over two touchdowns in a game just twice this season in 11 games. The impact he has on opposing teams puts him in the Heisman Trophy award discussion.
12. Dede Westbrook, Wide Receiver, #8 Oklahoma Sooners (9-2)
- Statistics: 70 receptions, 1,354 receiving yards, 15 receiving touchdowns, 7 rush attempts, 84 rushing yards, 4 punt returns, 79 punt return yards, 1 punt return touchdown, 8 kickoff returns, 227 kickoff return yards
- Analysis: Dede Westbrook has become the go-to wide receiver for Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, and for all the right reasons. Westbrook may very well be the most explosive wide receiver in the nation, and his recent play gives us no reason to believe otherwise. He is 2nd in the nation in receiving yards and leads the nation in yards per reception among players with over 56 catches. He is also tied for 3rd in the nation in receiving touchdowns. Westbrook is the real deal at the wide receiver position, and as such he is a candidate for the Heisman Trophy award.
11. Christian McCaffrey, Running Back, #24 Stanford Cardinal (8-3)
- Statistics: 223 rush attempts, 1,399 rushing yards, 12 rushing touchdowns, 35 receptions, 287 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns, 7 punt returns, 52 punt return yards, 14 kickoff returns, 318 kickoff return yards
- Analysis: Based on his super high expectations coming off of an impressive 2015 season during which he broke the all-purpose yards record or a single season record, McCaffrey’s season thus far has been an underachievement. Nonetheless, despite missing a game with an injury, he has still put up rushing, receiving, and returning numbers that are well above average for any running back and enough to put him in the Heisman Trophy award discussion for the 2nd consecutive season.