Matt Leinart’s Heisman Hopefuls: Week 12

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Former Heisman winner Matt Leinart gives his updated list of top five Heisman candidates.

MATT LEINART: All right guys. What has me excited right now is because we're the middle of November. And I always say, most people always say the Heisman Trophy is won in this month. And there's been a couple guys in my opinion, that are just, kind of, late newcomers to this list. They're starting to make a surge at the most important part of the college football season. So that being said, we're going to start with number five. And brand new to my list, he's never seen it, but he deserves to be on here. Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson. He has been really consistent most of the season.

Been a great player, I think, because of the two losses early really, sort of, hurt his chances early on in the Heisman race. But like I said, November is the most important month and he's been balling. Last week against Georgia, then, the number one ranked team in the country ran 32 carries over 160 yards. And really controlled that football game. And if you look at Auburn as a team, and what they have coming up, they've got the Iron Bowl at home against Alabama. You talk about him going off against the Crimson Tide. They win that game, then they're in the SEC championship game. So a lot of big ifs, but a lot of opportunities for Kerryon Johnson. Keep an eye on him over the course of the next couple of weeks.

Number four, Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate. This kid is really taking college football world by storm. A couple numbers of note that I want you guys to listen to. Five in one as a starter since he's taken over. So he's winning football games for Arizona. He's completing 62% of his passes. Why that's important? His Achilles heel coming into the season when he wasn't the starter, was his accuracy and his throwing. So obviously, he's throwing the ball much better. And how about this, seventh in the country in rushing yards with 1,300. Keep in mind, he's only started six football games.

So this kid has been incredible. I don't think he's going to win the Heisman this year. But what he has done, he has set himself up as one of the front runners going into next season. Number three, Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor. You talk about a model of consistency. That's exactly what he's been all season long. And remember, he is only a true freshman. This kid is a superstar, and when it's all said and done, he will be one of the best college running backs we have seen.

Taking a look at a couple of his numbers. Third in the country in rushing yards over 1,500. Three 200 yard games, and he has positioned Wisconsin to not only get to a Big 10 championship game, but potentially a college football playoff. This week is really important on Fox against Michigan, who is a top 10 run defense. That is a great opportunity for Jonathan Taylor. Number two, Stanford running back, Bryce Love. He's back and he's towards the top because of a dominant performance last week against Washington.

It's kind down on the last couple of weeks. Remember he missed a game. He had a bye week. Stanford was struggling a little bit. But I'll tell you what last week Friday night against Washington one of the best defenses in the country. He completely dominated them. 30 carries $1.66 and three touchdowns for Stanford. I think they're playing their best football. And if Washington beats Washington State in the Apple cup, Stanford wins out. Stanford in the pact 12 championship game so. Bryce Love, like a lot of players on this list, has more opportunities to continue to make a statement. But nonetheless, he is going to be in New York for the Heisman ceremony.

And number one, shocker, Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma's quarterback. And again, I feel like I say the same thing week in and week out about him. But it's true. He has been the best player consistently every single week. Last week was that opportunity. We know he torched Oklahoma State, who struggles defensively. But how about torturing the number one defense in the Big 12 in TCU. A very respectable group. He made them look average. A couple of great numbers with Baker Mayfield.

He leads the country in average yards per completion with almost 17. That's the second highest in the last 15 years. Six to one touchdown to interception ratio. And I love this, 3 and 0 against top 12 football teams. Two of those on the road. So on the biggest stage, in the biggest moments, against the best competition. He has been the best player and delivered. And right now he is by far and away the front runner to be the next Heisman Trophy winner.