To no surprise, the Halfway Heisman is a runaway, with Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa in position to challenge for all-time voting records if he and the nation's unquestioned No. 1 team don't take a detour over the next two months.
With Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins, West Virginia's Will Grier and Oklahoma's Kyler Murray among the few current logical challengers to Tagovailoa's throne, is there another star on a College Football Playoff contender who could make some noise?
For your consideration: Clemson's Travis Etienne.
This year's title contenders have distanced themselves in the forms of Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Georgia and the fourth-ranked Tigers. The Crimson Tide has Tagovailoa, the Buckeyes boast Haskins, but they're the only legitimate threats from that group.
Quarterback Ian Book has taken the Fighting Irish offense to new heights, but his two missed games severely hurts his case, and Georgia as of right now has two candidates in running back D'Andre Swift and QB Jake Fromm, which really means it doesn't have a true challenger.
Which brings us to the other CFB front-runner, Clemson.
Freshman QB Trevor Lawrence had the potential to emerge as the Tigers' top candidate with Dabo Swinney moving on from Kelly Bryant, but when Lawrence went down vs. Syracuse, it was Etienne who rattled off 203 yards and three touchdowns. That was part of a run of four games in which he's averaged 163.5 yards to shoot up to fourth in FBS at 761 on the season.
That puts Etienne on pace for 1,648 yards, which would be a school record, torching the 1,527 that Wayne Gallman put up in 2015, and ought to be enough to push him into the forefront as the Tigers' top challenger over a true freshman. But is it enough to get him to New York?
Beginning with 2009, when Alabama's Mark Ingram won over fellow RB Toby Gehart of Stanford, the last nine backs invited to the ceremony had 1,834 yards at the time of the announcement. That's pumped up by 2,336 yards by Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon in 2014 and Boston College's Andre Williams going for 2,102 in '13, and Etienne is still on track for more yards than Ingram (1,542), Auburn's Tre Mason (1,621 in '13) and Alabama's Trent Richardson (1,583 in '11).
The schedule includes three opponents who are 84th or higher vs. the rush -- that would be Boston College (84th at 175.5 yards per game), South Carolina (99th at 194 ypg) and Louisville (118th at 231 ypg) -- which could lead to monster days over the final month of the season for the RB. But before he has any chance to potentially pads his stats, Etienne gets what on paper could be a two-week stretch that solidifies his candidacy with No. 20 NC State on Oct. 20 and a trip to Florida State a week later.
The Wolfpack, 15th vs. the rush (107.4), haven't allowed a single back to get over 90 yards on the season. Granted, they avoided facing Boston College's AJ Dillon, who missed last week's game with an ankle injury, but it remains a stout group.
So, too, are the Seminoles -- at least statistically-speaking. While they're ninth in FBS in yielding a paltry 101.2 per, the reality is that jumps up to 137.7 ypg in four ACC games, including a whopping 222 by Syracuse on Sept. 15. Etienne could own a game that, despite Florida State's record, remains one the conference's defining rivalry.
Even with the schedule getting a bump from meeting No. 16 Miami in the ACC title game, and a yardage total that wouldn't be far off from recent RBs to earn a spot in the ceremony, it's a daunting task without chaos intervening.
But Clemson's position as a clear-cut CFB favorite figures to get Etienne attention to get himself into the mix among those candidates behind Tagovailoa and Haskins as the second half of the season rolls on.
Before we look at the players who are rising and falling, here's a look at the Forecaster's virtual ballot.
1. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama QB 2. Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State QB 3. Kyler Murray, Oklahoma QB
Jeremy BrevardJeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
ON THE RISE: Laviska Shenault, Colorado WR
Shenault wasn't the Pac-12's top contender back in August. In fact, he's probably not the conference's most logical candidate now, considering what Justin Herbert is doing at Oregon. But nonetheless, Shenault is an intriguing case as he's on pace for 132 receptions, 1,840 yards and 15 TDs. That would be the second-most receptions and yardage in history among Power-5 programs -- second only to Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree with 134 catches and 1,962 yards in 2007 -- and more catches and yardage than any receiver who has reached the ceremony. Shenault is poised to help his case Saturday against USC and its 52nd-rated pass defense, which is allowing 218 yards per game.
Ron ChenoyRon Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
ON THE RISE: Jake Fromm, Georgia QB
As mentioned above, Swift is right there with Fromm in terms of the Bulldogs' contenders, which hurts the actual viability of either becoming a major factor in this race. Fromm is coming off his best game of the season in terms of yardage (276) in the Bulldogs' rout of Vanderbilt, and is now sitting fourth in FBS with a 192.5 rating. After Florida ran for 215 yards against LSU in last Saturday's upset, Swift may be the logical play here, but Fromm is trending in the right direction and he's never beaten a top-15 team on the road. Do that in taking down the 13th-ranked Tigers and the sophomore QB's stock will rise.
Dale ZanineDale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
ON THE RISE: Sam Ehlinger, Texas QB
Ehlinger was sensational in the Longhorns' upset of Oklahoma in the Red River Showdown, throwing for 314 yards and two TDs, running for another 72 yards and three scores and hauling in one reception for eight yards. This week should provide a respite in the form of Baylor, which is 90th in total defense (411 ypg), 95th in pass efficiency D (141.3) and 96th in points allowed (32.3 ppg). Murray remains the Big 12's top contender, with Grier behind him but there's no denying Ehlinger is worth a look with the Longhorns one of just two teams undefeated in Big 12 play.
Tim HeitmanTim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
FALL GUYS: Will Grier, West Virginia QB
Grier remains a factor on an undefeated team, but tossing three red-zone interceptions and committing four turnovers in the Mountaineers' closer-than-expected win over Kansas last week hurts. He's still second in the nation in passing yards per game at 371.8 and only two players -- Hawaii's Cole McDonald with 24 and Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins at 19 -- have thrown more TD passes than Grier's 17. With all things Mountaineers, everything is about that November closing stretch of No. 9 Texas, TCU, Oklahoma State and No. 11 Oklahoma. Getting there without a loss and without Grier having a major setback game is the key to his candidacy.
Ben QueenBen Queen-USA TODAY Sports
FALL GUYS: Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin RB
Leading the nation with 169.8 yards per game and sitting third with 849 yards overall, Taylor has faced just one rush defense that's currently ranked higher than 70th in FBS. That would be fifth-rated Iowa's rush defense, which "held" him to 113 yards and kept him out of the end zone. Beyond that, the Badgers star has seen rush Ds rated 70th (Western Kentucky), 72nd (BYU), New Mexico (91st) and Nebraska (109th). Michigan, which is No. 1 overall in total defense (232.6 ypg) and sixth vs. the run (96.5) hasn't allowed a single back more than the 65 yards it allowed to Western Michigan's Levante Bellamy. The Badgers haven't won in Ann Arbor since 2010, and here's expecting the Wolverines rush defense to be a big reason why it doesn't happen again this season.
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FALL GUYS: Justin Herbert, Oregon QB
A 17th-rated pass defense in Washington that's yielding just 174.7 ypg and has allowed the third-fewest points of any FBS defense at 13.7 ppg will be the biggest test of the season for the Ducks QB. The Huskies secondary has yielded the fewest touchdowns over the past 19 games with 13, including just one vs. Auburn's Jarrett Stidham in the season opener in Atlanta.