News & Analysis

PFF College Football Heisman Watch after Week 11

After Week 11 in college football, we take another look at who's in line for the Heisman in our weekly Heisman Watch.

1. Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

Last Week: 2nd

No other player in America comes close to the resume of Burrow this season and it would take a monumental collapse for him to fall out of first place in this race. Considering his closest opponents are the quarterback he just beat and a defensive end who is suspended, this race is all but settled midway through November. In his most recent out against Alabama, Burrow put on a passing clinic, completing 31-of-39 passes for 393 yards and three scores as well as 16 other first-down conversions with both his arm and his legs. He lit up the field against the most NFL-ready secondary he's faced and that's saying something as he now holds four wins over top-10 opponents in Texas, Florida, Auburn and Alabama. For the season, Burrow remains the highest-graded passer on throws targeted at least 10 yards downfield, connecting on 83 of 118 attempts for 1,933 yards, 24 touchdowns and just four interceptions. He has 24 big-time throws on such attempts and averages 16.4 yards per attempt with the nation's best 70.3% completion percentage.

2. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

Last Week: 3rd

Sure, Tua likely has no shot at the Heisman Trophy at this point but let's face it, no one other than Joe Burrow really does. If anyone else has the chance and the ability to rattle off some big-time performances in the back half of November, it's Tagovailoa and that date with Auburn in the Iron Bowl. While he struggled under pressure against LSU this past weekend, Tagovailoa still diced the LSU defense with NFL-ready cornerbacks and safeties to the tune of 415 yards and four scores, hitting multiple ‘wow' throws that kept the Crimson Tide in the game. His fumble near the goalline was bad as was his first clean-pocket interception of the season but at this rate, with a healthy ankle and two favorable matchups until Auburn, Tua will need more than some luck to get the Heisman but he's all but guaranteed himself a trip to New York for the second consecutive season.

3. Ceedee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

Last Week: 10th

While the dust settled on the LSU-Alabama game, Lamb went out against a tough Iowa State defense and hauled in eight receptions for 165 yards, two scores and three more first downs. He broke four tackles and now is fourth in the country with 18 missed tackles after the catch. He's a true threat with the ball in his hands, averaging 22.3 yards per catch that include 11.8 yards after the catch per reception, the latter ranking fifth in the country as he's reached 521 yards after the catch in total this year (sixth). With a marquee matchup on the schedule against Baylor and then two tough outings against TCU and Oklahoma State still remaining on the schedule, Lamb has enough challenges in front of him to not only get to New York but to grab a few first-place votes away from his quarterback.

4. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Last Week: 4th

Even Gus Johnson couldn't make the Ohio State game fun for viewers after awhile against Maryland as the Buckeyes rested their starters after halftime. Fields completed 16 passes for 200 yards and three scores but was unsuccessful by a large degree on throws downfield, compared to his previous success in 2019. He's still the nation's third-highest-graded passer on throws targeted at least 10 yards downfield, completing 58 of 98 attempts for 20 touchdowns against one interception as he's been more reliant upon his arm and air yards than he has his receivers after the catch, much different than OSU quarterbacks before him. His last two games loom large on how he'll fare not only in the Big Ten but in the Heisman race as he'll certainly be tested for likely the entire game against Penn State and Michigan in consecutive weeks to close out the year. If he can keep up what we've seen from him in the past this year, he'll get to New York but he'll need dominant performances to topple Burrow from the Trophy.

5. Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State

Last Week: 5th

Hubbard and the Cowboys were off in Week 11 after back-to-back victories (both by the same score, 34-27) over Iowa State and TCU. With the bye week in hand, Hubbard still holds a 140-yard margin over AJ Dillon for the rushing crown and is all but assured to hit the 2,000-yard plateau in the next two weeks. He's ripped off the national-leading figures in a bevy of categories including not only the raw stats but also in rushing grade among FBS running backs with at least 50 carries. In total, he has more yards after contact than all but 11 other running backs have total rushing yards this season, gaining 1,014 rushing yards after first contact with a defender. He's broken 58 tackles and the Cowboys season will go as Hubbard goes and that's looking like it's going to go towards a rushing crown and a Doak Walker Award at season's end.

6. J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State

Last Week: 7th

Dobbins has quietly reached 1,200 rushing yards by averaging 7.2 yards per carry, 4.44 yards after contact per attempt and breaking 39 tackles. He's a stiff-arm machine who doesn't go down on first contact often while his vision and elite athleticism grant him the ability to make cuts and see holes that aren't even there yet. Dobbins is as talented as they come but if we're talking about individual awards, he gets outdueled by his quarterback in importance to the team, therefore, likely falling just behind Fields in the race towards the Heisman. Still, with some top-notch performances through their tough final three games (including what is likely a Big Ten Championship appearance), Dobbins can press for the Doak Walker Award as well as potentially eat into Hubbard's spot on this list here.

7. Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma

Last Week: 6th

Hurts did not have a great performance against Iowa State, putting forth his lowest-graded outing of the season. Still, his ability to rebound from his previous low from a game grade standpoint (previous low: Texas) should be something to strike fear into the Baylor Bears in Week 12. Hurts followed up his previous season-low game grade with the highest-graded performance by a quarterback we've seen all year long, finishing the West Virginia game with record numbers. He has 24 touchdowns this season against four interceptions as he's surpassed his touchdown totals from his previous best year at Alabama already and is just a few yards away from topping his career-best passing yardage in a season at Alabama as well. With Burrow's dominance at the top, if Hurts wants a chance at the Heisman, he'll need more dominant dual-threat performances to get himself back into the national spotlight. A big game against Baylor should vault him back up but a misstep like that against Iowa State will likely end any chance.

8. Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

Last Week: 7th

The Ducks were off in Week 11 and as such, we get to look ahead at the remaining schedule for Herbert and Oregon in 2019. They have three very winnable games on their schedule and all signs are pointing towards an Oregon-Utah meeting in the Pac-12 title game. For Herbert to get the invite to New York, he'll certainly need to put up more performances like he did against Colorado or Washington where he threw for multiple touchdowns and limited mistakes in victory. Still, the Auburn game looks more like an anomaly for Herbert who has rebounded to even bigger heights than he saw in 2017, his previous career-best and you can bet the contingency that is would love to have a kid from out west make it to the Big Apple in December. Herbert is certainly more deserving than anyone else at this stage.

9. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

Last Week: 11th

We said it a few weeks back but don't look now, the Clemson Tigers offense is rolling. After a tough stretch to start the season, Lawrence is actually the second-highest-graded quarterback from Week 4 on as he's hit 111 of 157 passes for 1,479 yards and 18 touchdowns against just three interceptions over that time. He has put forth two elite-level performances in consecutive outings and the game-that-was between Clemson and Wake Forest now looks more and more like a minor speed bump on their road to the ACC Championship and College Football Playoff. Lawrence likely can't win the Heisman because of his early-season struggles but you can bet he'll likely be a betting favorite for next year's award, again.

10. Zack Moss, RB, Utah

Last Week: 10th

No running back is forcing missed tackles at a higher rate than Moss as he's breaking tackles on 45% of his carries and he's currently set to break the PFF College record for missed tackles forced per attempt in a given season. He's broken 57 tackles on 137 carries and racked up 667 yards after contact. He is an efficient runner who's churned out 6.0 yards per carry despite the opposing defense certainly knowing the Utah offense runs through him and he's gained 11 touchdowns and 32 additional first-down carries. If he keeps up this historic pace in terms of breaking tackles, you can expect to hear his name in contention for the Walker award but also as a potential strong running back at the next level.

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