News & Analysis

PFF College Football Heisman Watch after Week 9

After Week 9 in college football, we take another look at who's in line for the Heisman in our weekly Heisman Watch.

1. Edge Chase Young, Ohio State

Last Week: 3rd

Young makes his debut at No. 1 but not his debut on our Heisman list as he's reached at high as No. 2 and been on our Heisman radar for six weeks now after making his debut after Week 3. The new leader in the clubhouse put forth yet another dominant game against Wisconsin in Week 9 except this game was a bit different. He finished with the highest grade we've ever given to an edge defender at the college level in a single game at least 25 snaps. He's crushing records on a game-by-game basis and putting forth the best season we've ever seen from a player on either side of the ball in our time of grading football at any level. Young is winning over 32% of his pass-rushing snaps this season and is on pace to not only break that record but our single-season grade mark for overall and pass-rushing. He is special and deserves all the recognition the national media can give him.

2. QB Joe Burrow, LSU

Last Week: 1st

Burrow earns yet another hard-fought victory against one of the toughest defenses in the country after he's now beat Florida and Auburn as well as possessing a dominant game against Texas in Austin. His Heisman resume is likely the best in the country to date with those aforementioned games as he has finished every game this year with a completion percentage of at least 71.1% and thrown for 293 yards or more in every contest. His Auburn performance was the first of the 2019 season that he hasn't thrown multiple touchdowns but he was still sharp across all throws and to every level of the field as he has a week off before essentially a Heisman Trophy Elimination game between him and Tua Tagovailoa when LSU takes on Alabama in Week 11.

3. QB Justin Fields, Ohio State

Last Week: 4th

The Buckeyes dismantled the Wisconsin Badgers, thanks in part to their trio of Heisman candidates and Fields is certainly making his case. Against Wisconsin and the rain, Fields completed 12 passes for 167 yards and two scores, as the weather clearly had an effect on the contest. Still, Fields has thrown 24 touchdowns against just one interception this year and is averaging 8.8 yards per attempt and a passer rating of 133.0. His 91.9 overall grade just behind Burrow's as we're seeing a brilliant quarterback battle not only for the Heisman but for the highest-graded player at the position this year. Fields is more than deserving of his spot here and as the top dual-threat quarterback in the country as well. If he's in the latter conversation, he has the distinct advantage of being the best downfield thrower of any dual-threat quarterback in the country, by a long shot, as he's actually the highest-graded quarterback on throws to the intermediate range (10-19 yards) of the field.

4. QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama

Last Week: 5th

A bye week for Tua gave way to a bye week for the Crimson Tide as Tagovailoa was sidelined rehabbing an ankle injury while his team took on, and defeated, Arkansas easily. Tagovailoa is the seventh highest-graded quarterback to date and has thrown 27 touchdowns against just two picks and is one of 10 quarterbacks with an elite passing grade this year. He has taken a step back in terms of average depth of target but he's found his skilled receivers in wide-open lanes with ease to allow them to take throws the distance but has shown he can make those tight-window throws with ease that we've become accustomed to. The stage is set for arguably the biggest game in regular-season college football history when he and Burrow battle it out in Week 11.

5. RB Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State

Last Week: 6th

Hubbard will need some help to get to New York and have a shot at winning the trophy at this stage but a big win against a big favorite while he powered his offense will certainly help his case. Jonathan Taylor's fall with his team also helps but Hubbard has more than done enough to be deserving of his own. He has a large advantage not only in total yards but also yards after contact this season among the rest of the nation's running backs and he doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon. He's averaging 6.4 yards per carry and has 32 runs of at least 10 yards as well as 64 rushing conversions, both latter points leading the county's running backs.

6. QB Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma

Last Week: 2nd

A loss to Kansas State hurts for the time being but his body of work to date is still remarkable in Norman. Hurts is leading the country by averaging 13.7 yards per attempt through the air and is first among non-option quarterbacks in rushing yards with 827. He's earned 487 yards on designed carries and another 340 on scrambles, both leading non-option quarterbacks. While the game against KSU likely put their playoff chances and Hurts' Heisman candidacy at risk, he still has put forth elite game grades in five of their eight games this year and is the owner of the highest game grade for a quarterback this season so his resume is still as good as anyone else's if he keeps it up through the last four games on the schedule.

7. QB Justin Herbert, Oregon

Last Week: 7th

All Herbert has done is led two come-from-behind victories with game-winning drives in consecutive weeks and limit himself to just one interception with 21 touchdowns to his credit in 2019. He's quietly reaching his 2017 level of play that saw him among the best in the sport while averaging 7.9 yards per attempt and hitting plenty of big-time throws downfield. His receivers are still having an issue with drops so while he's completed just 67.3% of his passes in the general box score, his 76.4% adjusted completion percentage showcases just how much more accurate he has been since a season ago. He's every bit of a top-level quarterback in 2019 and the world needs to pay more attention.

8. RB J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State

Last Week: 8th

Dobbins outdueled his counterpart on Saturday and is now rising not only in the Heisman race but in the overall top-graded running back discussion this season. He's second nationally in total rushing yards and second nationally among qualified running backs by averaging 7.2 yards per carry. He has gained a whopping 690 yards after contact, ripping off 4.48 yards after contact per attempt this year. With only one fumble to his credit, Dobbins will have a few more impressive Big Ten defenses to run on and if his previous success is any indication, he'll add to his Heisman resume easily.

9. WR Justin Jefferson, LSU

Last Week: n/r

Leading the country with 23 explosive plays of at least 15 yards, Jefferson is every bit of a true No. 1 WR in college football, on the same roster as two other potential No. 1 WRs for any other team that isn't named Alabama. Jefferson has 38 receiving conversions of a first down (29) or a touchdown (9) as he's efficiently moved the sticks more often than not and scored some impressive touchdowns. He's got a full route tree that he runs with relative ease and impressive catch radius as he's hauled in 100% of the contested targets thrown his way in 2019, obviously leading the country in that regard as he couldn't do any better in contested situations than he is right now.

10. RB Zack Moss, Utah

Last Week: n/r

The nation's leader in missed tackle forced percentage, Moss is breaking a tackle on 45% of his carries — by far the highest average in the country, and a PFF record currently. He's averaging 5.31 yards after contact per attempt and has broken 49 tackles, the former leading the nation's qualified running backs. He's a talented guy through contact who can just as soon run around you and has 37 rushing conversions on his 110 carries. It's likely he and his quarterback deserve a spot on this list but for now, Moss is the guy who makes the Utes offense run and earns the last spot on our top 10 as such.

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