Lamar Jackson, Louisville quarterback
- 2016: 3,109 passing yards, 1,367 rushing yards, 47 total touchdowns
Louisville lost 36-10 to Houston on ESPN’s main network as a stand-alone game Thursday night. There was been abundant coverage of Jackson’s worst performance of the season, but the sophomore still threw for 211 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions.
Jackson has played at such an extraordinary level this season that his Heisman-campaign can afford one bad loss. His rushing was inhibited against the Cougars due to a porous offensive line that yielded 11 sacks.
But the dual-threat quarterback still ranks in the top-10 of passing touchdowns, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns, guiding Louisville to an impressive 9-2 record in the process. Jackson’s Cardinals are likely eliminated from the playoff, but the quarterback can rebound Saturday against Kentucky.
- Jonathan Allen, Alabama defensive end
- 2016: 46 tackles, 7 sacks, 2 touchdowns
It may have been an FCS opponent, but Alabama’s defense still continued its dominant ways in a 31-3 victory over Chattanooga.
Allen starred from the defensive end position with six tackles in the victory, guiding the Crimson Tide to its sixth-total (and third-consecutive) game without allowing a touchdown this season.
The senior is the star of the top team in the nation, scoring touchdowns off of an interception and a fumble recovery. He has threaded offensive lines, pressured quarterbacks consistently and barricaded running backs on a defense that only gives up 68.9 rushing yards per game — the next closest is Houston’s 93.5.
- Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma quarterback
- 2016: 3,381 passing yards, 35 touchdowns, 71.4 completion percentage
Entering the season with playoff experience made Mayfield a common prediction for the Heisman winner. A dismal 1-2 start quickly deterred his campaign, but the junior has redeemed himself and his Sooners with an eight-game winning streak.
The 2015 fourth-place finisher is now seventh in the FBS in passing yards and tied for third in touchdowns. Mayfield’s passer rating leads all college football quarterbacks and he has situated the Sooners in position for a Big 12 title. The gunslinger has thrown for 300 yards on six occasions, including a career-best 545 in a 66-59 victory over Texas Tech earlier in the year.
If chaos ensues in the final week and Oklahoma wins Bedlam, Mayfield can earn a second opportunity to demonstrate his talents in the playoff.
- Zach Terrell, Western Michigan quarterback
- 2016: 2,890 passing yards, 27 touchdowns, 71.3 completion percentage
Terrell’s accomplishments have often gone unnoticed, as he plays in a non-Power Five conference. But the senior and four-year starter has positioned his team to play in the Cotton Bowl, transforming the program from 1-11 to 11-0 in three seasons elapsed.
Terrell possesses the third-highest passer rating in the nation and owns an impeccable touchdown-to-interception ratio of 27-to-1. His accuracy has been on full display, completing an FBS third-best 71.3 percent of throws.
Last week, Terrell’s Broncos were featured on ESPN’s “College GameDay” and the quarterback delivered in the spotlight with 445 yards and four touchdowns in a 39-0 shutout victory. But most importantly, he is the star of one of two undefeated teams in the country.