Going for it on Fourth: Heisman race beginning to heat up

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Updated: November 14, 2015
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There are only a few weeks remaining until the end of the college football season, and next month could turn out to be better than what we’ve already experienced. But there’s still a lot to be decided, including the Heisman race and playoff rankings.

 

The Heisman door has been opened

Up until last week, LSU running back Leonard Fournette’s name was already printed on the nameplate of the Heisman trophy. But after an abysmal 31-yard performance against Alabama, is he still the favorite to make the trip to New York City? No, another running back has surpassed him for now.

Derrick Henry has overtaken Fournette as the favorite after going for 210 yards against one of the best rushing defenses in the country. Henry has also scored a touchdown on the ground in all nine of his games.

But who else is in the race? Well, there’s a 5-foot-11 wide receiver who is lighting up Big 12 defenses, and his name is Corey Coleman. Coleman, like Henry, has scored in every game this season. He’s dangerous as a deep threat every time the ball is snapped, and he did not miss a beat when he lost his starting quarterback Seth Russell. True freshman Jarrett Stidham had to step in, but Baylor‘s offense kept rolling. Last week, Coleman went for 11 receptions, 216 yards and two touchdowns with Stidham under center.

Even with Fournette and TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin both having terrible performances last week, they are still in search for that illustrious bronze statue. It’s still possible either of them could win the award, but they’ll have to play lights out in their next couple of games. For now, Henry is the favorite. If he were to win, he would be the second Crimson Tide running back to ever reach such an accomplishment.

 

Who has a chance?

As we are nearing the end of this college football season, there is a common theme: Don’t change the channel until the clock hits triple zeros. Just ask Michigan, Florida State and Duke. So why would the college football rankings be any different?

It will come down to the final week and we will have more teams throw their arms up in despair because of the final outcome. But before we get to that point, let’s take a look at who I think are the top four teams going into this week and who else has a chance to make some noise.

My top four:

  1. Clemson
  2. Alabama
  3. Oklahoma State
  4. Notre Dame

Teams with a chance: Ohio State, Iowa, Baylor, Stanford, LSU, Utah, Florida and Oklahoma.

 

Upset Alert: No. 14 Michigan at Indiana

The Hoosiers are looking for their first conference win, and thinking that it will come against the Wolverines and the best defense in the nation. Crazy, right? Of course.

Indiana has one of the best offensive attacks in the country with quarterback Nate Sudfeld, running back Jordan Howard and a talented offensive line. They have one of the most balanced, fast-paced offenses in the nation, similar to what Baylor does but just not as successful.

The Hoosiers also might be playing for their coach’s job. Making it to a bowl game would be a first for head coach Kevin Wilson during his stay in Bloomington. It has been tough for Wilson in large part to the division Indiana plays in, the Big Ten East. Their last two games against Maryland and Purdue are more winnable than the one this Saturday, but they’ll improve their chances of getting to a bowl game if they defeat the Wolverines.

Michigan comes into this one with some hope they have a chance to make it to the Big Ten title game. If Ohio State beats Michigan State next week, and the Maize and Blue win out, then Jim Harbaugh will take his team to Indianapolis in his first season as head coach. Their offense will go up against one of the worst defenses, in Indiana, but they’ll have to score a lot if the Hoosiers’ offense gets rolling.

I think Indiana will get off to a hot start on senior day, and upset Michigan en route to one of the biggest wins in program history.

 

Game of the Week: No. 12 Oklahoma at No. 6 Baylor

Headlines Going in: Many believe Baylor has been disrespected in the first two playoff committee rankings, and Oklahoma might be getting hot at the right time.

To be fair, Baylor is only ranked sixth because they haven’t played anyone. They have their chance to improve their ranking starting this weekend, and they will continue to go with freshman quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who is filling in for the injured Seth Russell. Stidham impressed in his first start, throwing three touchdown passes, including two to Heisman candidate wide receiver Corey Coleman.

Since the loss in the Cotton Bowl to Texas, the Sooners have scored over 50 points in four straight games. And they aren’t just doing it on offense, but on defense as well. Over the last four games, they’ve given up less than 13 points per contest.

What it will come down to: Which defense can make a stop with two high-powered offenses taking the field this weekend? Even though most of the defenses in the Big 12 are a joke, and can’t stop anyone, these two are the best in the conference. The Sooners are little better defensively, but Baylor has improved from past seasons.

Oklahoma’s defense has been putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks a lot this season, and is second in the country in sacks with 34. Eric Striker and Dominique Alexander are the leaders on the Sooners’ defense. Striker has 11.5 tackles for a loss and seven sacks on the season, while Alexander leads the team with 76 tackles.

Stidham and his offensive line will need to make sure they are prepared for Mark Stoops’ defense. I think the Sooners will get more stops in this one, and they’ll be in the driver seat of the Big 12 after Saturday.

Prediction: Oklahoma 45, Baylor 42

Brice Vance

Brice Vance

Brice is a college football writer for Sideline Sports Report. He's from Fort Wayne, IN, and a current Journalism student at IPFW. His favorite sports teams are the Notre Dame Fighting Irish-NCAAF, Indiana Hoosiers-NCAAB, Chicago Cubs-MLB and Green Bay Packers-NFL.

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