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1. De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
Last Week: 97 all-purpose yards in win vs. Arizona
Outlook: After a sluggish start, the Ducks exploded for 36 second-half points to rout Arizona to a 45-0 shutout. It was arguably the most impressive team performance of the day. Individually, however, Thomas had a lackluster 97-yard game and failed to find the end zone. Oregon’s national championship status keeps Thomas on top, but the cushion is closing.
2. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Last Week: 338 passing yards & 3 TDs in win vs. Maryland
Outlook: You couldn’t ask for a better start from Smith. He’s thrown 12 touchdown passes in three games and is averaging 357 passing yards per game. The Mountaineers host Baylor next week in their Big 12 opener. However, it’s the game in two weeks at Austin that will give Smith his first crack at making national headlines.
3. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
Last Week: 250 passing yards & 2 TDs in win vs. Vanderbilt
Outlook: Saturday was just another workday for Murray, as he quietly positions himself as a Heisman contender. The Georgia quarterback’s thrown 10 touchdown passes to only 2 interceptions. Playing for the best conference in college football, he’s a big reason why the Bulldogs currently claim a top five ranking.
4. E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State
Last Week: 482 total yards (102 rushing) & 2 TDs in win vs. Clemson
Outlook: Manuel’s performance against Clemson is what primetime football is all about. Not only does his team elevate themselves as national title contenders, but also he puts himself right in the thick of the Heisman race. Clemson gave FSU a scare for three quarters, but in the end, Florida State’s quarterback made the difference.
5. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
Last Week: 145 total yards (60 receiving) & 2 TDs in win vs. Missouri
Outlook: Another week passes and another solid outing from Lattimore. He now has at least one score in each of South Carolina’s four games. This was also South Carolina’s best performance to date, as QB Connor Shaw completed 20 straight passes. His performance may have overshadowed Lattimore, but long-term, South Carolina’s running back remains their best bet for a Heisman trophy contender.
6. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Last Week: 192 passing yards, 2 TDs, & 2 INTs in win vs. California
Outlook: The Trojans got a much-needed win versus California, but Barkley’s performance was a little underwhelming. He failed to throw for 200 yards and turned the ball over twice. He now has one or more interceptions in three of Southern Cal’s four games.
7. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State
Last Week: 253 rushing yards & 1 TD in win vs. Eastern Michigan
Outlook: While a 23-7 victory over EMU is nothing to write home about, Bell did add a second 200-plus rushing performance to his Heisman resume. The Big Ten also stinks this season, so Bell may run wild through the conference. He’ll get his first opportunity next week as the Spartans host Ohio State.
On the Bubble
Colin Klein, QB, Kansas State
Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford
Marquise Lee, WR, USC