If there’s one preseason top-10 team that’s lived up to expectations this season, it’s Baylor.
The No. 2 Bears have blown out each one of their first five opponents – their average margin of victory is an absurd 42 points – thanks to their nation-best offense (64.2 PPG).
The leader of this ridiculous offense is quarterback Seth Russell. The junior from Garland, Texas has been a machine all season and owns the FBS' best efficiency rating (210.7).
While, to say the least, he hasn’t faced the strongest of pass defenses this season, Russell has been virtually unstoppable. He’s thrown for 1,527 yards and 22 touchdowns this season. He’s also rushed for four more scores.
Russell and Baylor’s latest victim was Kansas this past Saturday. Russell only played one half of football due to the game being out of reach at the break, but he still racked up 246 yards passing and four total touchdowns.
Russell has arguably the most interesting candidacy among the favorites for the Heisman. He has to be considered a top-five contender simply based on the numbers he’s putting up and that he’s doing so for the No. 2 team in the country. However, it has to be mentioned that he’s putting up these numbers against the likes of Kansas and Texas Tech, teams not exactly known for their defense.
However, Baylor’s schedule will start to get more difficult in the coming weeks and there’s an argument to be made that it will help Russell’s candidacy. Better opponents will give him the chance to show that his numbers aren’t simply the result of an easy schedule. Expect Russell to take full advantage of such opportunity; he’s a fantastic talent with a plethora of offensive weapons at his disposal, such as receivers Corey Coleman and Jay Lee. Seriously, don’t count on him slowing down.
At this point, the Bears are looking like the team most likely to make the College Football Playoff. That's nothing to gloss over, either, as team success is critical for a Heisman candidacy. While anything can happen any given Saturday, the Bears should finish the season undefeated and make the playoff if Russell and Co. can topple fellow Heisman candidate Trevone Boykin and TCU on Nov. 27. If they do just that, and assuming Russell continues to play near the level he is now, the Bears signal caller has a good shot at hoisting the coveted trophy.
Other candidates with rising stocks:
Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
Not surprisingly, Russell’s favorite receiving threat is putting up monster numbers himself. Corey Coleman racked up 108 yards receiving and two touchdowns against Kansas; he’s now posted at least 100 yards receiving and a touchdown in every game this season. For the year, he’s at 678 yards receiving (fifth in FBS) and a whopping 13 touchdowns (most in FBS). The problem for a top receiver like Coleman is that his quarterback will almost always be higher on the Heisman totem pole than he is, simply because QB is the sport's glamour position. Still, Coleman has been amazing and deserves to be recognized for his play.
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
Deshaun Watson and Clemson keep on rolling. Watson threw for 265 yards and two touchdowns as the No. 5 Tigers dismantled Georgia Tech 43-24 on Saturday. Watson's season-long numbers now stand at a solid 990 yards passing and 12 total touchdowns. As we’ve talked about, a stud quarterback on a potential CFP team is a pretty good recipe for being a Heisman candidate and Watson certainly fits the bill.
C.J. Prosise, RB, Notre Dame
There are a number of elite talents at running back this year and C.J. Prosise is absolutely among them. The senior played a pivotal role in Notre Dame’s 41-24 win over Navy on Saturday, rushing for 129 yards and three touchdowns. He’s up to 779 yards rushing (seventh in FBS) and nine touchdowns this season. As the engine that keeps the offense of a really good Notre Dame team moving, Prosise is a legitimate Heisman candidate.