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Sam Richmond | NCAA.com | December 1, 2015

Heisman Watch: Dalvin Cook races into top five

Hand Him The...Florida State's Dalvin Cook

With Florida State’s dreams of playing in the ACC Championship already crushed, Dalvin Cook entered Week 13 with one last chance to impress before Heisman voting.

Well, the Seminoles’ running back took full advantage of the opportunity.

Facing the second stingiest rushing defense in the SEC – Florida finished the season allowing a paltry 3.3 yards per carry – Cook rushed for 183 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-2 victory. Cook was especially dominant during winning time; he rushed for 150 yards in the final quarter alone, preventing any chance of a Florida comeback.

A defense that made life a nightmare for many running backs this season was no match for the Seminoles sophomore.

That was far from a surprise, though. Cook has been a flat-out monster all season long.  

Despite missing one game and receiving only two carries in another due to injury, Cook now ranks fifth in the country with 1,658 yards rushing. Cook is also the owner of an absurd 7.9 yards per carry average, which ranks second among backs that have handled at least 100 carries, and his 18 rushing scores stand as one of the most impressive marks in the country (tied for fourth).

Furthermore, Cook has etched his name in the Seminoles' record book. He broke the school’s record for yards rushing in a season back on Nov. 14 and last Saturday set its single-season record for all-purpose yards with 1,875.

The 2015 regular season saw a lot of stellar play from running backs, but there’s no denying Cook has been one of the best. He’s played consistently great and carried a team that finishes the regular season at 10-2 and with a top-10 ranking in the AP Top 25. Cook’s ticket to the Heisman ceremony should be punched.

However, although Florida State’s No. 10 ranking will help Cook earn a trip to New York, the fact that it’s not a top-four ranking will almost certainly prevent him from coming home with the hardware.

In today’s college football landscape, being on a team that’s headed to the College Football Playoff appears critical in winning the Heisman, and Florida State will fall short of that goal.

Still, Cook capped off an outstanding regular season on the highest of notes against Florida and has put himself back among the top-five Heisman candidates.


The frontrunners

We enter championship week with a three-man race on our hands. Alabama’s Derrick Henry, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield are the three players that appear to have a realistic chance at winning the award. It’s worth noting that the three have one thing in common: They’re all on teams that seem poised to make the College Football Playoff.

While all are in the hunt, Henry is now the clear-cut frontrunner. The Alabama running back entered Week 13 in a tight battle with Watson at the top of the race, but he separated himself by hammering Auburn’s defense to the tune of 271 yards rushing and a touchdown. Henry now leads the country in both yards rushing (1,797) and touchdowns rushing (22).

Unfortunately for Watson, Henry’s spectacular game overshadowed his Week 13 performance. The Clemson quarterback lit up South Carolina with 279 yards passing (74.5 completion percentage), 114 yards rushing and four total touchdowns. Great stats, but not great enough to keep pace with Henry.

Watson's up to 3,223 yards passing (70.4 completion percentage), 27 touchdowns passing, a 161.9 efficiency rating (ranks 10th in the country), 756 yards rushing and nine touchdowns rushing this season.

Mayfield had the least impressive statistical performance of the three this week, throwing for 180 yards, rushing for 77 yards and scoring three total touchdowns against Oklahoma State. However, Mayfield’s numbers for the season are ridiculous and his team is the only one whose playoff status seems to be a 100 percent lock due to the Big 12 not having a championship game. He posted 3,389 yards passing (68.6 completion percentage), 35 touchdowns passing (ranks fifth in the country), a 178.9 efficiency rating (ranks fourth in the country), 420 yards rushing and four touchdowns rushing this season. Mayfield’s numbers might be a tad more impressive than Watson’s, but Clemson is undefeated and the No. 1 team in the country, so the ACC quarterback holds the slight edge among the two.

Related: Top performers from Week 13

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