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Heisman watch: Penn State RB Saquon Barkley leads the way

Heisman watch
BRAD PENNER/USA TODAY SPORTS

As a longtime Heisman Trophy voter and one who will cast his ballot again at the end of this season, GN’s Mike Huguenin takes a weekly look at the Heisman race.

We’ve waited six weeks for our first Heisman watch to get a truer picture of who deserves Heisman mention. Here are the top three contenders this week.

Remember that 14 of the past 17 winners have been quarterbacks, including six of the past seven.

3. UCLA QB Josh Rosen

Season stats: 159-of-245 (64.9 percent), for 2,135 yards, 17 TDs and five interceptions in five games.
Saturday’s stats: UCLA was idle.
The skinny: Rosen leads the nation in passing yards per game (427.0) by a wide margin. Yes, UCLA has two losses – and in those games, Rosen was 74-of-116 (63.8 percent) for 943 yards (471.5 ypg), seven TDs and four picks. It’s not his fault UCLA can’t run or play defense. Heck, if the Bruins could play even a smidgen of defense (they’ve surrendered 106 points in the two losses), they’d be 5-0 and Rosen – whose outspoken nature works against him – would be leading these mock Heisman things because it’s all about stats and wins.

2. Stanford RB Bryce Love

Season stats: 118 carries for 1,240 yards (10.5 yards per carry) and nine TDs in six games (206.7 yards per game).
Saturday’s stats: 20 carries for 152 yards (7.6 yards per carry) and a TD in a 23-20 win over Utah.
The skinny: How good has Love been thus far? He ran for 152 yards and averages 7.6 yards per carry Saturday – and his season averages went down. He is the only back nationally over 1,000 yards (he is almost 250 yards ahead of the guy in second place) and he is outrushing 97 teams. He is on a pace to set the FBS single-season rushing record.

1. Penn State RB Saquon Barkley

Season stats: 102 rushes for 649 yards (6.4 yards per carry) and six TDs, 29 receptions for 395 yards (13.6 yards per catch) and two TDs and 1,302 all-purpose yards (217.0 yards per game) and nine TDs.
Saturday’s stats: 16 carries for 75 yards (4.7 yards per carry) and two TDs and two receptions for 9 yards in a 31-7 win over Northwestern.
The skinny: Don’t focus on the rushing yards; heck, Barkley is third in the Big Ten in rushing yards per game. Instead, focus on his all-around game – he is second nationally in all-purpose yards – and his weekly impact. Plus, he’s the one running back nationally who is must-watch TV, no matter the opponent.

(You can follow Mike Huguenin on Twitter @MikeHuguenin)

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