Heisman Watch 2020: Top Contenders in Race for College Football’s Biggest Honor | Bleacher Report

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    The SEC Championship Game is shaping up to be one of, if not the, most important games to the Heisman Trophy race. 

    Florida Gators quarterback Kyle Trask is putting up numbers comparable to 2019 Heisman winner Joe Burrow and has a chance to dethrone the Alabama Crimson Tide on December 19. 

    If Trask outduels Alabama quarterback Mac Jones in that contest, he could secure one of the most coveted pieces of hardware in college football. 

    Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields and Trevor Lawrence of the Clemson Tigers will have a say in the final Heisman discussions as well with ranked opponents and conference championship games ahead on their respective schedules.

    Unless something drastic happens in the final month of regular-season play, the award should be handed out to a quarterback for the fifth straight year. 

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    Florida quarterback Kyle Trask (11) sets up to throw a pass during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Arkansas, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Trask has been the most explosive quarterback of the four Heisman candidates. 

    The Florida quarterback has thrown for at least four touchdowns in each of his six appearances. He ranks first in the FBS with 28 touchdown passes. 

    His fast start to the season is comparable to the numbers produced by Burrow in the LSU Tigers offense in 2019.

    ESPN’s Bill Connelly pointed out that both players had 148 completions and just three interceptions in that span. Trask has a slight advantage in passing yards and touchdowns. 

    Trask’s production should be sustainable up until the SEC Championship Game, as the Gators face four unranked teams before making a trip to Atlanta to face Alabama. 

    Florida’s next four opponents have a combined 7-17 record, so the Gators could be in line for a few more double-digit victories. 

    If Trask continues to put up high totals, his Heisman candidacy will improve, but it could all come down to his performance against Alabama.

    If he places the Gators in the College Football Playoff with a dominant showing against the No. 1 team in the nation, Trask could earn a good amount of first-place votes. 

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Jones’ totals against Alabama’s two ranked opponents put him in the mix to win the Heisman.

    The junior from Florida produced over 400 passing yards and four touchdowns in the victories over the Georgia Bulldogs and Texas A&M Aggies. 

    If he leads the Crimson Tide to a SEC championship with similar numbers, Jones will make a legitimate case to be the Heisman winner. 

    Before he gets to Atlanta, Jones needs to thrive against Alabama’s remaining regular-season opponents to remain in touch with Trask, Fields and Lawrence. 

    After they host the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday, the Crimson Tide host the Auburn Tigers, who enter Week 12 at No. 23 in the AP Top 25, in their final ranked matchup before the SEC Championship Game. 

    A year ago, Jones threw for 335 yards and four touchdowns in an Iron Bowl loss that cost Alabama a shot at the national championship.

    If Jones avoids the turnovers he committed in the rivalry game in 2019, he should produce some eye-popping passing totals with DeVonta Smith and John Metchie torching opposing defenses. 

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    Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

    Fields has a slight disadvantage in comparison to Trask and Jones because of the amount of games Ohio State has played. 

    Fields’ best opportunity to gain ground in the Heisman race could be on Saturday afternoon, when the Buckeyes host the Indiana Hoosiers. 

    Indiana could be viewed as Ohio State’s toughest competition because of the failures at other Big Ten East programs. 

    In his first three games, Fields produced 13 touchdowns, 11 through the air and two on the ground, while throwing for 908 yards. 

    Fields owns a 86.7 completion percentage and has not turned the ball over yet. If he remains that accurate and clean in the pocket, he could be in for a handful of dominant performances ahead of the Big Ten Championship Game. 

    For the sake of Fields’ Heisman candidacy, the Buckeyes should hope the Wisconsin Badgers remain undefeated in the Big Ten West.

    If Wisconsin is Ohio State’s opponent in the title clash, it would give Fields another opportunity to shine against a top 10 team. If another team emerges from the Big Ten West, it could have a lower ranking and may be viewed as a weaker opponent compared to the squads Trask and Jones faced in the SEC.

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    Ken Ruinard/Associated Press

    Lawrence’s anticipated return to the field is scheduled for Saturday against the Florida State Seminoles. 

    Prior to his positive COVID-19 test, Lawrence produced 1,833 passing yards, 17 touchdowns and two interceptions in six games. 

    The most important performance from the Clemson junior occurred against the Miami Hurricanes, who at the time were the No. 7 team in the country. 

    Lawrence completed 70.7 percent of his passes, threw for 292 yards and three touchdowns in the home rout of the ACC’s third-best team. 

    The projected No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft will get a shot at the conference’s top team as long as Clemson and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish win the rest of their conference games. 

    If Lawrence thrives against a trio of unranked opponents, he could go into the ACC Championship Game with a chance to win the Heisman and a spot in the College Football Playoff. 

    It will be hard for Lawrence to eclipse the overall numbers of Trask and Jones, but if he performs better than them on December 19, he may move into the first place conversation.

             

    Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

    Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.

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