The most prestigious award in college football will be presented Saturday night, when the 2015 Heisman Trophy is given to the most outstanding player in college football.
There are just three finalists this season: Alabama running back Derrick Henry, Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson.
The two most likely winners are Henry and Watson.
Watson led Clemson to an undefeated regular season, one that included wins over Notre Dame and Florida State, as well as an ACC Championship Game victory over North Carolina. The sophomore quarterback totaled 36 touchdowns (27 passing, nine rushing) and was the only player in the nation with at least 3,000-plus passing yards and 750-plus rushing yards.
Watson and the Tigers will continue the pursuit of their first national championship since 1981 when they take on Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, which will serve as one of the College Football Playoff’s semifinals.
Henry set an SEC record with 1,986 rushing yards, and he did it against six teams ranked in the top 50 in yards per carry. In fact, his rushing total was more than 53 FBS teams. He added 23 rushing touchdowns, too.
Watson had several good games, but none were as impressive as Henry’s performance against LSU on Nov. 8. The Tigers were the No. 2 ranked team at the time, and their starting running back Leonard Fournette easily was the frontrunner for the Heisman.
Henry dominated the game with 210 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, though, leading the Crimson Tide to a 30-16 win that vaulted them back into the College Football Playoff race. Fournette gained just 31 yards and a meaningless touchdown on 19 carries (1.6 yards per attempt) to eventually fade out of the Heisman picture.
LSU wasn’t the only top-25 opponent Henry dominated this season. He and Alabama played seven teams that were ranked at the time of the game, and the sophomore running back ran for at least 100 yards and a touchdown in every contest.
- 147 yards, 3 TD vs. No. 20 Wisconsin, Sept. 5
- 127 yards, 1 TD vs. No. 15 Ole Miss, Sept. 19
- 148 yards, 1 TD vs. No. 8 Georgia, Oct. 3
- 236 yards, 2 TD vs. No. 9 Texas A&M, Oct. 17
- 210 yards, 3 TD vs. No. 2 LSU, Nov. 8
- 204 yards, 2 TD vs. No. 17 Miss St., Nov. 14
- 189 yards, 1 TD vs. No. 18 Florida, Dec. 5
Henry finished the season with nine 100-yard games, including four 200-yard performances. He also scored at least one touchdown in every game, along with seven multi-score games.
His brilliant season led the Crimson Tide to the No. 2 ranking in the final College Football Playoff standings and a matchup with Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl — the other semifinal bowl.
Most experts and oddsmakers give Henry a clear edge, and he’s certainly deserving of it. He compiled fantastic stats in the toughest conference in the country against many ranked opponents.
Prediction: Henry becomes the first Alabama player to win the Heisman Trophy since 2009, when running back Mark Ingram joined the sport’s most exclusive club.
Thumbnail photo via Butch Dill/USA TODAY Sports Images