Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson of Louisville are Heisman finalists for the second straight year and will be joined in New York for the presentation ceremony by Stanford running back Bryce Love.
The three finalists were announced Monday night. The award for most outstanding college football player will be given out Saturday night.
Jackson is trying to become the second player to win two Heismans, joining former Ohio State star Archie Griffin, but Mayfield will come to Manhattan as the clear front-runner. He finished fourth in the Heisman voting in 2015 but was not invited to New York. Last year, he was one of five finalists and finished third behind Jackson and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson.
This season, Mayfield has led the No. 2 Sooners (12-1) to the Big 12 championship and the College Football Playoff. Oklahoma plays Georgia in the Rose Bowl semifinal on Jan. 1. Mayfield leads the nation in efficiency rating at 203.76 and has thrown for 4,340 yards and 41 touchdowns.
Jackson’s numbers have been better than last season in some categories, but Louisville (8-4) has not had the big wins to go with it. With little fanfare, the quarterback is averaging 411 total yards — up from 393 last season — and accounted for 42 touchdowns.
Griffin won back-to-back Heismans for Ohio State in 1974 and ’75.
Love is second in the nation in rushing at 164.42 yards per game and is averaging 8.32 yards per carry for the 15th-ranked Cardinal. An ankle injury slowed Love the last month of the season, but he still led the nation in rushes of at least 50 yards with 12. He also scored 17 touchdowns.
Not making that cut was a couple of talented running backs.
Penn State’s Saquon Barkley is second in the nation in all-purpose yards (179.5) and is fifth with 21 touchdowns, including two kickoff return touchdowns for the No. 9 Nittany Lions. He was also 2 for 2 passing with a touchdown. He was considered the favorite heading into the final month of the season, but the Nittany Lions lost twice, and his production fell off until a late surge.
San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny leads the nation in rushing (168.9) and all-purpose yards (224.8). Against Nevada three weeks ago, he scored on a rush, a kickoff return and a punt return. Penny had big games against Pac-12 teams Stanford and Arizona State early in the season but was held in check by San Diego State’s top Mountain West rivals, Fresno State and Boise State.