Heisman Top 10: Big 12 Heisman Contenders


2. Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes

I debated ranking Patrick Mahomes here, based primarily on Texas Tech’s forecast. The Red Raiders are universally tabbed for the lower-half of a crowded Big 12 title race, and anything above seven wins has to be regarded as a win for Tech when weighed against preseason expectations.

But that’s exactly why Mahomes has such a strong Heisman case.

Should Tech defy its naysayers, Mahomes will take center stage. He already commanded some attention a season ago, putting up some of the best statistics of any play-maker in college football (4,635 passing yards, 36 touchdowns; 456 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns).

Attribute his numbers to Tech’s system if you like, but Mahomes brings an element in Lubbock not seen from past Red Raider quarterbacks. His style is more reminiscent of former Kliff Kingsbury protege Johnny Manziel than it is Graham Harrell.

Flirting with 50 touchdowns put Mahomes in the same company as recent Heisman contenders like J.T. Barrett, Deshaun Watson and Trevone Boykin, and 2014 winner Marcus Mariota.

1. Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield

This one’s a no-brainer. Baker Mayfield ranked as one of the two, biggest Heisman snubs of 2015, joining Navy’s Keenan Reynolds.

Mayfield was absolutely stellar in his first season with the Sooners, powering a complete offensive turnaround under Lincoln Riley. Mayfield looked like Riley’s muse, tearing up defenses as effectively with his legs (405 yards rushing, seven touchdowns) as his arm (3,700 yards, 36 touchdowns, 68.1 percent completions, just seven interceptions).

Mayfield heads into the 2016 season one of the slam-dunk early favorites to contend for the next Heisman. He’s in the same league as 2015 runner-up Christian McCaffrey, and the favorite for two of the three months of last regular season, Leonard Fournette.