The No. 9 Oklahoma Sooners (9-2, 9-0 Big 12) are all but out of the playoff mix, but OU quarterback Baker Mayfield and wide receiver Dede Westbrook could be named Heisman finalists later this month.
A door opens
That chance comes as Louisville quarterback and Heisman front-runner Lamar Jackson turned in a second-straight poor performance in a stunning home loss last week to a struggling 6-5 Kentucky squad.
Jackson committed three turnovers against the Wildcats, including a costly fourth-quarter fumble in the red zone that secured the victory for Kentucky. The Cardinals were dominated the week prior in a 31-10 upset by the University of Houston, a team that also beat OU.
Mayfield’s impressive season
Mayfield boasts the nation’s highest QBR (89.6) with a completion rate of 71.4 percent. He has passed for 3,381 yards with 35 touchdowns compared to only 8 interceptions in the season. Sooner fans might have cause for concern, however, given that Mayfield was not named a Heisman finalist last year even with similar numbers — 3,700 passing yards for 36 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. Lamar Jackson’s passing statistics (3,390 yards for 30 touchdowns and 9 picks) are not too shabby either. His Heisman contention, however, benefits from an impressive 1,538 yards on the ground for 21 additional TDs.
Westbrook jumps Jackson in ESPN poll
OU wide receiver Westbrook has had a breakout season and recently jumped Lamar Jackson on ESPN’s #CFBRank poll.
So far, Westbrook’s 2016 performance ranks third with 1,354 receiving yards and stands tied for first with 15 receiving TDs (alongside Ryan Broyles and Mark Clayton) in Sooner history. All the while, Westbrook has racked up a staggering 19.3 yards per reception.
It doesn’t help that Mayfield and Westbrook play for the same team. Traditionally, Heisman contenders from the same team tend to siphon votes from one another. The last time two Sooners were Heisman finalists, Jason White and Adrian Peterson finished second and third to Heisman winner Matt Leinart in 2004.
Although this season’s OU duo has slim chances of winning the trophy by any account, they have thus far made a strong argument for a seat at the Heisman finalists’ table.
Mayfield and Westbrook have at least one advantage over Jackson: a chance to impress Heisman voters on championship Saturday in the de facto Big 12 title game against Oklahoma State.
Westbrook and Mayfield currently stand at No. 3 and No. 4 in the ESPN Heisman Watch Experts’ poll. Could a breakthrough performance or “Heisman moment” this Saturday propel them even further? Perhaps.
Although Mayfield and Westbrook were named semifinalists for the Walter Camp player of the year award, neither made the list of five finalists released Wednesday.
The remainder of the season could also help propel the draft stock of Mayfield (a junior) and Westbrook (a senior).
The Sooners take the field against Oklahoma State at 11:30 a.m. Saturday in Norman.
The Heisman Trophy presentation ceremony begins 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10 on ESPN.