There was a time when Penn State’s Saquon Barkley was considered the odds-on Heisman favorite. Well, the Nittany Lion running back won’t even be in New York, as he finished 800 yards behind Stanford’s Bryce Love and out of the race, leaving it up to the country’s best back to carry the load this weekend.
The junior running back out of Raleigh, North Carolina, picked up where 2016 Heisman Finalist Christian McCaffrey left off, running for 1,973 yards on 237 attempts despite missing one game and being hobbled for several others with an ankle injury. Love averaged an insane 8.3 yards per carry despite playing behind several different quarterbacks and against teams that knew full well he was getting the ball. His 17 touchdowns on the ground were good for the seventh best total in the country, as he scored in all but one game he played. Love had games of 301 and 263 yards, with his lowest output of the season coming in Stanford’s loss at Washington State, where the hobbled back managed just 69 (nice) yards.
If there’s a weakness in his game, it’s as a pass catcher - Love had just six receptions in 2017 and 29 in his career. But that’s really only because he doesn’t need to play that role for the Cardinal.
Love will spend the weekend in NYC before focusing on preparing for a Gary Patterson defense that will be hell-bent on containing him, something we will talk much more about in the coming weeks. Though he is draft eligible, it appears Bryce won’t pull a McCaffrey and skip the bowl game, though he has yet to announce whether he will return for his senior year. Most expect him to stay though, as the Human Biology major hopes to become a doctor when his time on the gridiron is complete. Yeah, it’s Stanford.
The Heisman Trophy Ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, December 9th at 7:00pm. Love is joined by Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield and last year’s winner, Louisville QB Lamar Jackson, in the final three.