The 2017 Heisman Finalists: Breaking down the numbers

To make it to New York as a Heisman finalist, you have to have a great season.

That not only means producing lots of yards and touchdowns, it also means playing well in big games and coming through for your team in key moments.

Each of the 2017 Heisman finalists did just that. Here’s a breakdown of what got them invited to the Heisman ceremony and how those accomplishments compare to previous Heisman winners:

Lamar Jackson

The 6-3, 220-pound junior led Louisville to an 8-4 record and a berth in the Taxslayer Bowl against Mississippi State. He led the nation in total offense (4,932 yards, just four yards more than his yardage at this time last season) and total offensive yards per game (411).  He is the first player in FBS history to record two seasons with at least 3,000 yards passing and at least 1,000 yards rushing. He is also the only player in the ACC’s 65-year history to be named the league’s player and offensive player of the year in consecutive seasons.  He topped 300 yards of total offense in every game this season, with a season-best 525 yards against North Carolina and 512 yards against Boston College. His consistent brilliance earned him a return trip to New York as a finalist, making him the youngest two-time finalist in history.

As far as Heisman comparisons go, it’s easiest to compare Jackson to himself, since his production this seaon so closely tracks what he did last year. If he were to win the Heisman again, his total offense yardage of 4,932 yards would be the second-best total in Heisman history (to Ty Detmer’s 5,022 yards in 1990), passing his own total from 2016. His 42 touchdowns would be tied for the 10th best in Heisman history.

Passing Stats – 3,489 yards, 25 TDs, 6 INTs, 60.4%, 151.52 rating.
Rushing Stats – 1,443 yards on 208 carries, 6.94 ypc, 17 TDs
Total Offense – 4,932 yards, 42 touchdowns, 8.13 yards per play.

Highlights of Jackson vs. North Carolina

Bryce Love

The 5-10, 196-pound junior led Stanford to a 9-4 record, the Pac-12 North championship and a berth in the Alamo Bowl versus TCU. Love, who spent the last couple seasons as a backup to former Heisman runner up Christian McCaffrey, burst onto the scene with 180 yards on just 13 carries against Rice in the season opener. He churned out 263 yards against UCLA and 301 against Arizona State, putting him on pace to shatter the 2,000-yard rushing barrier.  In fact, his 1,088 rushing yards through five games are the fourth-most by any player in FBS history. However, Love was slowed by a high ankle sprain in the back half of the season, missing one full game against Oregon State and parts of others. Nonetheless, Love finished second nationally in rushing with 1,973 yards while averaging 164 yards per game. He also added 17 touchdowns, while cranking out a nation-leading 12 runs of 50-plus yards. Perhaps his most impressive game came against Washington, when he carved out 166 yards and three TDs on 30 carries against an elite defense. He also showed incredible fortitude by rushing for 125 yards in the Pac-12 title game against USC despite being visibly hobbled by his ankle injury.

If Love wins the Heisman, his 1,973 yards will be seventh-best in Heisman history, while his 164.42 yards per game will be 10th best.

Rushing Stats – 1,973 yards on 237 carries, 8.32 yards per carry, 164.42 yards per game.
Receiving States – 6 receptions, 33 yards.
All-Purpose Stats – 2006 total yards, 167 yards per game.

Love’s Season Highlights

Baker Mayfield

Mayfield, a fifth-year senior, led Oklahoma to a 12-1 record, the Big 12 title and a berth in the College Football Playoff. Along the way, he produced arguably the finest season by a passer in FBS history. Mayfield finished third in the Heisman vote last season and entered 2017 as one of the preseason favorites for the award. He got off to a great start, throwing for 386 yards and 3 touchdowns (with no interceptions) in Oklahoma’s impressive 31-16 victory over Ohio State in Columbus. Mayfield maintained his consistency throughout the middle chunk of the season and then exploded in early November with 598 yards and 5 TD passes in a thrilling 62-52 win over Oklahoma State in Stillwater. He capped the season with 243 yards and 4 TD passes in the Big 12 title game against TCU. He finished with 4,340 passing yards with 41 touchdowns and just 5 interceptions. His passer efficiency rating of 203.76 is over 7 points above his own NCAA record of 196.38 set last season and his 10.24 yards per play leads the nation. He also added 310 yards and 5 TDs rushing, bringing his total touchdowns accounted for this season to 46.

If Mayfield wins, his passer rating would be best in Heisman history, as would his yards per play. His 4,650 yards of total offense would put him fourth on the all-time Heisman chart, while his 46 TDs would place him 7th on the touchdown chart. His 4,340 passing yards would be fourth-best, while his 41 TD passes would be tied for for third.

Passing Stats – 4,340 yards passing, 41 TDs, 5 INTS, 71%, 203.76 rating.
Rushing Stats – 310 yards on 85 carries, 3.64 yards per carry, 5 TDs.
Total Offense – 4,650 yards, 46 touchdowns, 10.24 yards per play.

Mayfield’s Highlights