Baker Mayfield heads to Heisman ceremony as favorite

By Anthony Gimino, The Sports Xchange  |  Dec. 8, 2017 at 7:18 PM
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Baker Mayfield, who finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting last season, is a near-lock on Saturday night to become the sixth Oklahoma player to win the award.

Mayfield checks all the boxes: He's a quarterback. His team is among the best in the nation, seeded No. 2 in the College Football Playoff. He has record-setting stats. He has name recognition. He's had Heisman "moments," such as big performances in wins over Ohio State, Texas, Oklahoma State and twice over TCU.

Mayfield, a senior, was in New York City for the ceremony last season, when he finished behind winner Lamar Jackson of Louisville and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson.

This year's award will be announced near the end of the hour-long the presentation show that begins at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

"People want to say, 'favorite this and that,'" Mayfield told reporters on Friday. "No, I'm just trying to enjoy it. It's an honor just to be here around these people and be a part of this process."

Two other finalists were invited to New York City -- Stanford junior running back Bryce Love and Jackson, a junior who is trying to join Ohio State running back Archie Griffin (1974 and 1975) as the only two-time winner of the award.

Mayfield would become the third Oklahoma quarterback in the past 15 seasons to win the Heisman. Sam Bradford took home the stiff-armed trophy in 2008; Jason White won in 2003.

Other Sooners to win the award as college football's most outstanding player are running back Billy Vessels (1942), running back Steve Owens (1969) and running back Billy Sims (1978).

Notre Dame has the most Heisman winners in history with seven. Ohio State has also won seven times with six players. USC officially has six winners, since Reggie Bush's 2005 award was vacated due to NCAA sanctions.

Other than Oklahoma, no other school has produced more than three Heisman winners.

Mayfield has completed 262 of 369 passes for 4,340 yards, with 41 touchdowns and five interceptions. He leads the nation in passing efficiency with a rating of 203.8, which is ahead of the FBS-record 196.4 mark he posted last season.

Mayfield won two major awards Thursday night -- the Maxwell, given to the top player in college football, and the Davey O'Brien Award, given to the best quarterback.

"It's going to be a long list of thank yous, because a lot of people helped get me to this point," Mayfield said.

The other two finalists have had historic seasons, too.

Love has rushed for 1,973 yards in 12 games, playing through a high ankle sprain in the second half of the season. His absence against Oregon State -- when Stanford had to rally to win 15-14 after gaining just 222 total yards -- highlighted his value to the team.

Love set an FBS record with 12 runs of at least 50 yards this season.

Jackson's numbers are similar to last season -- 3,489 passing yards, 1,443 rushing yards -- but he lacked a signature victory. He still became the first player in college football history to reach the 3,000/1,000 marks in back-to-back seasons.

Jackson leads the nation with 411.0 yards of total offense per game and could eclipse last season's numbers (3,543 passing yards, 1,571 rushing yards) during Louisville's appearance in the TaxSlayer Bowl vs. Mississippi State.

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