Did Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson or Stanford do-it-all running back Christian McCaffrey do enough in their conference championship games to beat out Alabama running back Derrick Henry for the Heisman Trophy?
The deadline for voting for this year's Heisman passed at 5 p.m. Monday, and the ceremony is Saturday in New York. Henry, Watson and McCaffrey were named the three finalists Monday evening; it's a shame that Navy record-setting quarterback Keenan Reynolds didn't get an invite (more on him below).
If I had a vote, I'd probably go with Watson since he's the starting quarterback on the nation's top-ranked and only unbeaten team. Watson was spectacular in the ACC Championship Game win over North Carolina, passing for 289 yards and three scores and running 24 times for 131 yards and two more touchdowns. Go ahead and pencil the sophomore in as your early 2016 Heisman favorite -- especially if the Tigers win it all this season. Watson will have the highest finish in the Heisman voting of any Clemson player ever (previous high was No. 6).
McCaffrey, also a sophomore, was brilliant himself in the Pac-12 Championship Game win over USC. McCaffrey rushed 32 times for 207 yards and a score, caught four passes for 105 yards and a touchdown and even threw an 11-yard TD. He finished with 461 all-purpose yards and broke Barry Sanders' NCAA single-season record for all-purpose yardage. McCaffrey now has 3,496 and can really put that put that out of reach for anyone anytime soon with a big Rose Bowl against Iowa. It should be noted that Sanders put up his 3,250 yards in 1988 in two fewer games.
But I think Henry wins the vote -- he's the -300 favorite -- after he capped the regular season with a 44-carry, 189-yard, one-TD effort in the SEC title game win over Florida. Henry, a junior, presumably will declare for the NFL Draft and he should because Nick Saban is running him into the ground. Henry now has 90 carries combined in the past two games and has toted the rock 339 times for 1,986 yards and 23 scores this year, all school records.
Here is the one Week 15 opening line and a few other interesting bowl spreads/totals.
Army vs. Navy (-22.5, 53): The Midshipmen already know their postseason fate as they will play in the Military Bowl against Pittsburgh in Annapolis. So a home game for the Middies. As for this game, ESPN GameDay will be on hand in Philadelphia on Saturday for the 116th Army-Navy matchup. Navy is looking for its 10th win of the season, which would tie a school record. This rivalry has been anything but of late as Navy has won 13 straight vs. Army, which is only 2-9 this year (wins over cupcakes Eastern Michigan and Bucknell). The Middies' Reynolds was named the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year. He rushed for 1,093 yards and a league-leading 19 touchdowns. Reynolds also threw six touchdown passes with one interception in 84 attempts. He is the NCAA career leader in touchdowns scored (83), rushing touchdowns (83) and points scored (500) and is second among all active FBS players with 4,195 career rushing yards. Wait until you see Navy's specially-designed helmets for this game if you haven't already. They are truly amazing. 5Dimes has a prop on who ESPN's Lee Corso will pick to win this game, and Navy is the -900 favorite. This could be the final Army-Navy game for Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo. He has been mentioned as a candidate at BYU, which came open with Bronco Mendenhall taking the Virginia job.
Tulsa vs. Virginia Tech (-13, 62): The Dec. 26 Independence Bowl in Shreveport has the biggest spread of any bowl game. It's the 23rd straight bowl game for Virginia Tech, the longest such active streak recognized by the NCAA and the fifth-longest in college football history. In 1993, Tech started the bowl streak with a 45-20 win against Indiana in the Independence Bowl. It's also the final game for future Hall of Fame coach Frank Beamer, in his 29th season at Virginia Tech. The school already has hired Memphis' Justin Fuente to replace him. Not really sure why the Hokies are so heavily favored as they aren't very good at 6-6. They did close winning three of four, and that only loss was in overtime to a very good North Carolina team. Tulsa, of the American Athletic Conference, is also 6-6. Tulsa is 11th in the nation in passing offense (329.8 yards per game) and total offense (502.8 yards per game). The Golden Hurricane are led by first-year coach Phillip Montgomery, who was hired after spending nine seasons as an assistant coach at Baylor. He brought that up-tempo offense with him. These teams do have a common opponent: East Carolina. Tulsa lost at ECU 30-17 and Virginia Tech also lost there, 35-28.
No. 11 TCU vs. No. 15 Oregon (+1, 73.5): This Jan. 2 matchup in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio has the highest total on the board and rightly so between two of the nation's top offenses. TCU is third (564.3 yards per game) while Oregon is sixth (548.2) nationally in total offense. In scoring, Oregon is sixth (43.2) and TCU eighth (41.7). This could have easily been pictured as a College Football Playoff semifinal when the season began. The Ducks are peaking at the right time with six straight wins, including over ranked Stanford and USC. TCU lost two of its final four games but ended Baylor's College Football Playoff chances with a 28-21 double-overtime win in the Frogs' regular-season finale. TCU has been without one of the nation's best receivers in Josh Doctson for the past two games but he has a good chance of playing in the bowl. Doctson has 79 catches for 1,327 yards and 14 touchdowns. This would be his final game as well as that for star quarterback Trevone Boykin, who entered this season as the Heisman betting favorite. At stake for Oregon is a 10-win year for an eighth consecutive season, a streak that would tie Alabama (2008-2015), Virginia Tech (2004-11) and Miami (1985-92) for the fourth-longest run of 10-win seasons in college football's modern era.
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