Heisman Trophy: The statistical case for the finalists

Deshaun WatsonA linebacker is among the 2016 Heisman Trophy finalists, but a running back is not. That is among the storylines heading into Saturday’s ceremony (8 p.m. ET, ESPN/WatchESPN).

Record-setting season for Louisville’s Jackson

Lamar Jackson passed for 3,390 yards and 30 touchdowns with nine interceptions. The sophomore was valuable running the ball, too, accumulating 1,538 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground.

Jackson was the third player in FBS history to record 30 pass touchdowns and rush for 20 more in one season. The other two players (Cam Newton and Tim Tebow) won the Heisman.

Among the ACC records Jackson set were the single-season mark for touchdown responsibility (51) and the single-game total offense record (610 yards in Week 2 against Syracuse).

No player from Louisville has won the Heisman. The only top-10 finisher in school history is Elvis Dumervil, who finished 10th in 2005.

If Jackson wins, he will be the youngest Heisman Trophy winner. Born Jan. 7, 1997, Jackson will be 19 years, 337 days old Saturday — five days younger than Jameis Winston at the time of his win.

Before the season, Jackson’s odds to win the Heisman were 100-1 (a winning $1 bet would produce $100), according to Westgate Las Vegas. When Heisman odds closed in mid-November, Jackson’s odds were 1-50 (it would take a $5,000 bet to win $100).

Mayfield productive, efficient

Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield passed for 3,669 yards and 38 touchdowns with eight interceptions. He rushed for six TDs.

After last week’s games, he is the FBS leader in Total QBR (91.6), completion percentage (71.2 percent) and yards per attempt (11.1). The last player to finish a season in the top three in the FBS in each of those categories was Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson in 2011.

Mayfield finished fourth in the Heisman voting last season. This season, he has a better completion percentage, more touchdown passes and a higher Total QBR than he did last season.

Can Watson improve on last season’s showing?

Clemson’s Deshaun Watson passed for 3,914 yards and 37 touchdowns (both tops in the ACC this season) with 15 interceptions. He rushed for 529 yards and six TDs.

On Thursday, Watson won the Davey O’Brien Award for the second time. He’s the fourth two-time winner of the award, and each of the other three also won the Heisman Trophy in one of the seasons he won the O’Brien.

Last season, Watson finished third in Heisman voting, the best finish by a Clemson player. This year he looks to top that with the school’s first Heisman Trophy.

Should Watson and Jackson finish first and second in the Heisman voting, it would be the first time since 2008 and the seventh time in Heisman history that the winner and runner-up came from the same conference (Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy from the Big 12 were the most recent to do it).

Oklahoma’s Westbrook specializes in big plays

Dede Westbrook had 74 catches for 1,465 yards and a school-record 16 touchdowns. He also scored a touchdown on a punt return. His receiving yards, receiving touchdowns and yards after the catch (704) led the Big 12.

The Oklahoma senior, who won the Biletnikoff Award on Thursday, led Power 5 receivers in 20-yard receptions with 26 and in 100-yard receiving games with eight.

Peppers: versatile and valuable

Michigan sophomore linebacker Jabrill Peppers could become the second primarily defensive player to win the Heisman (Charles Woodson, also of Michigan, won in 1997). Only six defensive players have finished in the top three of Heisman voting.

Peppers took at least 10 snaps at linebacker, defensive back, quarterback, running back and wide receiver. He has 72 tackles, including 16 tackles for a lost, with four sacks and an interception.

He has rushed for three touchdowns and returned a punt for a touchdown — the same number of touchdowns Woodson scored by those means in his Heisman season.

Peppers is the first defensive player invited to the Heisman ceremony since Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o in 2012.

When Heisman odds closed Nov. 17, Peppers was the second favorite to Jackson at 15-1.

Did you know?

This is the sixth time a running back will not finish in the top five of Heisman voting — but the third time in the past five years.

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