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2018 College Football Picks & Predictions: First Look at the Heisman Trophy Contenders

2018 College Football Picks and Predictions – First Look at the Heisman Trophy Contenders: The 2017 College Football season is almost in the books, and while Alabama and Georgia will battle for the national championship, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield already etched his name in the record books by claiming this year’s Heisman Memorial Trophy.

Mayfield won’t be back next year, and neither will 2016 winner and 2017 finalist Lamar Jackson. The path is paved for a new group of contenders to emerge in 2018, and while next year is months and months away, it’s not to soon to take a look at some potential Heisman contenders for 2018 before college football goes into hibernation for bit.

Check out a first look at my top contenders for the 2018 Heisman Trophy.

2018 College Football Picks and Predictions: First Look at the Heisman Trophy Contenders

The Favorites

Assuming he decides to return to Stanford instead of entering the 2018 NFL Draft, Bryce Love will certainly be one of the Heisman favorites next season. Despite battling an ankle injury much of the year and missing a game, he finished second in the country with 2,118 rushing yards. Love also scored 19 times while averaging a ridiculous 8.1 yards per carry. Those numbers were good enough for a runner-up finish in this year’s Heisman voting, and he could walk away with the trophy with a similar performance next season.

Regardless of the outcome of Monday’s championship game, Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts has still managed to lead the Crimson Tide to the national title game in each of his first two years as a starter. He is also the X-factor for an otherwise run-heavy offense. Hurts has rushed for more than 800 yards in each of his seasons as the starter, and this year, he threw 17 touchdowns compared to just one interception. If he continues to progress as a passer while making plays with his legs, Alabama should be back in the title mix in 2018. If the Crimson Tide find themselves back in the College Football Playoff next year, it will be tough to overlook the guy that has been under center for the impressive run.

An impressive freshman season ended with Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor running for 1,977 yards, good enough for third in the country. The workhorse back helped the Badgers finish with an Orange Bowl win and a 13-1 record, and he should only get bigger and stronger with a year of experience under his belt. Wisconsin always boasts one of the top offensive lines in the country, and Taylor has a great shot to cruise past 2,000 yards next season. He was on the Heisman radar in 2017, and he looks like a serious contender for the award in 2018.

The Contenders

Ohio State has seen some great running backs in its day, but J.K. Dobbins set a new freshman record this year by rushing for 1,403 yards. He averaged an impressive 7.2 yards per carry, and he showed up in big games, topping 100 yards against Michigan State, Michigan and Wisconsin. Quarterback J.T. Barrett won’t be around in 2018, so the Buckeyes will likely lean on Dobbins and the ground game even more in 2018. An Ezekiel Elliott-type season is certainly possible for Dobbins as he becomes the focal point of the offense for a team that will have championship aspirations.

The NFL scouts are already high on Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, and he could be on the radar of Heisman voters by the end of 2018. He threw for 15 touchdowns and nearly 2,000 yards while running for five scores despite missing five games, and the Ducks lost four of the five games he was sidelined, leaving little doubt about his value to this team. Herbert has the tools to break out as the leader of an always-dangerous Oregon offense.

Playing behind Nick Chubb and Sony Michel will make it tough for any running back to get noticed, but with both players headed for the NFL, D’Andre Swift will have the Georgia backfield to himself in 2018. Swift is an absolute burner, and he is capable of beating defenses as a running back and a receiver. He is averaging 7.8 yards per carry and 9.7 yards per catch heading into the national title game, piling up 749 total yards on just 92 touches. His usage could nearly triple next year, so it’s easy to envision Swift putting together the type of numbers that generate Heisman buzz.

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