Heisman Trophy winners need Heisman moments and at least a few big-stage games to bolster their resumes on the way to New York.
The early season chatter has mostly been dominated by first-year starting quarterbacks from highly ranked teams: Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins and Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray.
A couple of Pac-12 stars have a chance to put themselves into the mix on Saturday night when No. 7 Stanford visits No. 20 Oregon. Cardinal running back Bryce Love was last year’s Heisman runner-up behind Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield, but he is off to a slow start. Love was held in check by San Diego State in Stanford’s opener — though all the attention paid to Love allowed the Cardinal’s passing game to flourish. Then Love sat out last week’s tune-up against UC Davis because of an undisclosed injury that doesn’t seem to have been particularly serious.
Love already is way behind the field in the Heisman race, but the speedster can make up ground during a nationally televised night game.
Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert has put up nice numbers in the first three weeks of the season, with 10 touchdown passes, no interceptions and 10.4 yards per attempt. He is not quite at the Tua level, but he’s not that far off.
The problem for Herbert is Oregon’s nonconference schedule might have been the weakest in the country. Texas A&M bailed on a home-and-home with the Ducks a few years backs and left Oregon without a Power Five nonconference opponent. And the way the Pac-12 schedule lays out for the Ducks, this Stanford game could be one of Herbert’s few times in the spotlight. Oregon hosts Pac-12 North rival Washington in three weeks, but the Ducks’ Pac-12 South games are against UCLA, Arizona and Arizona State. Maybe the Sun Devils will be good?
But it starts with Stanford. If Herbert and the Ducks don’t impress, the Heisman talk is moot.
No. 10 Penn State (minus 28) at Illinois
Nittany Lions are playing their first regular-season Friday game since 1982. This is weird … PENN STATE 35-14.
FAU (plus 13½) at No. 16 UCF
Lane Train vs. the defending “national champions” … UCF 42-24.
No. 22 Texas A&M (plus 27) at No. 1 Alabama
Nick Saban is 12-0 against former assistant Jimbo Fisher, including 1-0 against Fisher while he was at Florida State … ALABAMA 48-17.
No. 2 Georgia (minus 14½) at Missouri
Another quarterback with a chance to get some Heisman attention: Mizzou’s Drew Lock … GEORGIA 48-28, BEST BET.
No. 3 Clemson (minus 17) at Georgia Tech
Tigers have won five of six in the series, all by at least 14 points … CLEMSON 35-16.
Tulane (plus 35½) at No. 4 Ohio State
Buckeyes preseason All-America DE Nick Bosa (abdominal strain) is out indefinitely … OHIO STATE 56-10.
Army (plus 31½) at No. 5 Oklahoma
The storied programs have met three times. Army beat OU in 1946 behind Heisman winners Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis, and Oklahoma won in 1959 and ’61 by a combined 14 points. This probably won’t be like that … OKLAHOMA 42-21.
Louisiana Tech (plus 20) at No. 6 LSU
Tigers are the only team in the country that has not committed a turnover … LSU 42-17.
No. 7 Stanford (minus 2) at No. 20 Oregon
For a few seasons, this was THE rivalry in the Pac-12; Cardinal have won the last two by a combined score of 101-34 … OREGON 31-28.
No. 8 Notre Dame (minus 7½) at Wake Forest
ND is one of 17 FBS teams that have thrown more interceptions (four) than touchdown passes and the only one still unbeaten … WAKE FOREST 28-24, UPSET SPECIAL.
Arkansas (plus 30) at No. 9 Auburn
Tigers have won four of last five and averaged 47 points in those games … AUBURN 47-13.
Arizona State (plus 17½) at No. 10 Washington
In one of the strangest results of last season: Sun Devils 13, Huskies 7 … WASHINGTON 28-13.
Kansas State (plus 16½) at No. 12 West Virginia
Last four meetings have been split and decided by an average of three points … WEST VIRGINIA 35-21.
No. 13 Virginia Tech (minus 27½) at Old Dominion
Hokies leave the mountains and visit the other side of the state … VIRGINIA TECH 45-14.
No. 14 Mississippi State (minus 10) at Kentucky
Second best team in the SEC West vs. the second best team in the East? Maybe … MISSISSIPPI STATE 31-20.
Texas Tech (plus 13) at No. 15 Oklahoma State
Cowboys have won nine straight meetings, averaging 48 points per game … OKLAHOMA STATE 49-31.
No. 17 TCU (minus 3½) at Texas
Average score of last four meetings, all won by the Horned Frogs: TCU 38, Texas 8 … TCU 31-28.
No. 18 Wisconsin (minus 3½) at Iowa
Badgers’ offensive line vs. Hawkeyes’ defensive line is a delightful Big Ten slugfest … WISCONSIN 23-18.
Nebraska (plus 18½) at No. 19 Michigan
Huskers hope to have QB Adrian Martinez (knee) back … MICHIGAN 28-17.
FIU (plus 26½) at No. 21 Miami
First game against the Hurricanes for former Miami coach Butch Davis, now with FIU … MIAMI 48-20.
No. 23 Boston College (minus 6½) at Purdue
Boilermakers have lost three homes games by a total of eight points and could be due to catch a break … PURDUE 35-31.
No. 24 Michigan State (minus 5) at Indiana
Hoosiers are 3-0 for the first time since 2015 … MICHIGAN STATE 27-20.
Northern Illinois (plus 10) at Florida State — @StuartROwens
Seminoles desperately need a low-drama victory to calm things down in Tallahassee, Florida … FLORIDA STATE 24-7.
Florida (minus 4½) at Tennessee — @jfried—95
Gators have taken 12 of 13 in a once-great rivalry … FLORIDA 24-16.
North Carolina State (minus 5) at Marshall — @kmo11
Both teams had their games last week canceled by Hurricane Florence … NORTH CAROLINA STATE 31-24.
South Carolina (minus 2½) at Vanderbilt — @CrustyBeard
Gamecocks have won nine straight, but plenty of competitive games in there … SOUTH CAROLINA 24-20.
Last week: 16-6 straight; 10-12 against the spread.
Season: 49-13 straight; 33-28-1 against the spread.
Upset specials: 2-1 (straight up).
Best bets: 2-1 (against the spread).
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at https://www.podcastone.com/AP-Top-25-College-Football-Podcast
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/tag/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP—Top25