Saquon Barkley

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Citing love of teammates, Saquon Barkley says he’ll play in Penn State’s bowl game

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As was the case with one high-profile player on the West Coast earlier this month, another on the East Coast won’t be McCaffreying a bowl game.  Or Fournetting it for that matter.

Last season, running backs Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey, both at the time considered likely high first-round picks in the 2017 NFL draft, raised eyebrows and made headlines by skipping LSU’s and Stanford’s bowl games.  It led some to wonder whether this would, or even should, become the norm for players projected to be taken early in the next draft.

After Penn State beat took care of business against Nebraska in Week 12, running back Saquon Barkley took it as an affront that some had been suggesting that he would sit out the Nittany Lions’ bowl game to protect his stock as he expected to declare early.  If for nothing more, Barkley won’t do it out of love for his teammates.

That attitude merely serves as one of myriad reasons why NFL teams will absolutely fall further in love with the junior as the pre-draft process cranks into high gear.

15 semifinalists unveiled for prestigious Walter Camp Player of the Year Award

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One of the most prestigious awards in college football has whittled down the list of players who will be able to claim the famed hardware this season.

Wednesday, the Walter Camp Foundation announced its 15 “Players to Watch,” essentially semifinalists, for its prestigious Player of the Year Award. The Camp Award is voted on by the 130 FBS head coaches/sports information directors and is the fourth-oldest award in the sport.

“It’s been another exciting college football season with many teams and players still in the hunt for national recognition,” Foundation president Michael Madera said in a statement. “We’ve identified some outstanding players and we know the final weeks of the regular season should be even more thrilling.”

Players on both sides of the ball are eligible, but just four defensive players made the cut — North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb, Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, Miami defensive back Jaquan Johnson and Washington defensive end Hercules Mala’afa. Six of the 15 semifinalists are quarterbacks, the other five are running backs.

Only two players from a Group of Five program, Central Florida quarterback McKenzie Milton and San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny, are included.

Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, last year’s Camp winner, is a semifinalist once again.

Below is the complete “Players to Watch” list:

Josh Adams, RB, Junior, Notre Dame
Saquon Barkley, RB, Junior, Penn State
Bradley Chubb, DE, Senior, North Carolina State
Sam Darnold, QB, Sophomore, USC
Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Junior, Alabama
Baker Mayfield, QB, Senior, Oklahoma
Lamar Jackson, QB, Junior, Louisville
Jaquan Johnson, DB, Junior, Miami
Bryce Love, RB, Junior, Stanford
Hercules Mala’afa, DE, Junior, Washington State
McKenzie Milton, QB, Sophomore, UCF
Rashaad Penny, RB, Senior, San Diego State
Mason Rudolph, QB, Senior, Oklahoma State
Khalil Tate, QB, Sophomore, Arizona
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Freshman, Wisconsin

Bovada trims Heisman odds down to just three players, with Mayfield a runaway favorite

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With a few games left in the regular season, Bovada may see the writing on the wall as far as the Heisman Trophy is concerned. After updating the odds as they usually do at the beginning of the week, the shortlist for the Heisman Trophy is down to just three players, with Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield a runaway favorite.

Updated Heisman Trophy Odds via Bovada

While not entirely impossible for another player to creep up on the Heisman board at this point, it would be highly unlikely given how much of an edge Bovada is giving to Mayfield. Mayfield has been putting up extraordinary numbers and he’s been doing so in significant games. Even after a stellar performance against a tough run defense Friday night, Bryce Love is only able to pull into a tie with Penn State’s Saquon Barkley as his numbers continue to dwindle.

Mayfield has been among the most consistent offensive players in the country this season and is a big reason why the Sooners have soared to the top of the Big 12 and are in a position to make a run to the College Football Playoff. The odds even suggest Mayfield could have a hiccup down the stretch and he would still be the easy favorite to win the Heisman Trophy.

Oklahoma has had five Heisman Trophy winners in school history. One more with Mayfield would move the Sooners to one shy of the all-time record of seven, held by Ohio State and Notre Dame (and USC, since we all know Reggie Bush won one as well).

Move over Barkley. Baker Mayfield is the new Heisman favorite, per Bovada

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There’s a no leader in the Heisman Trophy clubhouse, according to Bovada. It should come as no surprise given how the weekend of college football just went down, but Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield has taken over the lead on the Heisman Trophy board from Bovada. He replaces Penn State running back Saquon Barkley as the favorite according to the sports book.

Mayfield set a school record for passing yards in a shootout win over Oklahoma State. Mayfield has now led the Sooners to two good quality wins on the road against Ohio State and Oklahoma State and has the Sooners in position to make a push for the Big 12 championship and, potentially, into the College Football Playoff. He will be tested this week against TCU, but Mayfield’s big day came at the best possible time to seize the Heisman Trophy momentum.

Barkley saw his 15-game touchdown streak snapped in Penn State’s loss at Michigan State, the second loss in a row for the Nittany Lions. Bryce Love of Stanford didn’t have a big game in a loss against Washington State, and JT Barrett followed up a Heisman-worthy performance against Penn State with a dud against Iowa. Mayfield outdid Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph and Notre Dame running back Josh Adams was taken out of the game early after minimal production due to an injury concern against Wake Forest.

As of Monday, the odds for the Heisman Trophy, which include last year’s winner Lamar Jackson of Louisville, look like this…

The top spot in the Heisman odds has changed a couple of times this season, although Barkley has been holding to the top spot for a while. If Mayfield follows up last week with another good showing in a win against TCU, there will not be much standing in the way to slow him down in the final weeks of the season. Barkley will need some big performances against weaker opponents (Rutgers, Nebraska, Maryland) to stand a chance of catching him as Penn State is out of the playoff hunt.

Michigan State found out Ohio State was down big from Saquon Barkley

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On Saturday, Penn State and Michigan State played a bit of a marathon game with a three-and-half hour weather delay. During the course of the delay, the Ohio State Buckeyes were digging a big hole on the road against Iowa. And during such an extended weather delay, some players on the field on both teams learned of the impending doom for the Buckeyes and how that impacted the stakes of the game in East Lansing.

For Michigan  State, the win over the Nittany Lions now sets them up for a showdown with Ohio State this week with a chance to gain the inside track to the Big Ten championship game. A Penn State win would have given Penn State hope for a return trip to the Big Ten championship game, although the Nittany Lions would still have needed a little help in the final few weeks.

But as the game between the Nittany Lions and Spartans was coming down to the wire, Michigan State players said they learned of the Ohio State result from none other than Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.

After the game, Penn State head coach James Franklin admitted his team did not handle outside distractions very well. Odds are good Barkley was not focused more on what Ohio State was doing than what he and Penn State had to do. Whatever happened with Ohio State, the game in East Lansing was a must-win for both teams anyway. But could the comment by Barkley have given Michigan State just a little more incentive in the clutch?