- 1. Lamar Jackson, Louisville quarterback
- 2016: 1,330 passing yards, 526 rushing yards, 25 total touchdowns
Jackson’s offensive dominance was noted after the first two weeks but exploded to unforeseen levels after he led the Cardinals to a 63-20 victory over Florida State. The sophomore has accounted for an FBS-best 25 touchdowns (13 passing, 12 rushing) this season, leading the nation’s top scoring offense to a 63.5 point per game mark. Jackson also ranks first in quarterback rushing yards and fifth out of all rushers.
But Jackson is more than a glorified running back as evidenced by his passing for the ninth most yards in the country. The Louisville offense averages 682 yards per game, but Jackson can further add to his résumé if he sees similar production versus the No. 5 Clemson Tigers on Saturday night.
- 2. Christian McCaffrey, Stanford running back
- 2016: 436 rushing yards, 119 receiving yards, four total touchdowns
McCaffrey has now topped 100 yards from scrimmage in 16 straight contests, dating back to the 2015 opener. The junior has excelled this season with three performances of over 125 yards rushing and at least two catches in each game.
The 2015 Heisman runner-up is responsible for 54.1 percent of Stanford’s total offensive yards this season. Although defenses are predicting Stanford’s McCaffrey-centric offense, the versatile playmaker continues to produce, leading Stanford to three Power Five victories this season.
McCaffrey combats a resilient Washington defense Friday night, but it is the same opponent he recorded a career-high 112 receiving yards against last season.
- 3. Greg Ward, Jr., Houston quarterback
- 2016: 936 passing yards, 113 rushing yards, eight total touchdowns
Ward’s national presence was bound to diminish following the victory over Oklahoma, as Houston’s schedule simplifies. Ward continues to propel the Cougars to unparalleled heights, seeking to crash the postseason playoff by rolling through the American Conference.
The senior surpassed the 300-yard passing mark for the second time this season in a 40-16 win at Cincinnati, rushing for a season-high 73 yards and two touchdowns in the victory.
Ward accurately completed 76.9 percent of passes in a 64-3 hammering of Texas State in week four.
His shoulder injury continues to heal, in time for Thursday’s matchup against Connecticut. There is added significance to this matchup because the Huskies forced Houston’s lone loss in the Tom Herman era. Ward did not start that game due to injury but has the chance to avenge the loss this week.
- 4. Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State running back
- 2016: 599 rushing yards, seven rushing touchdowns, 8.2 yards per carry
San Diego State is rising in the rankings and can thank Pumphrey for his significant production. The senior tailback collected 281 yards and three touchdowns in the Aztecs’ 45-40 signature win over California in week two.
Pumphrey followed up the performance with a 220-yard, three touchdown outing in week three’s victory over Northern Illinois. Pumphrey’s Aztecs remain undefeated and could challenge the Houston Cougars for the coveted Group of Five spot in a New Year’s Six bowl by crushing their Mountain West schedule.