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Heisman Watch: Saquon Barkley vs. Bryce Love

Going into the season, most college football experts projected the Heisman to go to someone at the quarterback position. Names like Sam Darnold, Lamar Jackson, J.T. Barrett, and Baker Mayfield were some of the most popular picks to take home the hardware come December.

However, two players that have stood out in the crowd are none other than Penn State’s Saquon Barkley and Stanford’s Bryce Love — both running backs. Barkley put the college football world on notice with his absurd performance against Iowa, racking up 358 all-purpose yards in a tough win. Meanwhile on the west coast, Love is leading the nation in rushing yards with 1,387 through seven games.

These two are currently the frontrunners for the award, with Barkley barely edging out Love after his dominant game against Michigan. But what separates the leaders of the pack from each other?

Rushing

As noted earlier, Bryce Love is currently leading the nation in rushing yards. Barkley, on the other hand, is ranked 18th with 757 yards on 117 carries. With only 18 more carries than Barkley, Love has 600-plus more yards on Barkley in the ground game.

In a pair of Pac-12 clashes, Love ran wild for 301 yards against Arizona State, a Stanford record, and 263 yards against UCLA. Barkley’s high in rushing yardage is no slouch (211), but Love has been producing Christian McCaffrey-like numbers that are just too good to ignore. Love wins this category due to his sheer downfield running ability and the lack of other playmakers for Stanford on the offensive side of the ball.

(Photo: Sam Girvin / The Stanford Daily)

Receiving

This one isn’t even close. Saquon Barkley has an impressive 448 receiving yards on merely 32 catches — ranking seventh in the Big Ten. Meanwhile, Bryce Love isn’t much of a target for Cardinal quarterback Keller Chryst, managing only 19 yards on four receptions.

Barkley has ripped off huge plays as a receiver so far this season, most notably against Iowa, Georgia State, and Michigan. There’s not a lot that Saquon Barkley can’t do on offense, which is why he’s ranked so highly by NFL Draft experts.

Versatility

Saquon Barkley has touchdowns rushing, receiving, kick returning, and even passing. Love can only say the same about his rushing touchdowns. Barkley really is the jack of all trades, using his combination of speed, power, and agility to make defenders miss.

He is simply more of a game-changer than Love, as he’s effective on not only offense, but special teams as well. Barkley even has his signature hurdle move, making players like Josey Jewell of Iowa look ridiculous. If the Penn State star can keep it up, especially during these next two weeks where the Nittany Lions face a pair of ranked opponents on the road, the Heisman will be his to lose.

About the Author

Austin Smith

Austin Smith is a rising junior broadcast journalism major. He grew up in New Jersey and is a writer for Onward State. He specializes in football, basketball, and eating Insomnia Cookies.

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