ESPN experts: Andrea Adelson, Edward Aschoff, Brian Bennett, Rece Davis, Travis Haney, Chris Low, Ivan Maisel, Ted Miller, Mark Schlabach and Jake Trotter
McCaffrey rockets into the No. 1 spot following a sensational performance in the Pac-12 title game win over USC. McCaffrey amassed 461 all-purpose yards, including 207 on the ground and 105 receiving in the 41-22 win, scoring twice and contributing a third TD on an 11-yard scoring pass to Kevin Hogan. What's more, McCaffrey obliterated the single-season all-purpose yards record previously held by Oklahoma State's Barry Sanders. McCaffrey is aiming to become Stanford's first Heisman winner since Jim Plunkett in 1970.
If Henry ultimately falls short of the Heisman, it won't be because of anything he did wrong down the stretch. The junior rushed for an incredible 1,321 yards and 13 touchdowns over his final seven games (188.7 per game), taking his 219 carries over that stretch for 6.0 yards per tote -- even when seemingly everyone in the stadium knew he was getting the football. Henry may lose out to McCaffrey because of a perception that he isn't as dynamic, but the record will reflect that what the holder of the SEC's single-season rushing record did in 2015, he did very, very well.
Watson is the best offensive player on the only undefeated team in Division I (FBS or FCS), comes off an ACC Championship performance that saw him account for 420 yards of total offense to carry his team to the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff -- and he drops from No. 2 to No. 3 in experts voting thanks to the weeks McCaffrey and Henry had. Watson may fail to muster the national support to win Clemson's first Heisman, but he is the first Heisman finalist in the Tigers' storied history -- and would likely "settle" for a national championship as a consolation prize.
The Big 12 and Oklahoma may have benefited in the College Football Playoff race from the lack of a conference title game, but the lack of opportunity for a "final statement" for Mayfield on Championship Week may have cost the junior a shot as a Heisman finalist. Mayfield, who enters the postseason ranked sixth in the country in TD passes (35) and will likely be named the Big 12's Offensive Player of the Year, was awarded the Burlsworth Award on Monday, given to the top player who started his career as a walk-on.
Cook was not chosen as a Heisman finalist despite a rushing yards per game average (150.7 per game) and touchdowns number (19) that is better than McCaffrey's, and a yards per carry average (7.9) that is better than McCaffrey's and Henry's. While he was sensational, Cook's case was likely doomed by a low number of truly high-profile opportunities to impress voters after FSU's loss to Clemson on Nov. 7. He'll be among the front-runners entering 2016, however.