The 2015 Heisman Trophy will be handed out Saturday night (8 p.m. ET, ESPN). Before another player joins college football's most prestigious club, we allow our experts to make the closing argument for each candidate.
* -- Listed in alphabetical order.
Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
Stats: 339 carries, 1,986 yards, 23 TD
He broke Herschel Walker's single-season SEC rushing record, for goodness' sake. He tied Tim Tebow's single-season rushing touchdown record as well. You want the best player on the best team? Then look no further than Alabama running back Derrick Henry. The 6-foot-3, 242-pound junior from Yulee, Florida, is a monster running between the tackles, leading the country in rushing yards and yards after contact. What's more, he has speed, too, coming in second among Power 5 backs in carries of 25 yards or more.
You want a "Most Valuable Player"? He's that, too. He represents more than 36 percent of Alabama's total yards and 42 percent of its total touchdowns. Take him away, and Alabama is a three- or four-loss team. The offense is predicated off of him running the football so quarterback Jake Coker can work play-action and throw the ball deep. And with Kenyan Drake injured for much of the season and the third- and fourth-string backs being true freshmen, it really is all on Henry's shoulders, unlike in years past when Trent Richardson was Mark Ingram's sidekick and T.J. Yeldon was Eddie Lacy's backup.
Henry has done exactly what we ask of Heisman Trophy finalists -- get better as the season goes along and come up big in the biggest games. In his past six games against FBS opponents, he's averaging 208.8 rushing yards per game. In his last two games against Auburn and Florida in the SEC championship, he carried the ball a whopping 90 times for 460 yards and two touchdowns.
For the first half of the season, the college football world had Leonard Fournette penciled in as the Heisman favorite. And in one game, Fournette was stuffed and Henry ran wild, racking up 210 yards and three touchdowns against LSU. He vaulted to the front of the Heisman pack that night in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. At this point, what everyone should be asking is, what, if anything, has he done since then to lose his spot atop the Heisman race? -- Alex Scarborough
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
Stats: 319 carries, 1,847 yards; 41 rec., 540 yards; 13 total TD
Christian McCaffrey has amassed more yards in 2015 than any player in college football history. And since "outstanding player" is the chief stated criteria of the Heisman Trophy, that fact alone should lock up this award for the Stanford sophomore.
But we can delve deeper into just how transcendent McCaffrey's 2015 has been: His 3,496 all-purpose yards are already over 200 better than Barry Sanders' previous NCAA record -- 3,250 -- which stood for 27 years. There's a still a bowl game left to be played, and since McCaffrey is averaging more yards per touch (8.4) than Sanders did in 1988, expect his new mark to stand for quite some time (unless McCaffrey breaks it himself next year, of course).
McCaffrey's all-purpose total is also over 1,000 yards better than any other college football player this year. His stat line looks like it's dangling in the destructive wake of an omnipotent video game cheat code, especially when compared to other performers. Simply put, there has never been a statistical discrepancy this big in the history of the Heisman Trophy race.
McCaffrey can run in traffic -- he leads the country in runs of 10-plus yards against boxes containing eight or more defenders this year -- and he can deliver in space, a skill evidenced by his national top-10 rank in kick return average. That's a mind-blowing combination. McCaffrey is also the only player in the nation to lead his team in both rushing yards and receiving yards. Of course, he also paces the country in yards from scrimmage.
McCaffrey can do it all, and he's the only Heisman finalist who can legitimately say that. Heck, he has even thrown two touchdown passes, and that has earned him a higher quarterback rating than Deshaun Watson, who actually plays the position. OK, I know the sample size there is small so that's a joke, but the point remains: McCaffrey has proved to be one of the most versatile players to ever play college football. The numbers here don't lie: He has made the type of history that has pushed even the great Barry Sanders to the side.
Aside from securing a spot as the country's most outstanding player in 2015, surpassing Sanders is a ticket to college football immortality. McCaffrey has shattered prior standards of performance in much more profound ways than his competition, so he should win this year's Heisman Trophy. -- David Lombardi
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
Stats: 287-for-413 passing (69.5 percent), 3,512 yards; 163 carries, 887 yards; 41 total TD
Deshaun Watson's case should be pretty simple: He's the best player on the best team in the country, playing the most difficult position on the field.
It's no knock on the other contenders, but Watson's job as QB is far tougher, and he has done it exceedingly well. He has beaten three top-10 teams, accounting for nine touchdowns and 1,001 total yards in those games. He has torched defenses with his arm (420 passing yards against Boston College, the No. 1-ranked defense in the country) and he has been an unstoppable weapon with his legs (not counting sacks, he averaged more yards per rush than Henry or McCaffrey). And more than anything, Watson has been consistently great on a team that lost its No. 1 receiver in Week 1 and completely rebuilt its offensive line. He has topped 380 yards of total offense seven times -- including in his last six straight games as Clemson won an ACC title. -- David M. Hale