We’re back! Our MNC Wednesday miniseries has been scrutinizing Heisman Trophy history, and in 64 seasons overall, we have confirmed just 19 vote winners. The season under analysis today is a ridiculous one, as Covid ravaged the United States (and the world), and some conferences ignored warnings to play through a pandemic, all in the name of profiteering. Therefore, schedules and statistics were very uneven, and this is the best we could do with it. Oh well!

2020 Heisman Trophy winner: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama (original); Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State (revised)

It’s rare we get a wide receiver winning the vote these days, but Alabama Crimson Tide WR DeVonta Smith won the vote as his team went 11-0 in the Covid-shortened season to win the SEC and reach the CFP. His stats were very good: 117 receptions for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns. Smith added a rushing score and some return yardage for 2,151 total yards and 25 TDs combined. He did this against the No. 3 SOS in the country, so it is going to be a tough profile to beat.

Of course, we have learned through more than a year of these columns that there are always other high-quality candidates to consider. This is our final list of firmly vetted Heisman candidates, and it is pretty wacky:

  • Mac Jones, QB, Alabama: 4,500 passing yards for 42 total TDs and 4 interceptions with a 203.1 QB rating
  • Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson: 3,364 total yards for 32 total TDs and 5 interceptions (No. 53 SOS)
  • Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State: 1,752 total yards for 23 total TDs (No. 27 SOS)
  • Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State: 2,483 total yards for 27 total TDs and 6 INTs with a 175.6 QB rating (No. 7 SOS)

Smith led the nation in receiving yards by over 660 yards, but with Jones topping the country in passing efficiency, both these guys pretty much cancel each other out—especially when you add in a 1,450-yard rusher and the No. 13 scoring defense. This team was loaded, so was Jones more responsible for Smith? Or was Smith more responsible for Jones? It doesn’t even matter. All ‘Bama candidates here are out, because the team itself was over-the-top good, in context.

For the record, Smith (1st), Jones (3rd), and the RB (Najee Harris, 5th) all finished in the Top 5 for the voting. Come on! That leaves us with Lawrence next, who guided Clemson to the ACC title and a CFP slot. His SOS is mediocre, and his QB rating trailed Jones by a mile (169.2). But he may be the best we have under the circumstances, and remember, this Covid year really was a mess for the entire sport as some conferences played a lot of games—and others did not.

Hall helped his team get to the Fiesta Bowl, but three losses for the Cyclones really hurt his candidacy here. Meanwhile, Fields played an elite schedule—albeit a short one—to win the B1G and qualify for the CFP. He immediately jumps to the top of our list here with those credentials. And with the season and the contender list itself so screwy? That’s all it takes to clinch this award in our minds. Years ago, we thought he deserved the 2019 Heisman, but in reality, this one is his.

Congratulations to Justin Fields, the real Heisman Trophy winner for 2020.