Saturday Round Up: Week 5

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Heisman Watch calls out the weekend’s polarizing performances and how they impact the Heisman Trophy race.

This time last year there were 5 running backs in the Heisman Trophy race (i.e. Leonard Fournette, Ezekiel Elliot, Dalvin Cook, Nick Chubb, and eventual winner Derrick Henry).  They refreshingly named it, ‘the year of the running back’.  The 2016 Heisman Trophy appears to be gravitating, once again, towards a quarterback.  

One data point worth mentioning. The Heisman Calculator suggests running backs vacate an enormous amount of votes when their team loses. Hence, Donnel Pumphrey‘s downgrade despite racking up +150 yards. Good quarterback play, despite a loss, demonstrates to negatively effect ‘votes’  but isn’t catastrophic by any means. 

Top Heisman-like Performances:

  • Lamar Jackson ACES his midterm exam. Yes, Louisville came up short, but through the lens of the ‘big-picture’, Jackson will remain relevant simply by being the most exciting football player in the country. With a slate of manageable ACC games to play in the ensuing weeks, Jackson will continue to excel in every statistical category imaginable. Baring a Buster Douglas-like KO or injury, Jackson will continue to be a 2016 Heisman favorite.
  • Clemson came roaring back in the 4th quarter to beat #3 Louisville. Deshaun Watson made huge plays for the Tigers on what was arguably the brightest stage in recent college football history.  As far as the Heisman Trophy race goes, expect to see Watson featured as the #1 candidate in many soon-to-be-released Heisman rankings.
  • J.T. Barrett sets new Ohio State record career touchdown passes in the 58-0 victory over Rutgers.  He certainly looks to be on pace to break his own season record (2014) of 45 total touchdowns.  Aside from numbers, what sets Barrett apart from the other candidates is that he is having this success under center with the youngest team in college football.
  • Josh Dobbs proves his Heisman-like grit. The face of a rising program resonates well with Heisman voters.  Dobbs continues to be a center piece in exciting games. Today, Georgia and Tennessee gave college football fans more excitement in the last 20 seconds than Michigan and Wisconsin did in four quarters.
  • Thursday games DO matter. Just ask Greg Ward Jr.  Ward Jr. delivers another Heisman performance, tossing 3 TDs and running for another two.  More importantly, Houston is undefeated and have Louisville on their schedule in November.
  • Jake Browning ranks top-10 nationally in pass efficiency, yards per attempt, completion percentage and touchdowns.  Oh yeah, and he plays for 9th ranked Washington Huskies.
  • Mitch Trubisky finishes the day against Florida State with 31-of-38 for 405 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, and 1 rushing TD. The ACC now has a third Heisman contending QB.

Downgrades:

  • Christian McCaffrey:  Here at Heisman Watch we often use the expression “Heisman’s aren’t won in September.”  But can a Heisman be lost in September?  Read our analysis here.
  • No program has put more into a 2016 Heisman campaign than San Diego St.  Many people, including HeismanWatch.com, are rooting for Donnel Pumphrey.  Unfortunately, the ‘what-if’ scenarios fell apart after tonight’s loss to South Alabama. Pumphrey racked up 151 yards along with 1 TD.

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