We here at HeismanWatch.com came up with two brilliant scenarios we forecast on the Heisman horizon. Both with similar logic but contrasting conclusions. Let’s begin with a rather obvious observation that’s relevant in both scenarios: there’s no clear #2 contender. There hasn’t been for some time. Lamar Jackson has been everyone’s ‘front-runner’ for at least two months now. Since Jackson’s game/team has sputtered down the stretch, a window of opportunity has arisen into the Heisman world and now it’s time to enter the fray.
First Scenario: Since there isn’t a clear #2 picking up the pieces Jackson left at the 8 yard-line against Kentucky, many if not all voters will wait until after this weekend to decide who their 2nd and 3rd place finalists will be. (Remember, every voter can vote for up to three players in order, 1st, 2nd, 3rd) This weekend of conference championship games allows players one final opportunity, one final stage where the lights will be the brightest, to showcase a possible ‘Heisman moment’ that historically is so valuable during the campaign of previous winners.
In the first scenario, not playing in a conference championship will be Jackson’s demise. This weekend a hero emerges from the night and captures the hearts of voters around the country. That sounds cheesy but teams and (more importantly for this site) legitimate Heisman contenders are playing extremely important games against exceptional opponents. Much better than Kentucky mind you. Jake Browning plays Colorado. Baker Mayfield and Dede Westbrook play Oklahoma St. Deshaun Watson plays Virginia Tech. Jalen Hurts plays Florida. Lamar Jackson plays nobody. Donnel Pumphrey plays for a major piece of history as he’s only 218 yards shy of Ron Dayne’s all-time rushing record.
Let’s pretend you’re a voter and one of these players has a record setting game and Kirk Herbstreit pumps your melon with Heisman propoganda about said player for four hours on a Saturday night. You try to sleep on it, knowing you’ll turn in your ballot on Sunday only you can’t sleep because your mind recreates the magic you saw on Championship Weekend narrated by Herbstreit. “_______ ______ for Heisman.” -Kirk keeps whispering to you. You wake-up with an aching Heisman hangover and submit your ballot thinking, “there’s no way this guy is going to win anyways, a first place vote won’t hurt.” Only 869 other voters thought exactly like you and now, now ______ ______ is going to win the Heisman at the buzzer. *Anything is possible in 2016.
Scenario #2: Instead of looking at the Heisman race as lacking a #2 and especially after Jackson’s recent stumble, this weekend’s games will stir debate for a new Heisman favorite in every region of the country. Multiple #1’s will emerge in specific regions. Voters want to vote for familiarity and there’s a high probability each candidate has a good game this weekend. Think about this: Jake Browning, Donnel Pumphrey could win the Far West Region. Deshaun Watson could win the Mid-Atlantic Region. JT Barrett, Jabrill Peppers, Saquon Barkley will compete for first place votes in the Midwest Region. Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts, Dalvin Cook will all compete for first place in the South Region. Baker Mayfield, Dede Westbrook, and D’Onta Foreman will compete for first place in the Southwest Region. All these players have an argument for first place votes. As for the Northeast, there are no players representing that region. However, the Mothership does reside there and (this is important if you’re a conspiracy theorist) hosts the Heisman Award Ceremony as well as the television rights for the College Football Playoffs so there could be alternative motives there.
So if there are several #1’s not named Jackson, what’s the likely outcome? Glad you asked. For starters, Jackson is still going to receive plentiful of #1 votes. The real difference will be if Jackson is not #1, he is absolutely, positively without-a-doubt a unanimous #2 vote. I would be shocked if Jackson finishes third on any ballot. In 2008, Tim Tebow actually received 9 more first place votes than Sam Bradford. Bradford however, received far more 2nd place votes pushing him ahead of Tebow who ended up finishing third behind Colt McCoy. In this scenario Jackson doesn’t win in a landslide, but an overwhelming favorite due to the fact that he will undoubtedly go in the top-2 and everyone else may just receive first, third or no place votes.
In this scenario Lamar Jackson becomes the rightful heir to the Heisman throne and all peace is restored in the world.
As it stands right now the Heisman is still Jackson’s to lose, but he is doing nothing to help himself win this weekend.