Did Lamar Jackson fumble away the Heisman?
One week after playing his worst game of the season, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson put together a game that may embody his entire Heisman campaign; big plays, big stats, but at the end of the day, a disappointing outcome. Jackson finished the game on Saturday with 281 yards passing, two TD’s, 171 yards rushing, another two TD’s on the ground, but three INT’s and one costly fumble with the game on the line certainly opened the door for Heisman debate.
How did it get to this point, Lamar Jackson had all but etched his name on the stiff-arming trophy weeks ago?
They say Heisman’s are won in November. Well, a Heisman winner hasn’t lost a game in November since Nebraska’s Eric Crouch in 1991. Not only has Jackson lost in November, he’s lost twice in back-to-back weeks to finish off the season. No Heisman winner has had that happen since Notre Dame’s Tim Brown in 1987. That year ND lost on the road to eventual National Champion Miami to end the season, not at home against Kentucky.
Let’s re-evaluate why we had Jackson in the ‘Heisman front-runner’ position to begin with: stats and team success.
Overall, Jackson still has insane numbers on the season. He’s totaled 51 TD’s (30 pass, 21 rush) and 4,928 total yards (3,390 passing, 1,538 rushing). Last player to finish with 30 pass / 20 rush TD’s in a season was Cam Newton in 2010. Newton won the Heisman that year, but Newton also played for an undefeated and eventual National Champion Auburn team. Jackson isn’t even playing in his conference championship.
At one point Jackson was leading the country in rushing yards and TD’s. Jackson is now 8th in yards and t-3rd in rushing TD’s. We thought Jackson would be near the top in passing yards and TD’s as well. Currently Jackson is 11th in passing yards and t-10th in passing TD’s. Overall, Jackson is 2nd in total yards and TD’s behind Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes. What felt as though Jackson would break every total yards and total TD’s record, appears he may not even finish first in the country this season.
For team success, Louisville (9-3) went from a potential playoff contender to possibly not playing a bowl game before the New Years. The Cardinals Strength of Schedule is mediocre at best. Before Saturday’s loss against Kentucky (7-5), Louisville had the 63rd SOS and the 61st SOS in respective rating systems. If we’re holding P-5 teams to a higher standard, than ranking that high on your SOS out of 64 P-5 teams isn’t exactly a good look.
With Louisville’s season over until after Heisman ballots are tabulated, there’s a lot of room for change in Heisman perception. An award where momentum is a vital influence on the outcome, Jackson seems to have lost some, but is it enough?
Many contenders still get one more shot on a big stage to impress Heisman voters, another commodity Jackson won’t share. This week we’ll break down all the scenarios as we approach conference championship weekend. For now, the Heisman just got a lot more interesting.