Lamar Jackson is trying to be the first player since Tim Brown in 1987 to win the Heisman after losing their final two games. N.D. was a top-10 team all season before a one point loss @ Penn St. and a 24-0 blowout to eventual National Champion, Miami. Jackson and Louisville lost @ Houston and at home against Kentucky to conclude this season. Losing so late in the season in regards to the Heisman is intriguing because of the correlation between momentum and timing has with recent winners of the stiff-arming trophy.
Deshaun Watson will look to become the first quarterback to win the Heisman after throwing 15 or more interceptions since BYU’s Ty Detmer in 1990. Watson’s 15 interceptions are the third highest in the FBS this season. Detmer threw a meager 28 interceptions. Detmer’s grand total for his Heisman campaign still rank 5th most for any quarterback at any D1/FBS school all-time for a single season. Wonder how Detmer even won the Heisman? He set the (at the time) the all-time single season passing yards record (5,188) and beat #1 Miami, propelling BYU to hang around the top-10 the rest of the year. For Watson, only Florida’s Danny Wuerffel (13) in 1996 had more than 11 interceptions and won the Heisman since Detmer’s dubious achievement.
Baker Mayfield looks to become the first player since Reggie Bush in 2005 to win the Heisman with a teammate as a finalist (Matt Leinart). Mayfield and teammate, Dede Westbrook are actually the first QB/WR duo from the same team to be a finalist in Heisman history. Seems strange that multiple QB/RB duos have made the trip to NYC but not one QB/WR duo until now. An interesting stat working in Mayfield’s favor is that he leads the country in yards/attempt and QB rating. Why is that important? Well, 6 of the last 7 Heisman winners either led the country in the same category or were no worse than 2nd.
Dede Westbrook will look to become the first wide receiver to win the Heisman since Michigan’s Desmond Howard in 1991. Similar to Westbrook, Howard was more than a WR. Both are/were dynamic in the return games. Howard averaged 27.5 yards on kick returns and 14.1 yards on punt returns. Westbrook averaged 28.4 yards on kick returns and 19.8 yards on punt returns. Both gentlemen returned at least one to the house. Odd that an offensive skill position that carries so much value on the professional level, rarely if ever has a Heisman winner. In fact, you’re as likely to find a defensive player with a Heisman attached to him than a wide receiver.
Great segue to our final finalist.
Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers is looking to become the first ‘primarily’ defensive player to win the Heisman since fellow Wolverine Charles Woodson in 1997. Leave it to Michigan to send the inconspicuous positions into the Heisman. If Peppers had an accurate position title it would be ‘inconspicuous’ or ‘utility’ player. Like Woodson, Peppers does way more than defend against the run game. Peppers has three rushing TD’s, a couple receptions, a handful of sacks, an INT, a lot of tackles especially for a loss, 570 yards in the return game and a punt return TD. Woodson had a punt return for a TD, a couple receiving TD’s, a rushing TD, a 28-yard pass completion, and seven INT’s. Yeah, there’s some subtle similarities there.