Preseason hype is now a distant memory. It’s time to separate the pretenders from the contenders. The end of week 1 marks the beginning of a season long, grueling process evaluating who the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner will be.
We need to get a few unwritten rules out of the way before we begin. The Heisman is not a career achievement award. Whatever happened last year was last year. Previous season’s should carry no weight in the 2017 Heisman talk. Whatever preseason Heisman ranking list you might have read heading into this Fall, rip it up, clear the browser history, get rid of it. We have one week under our belt to recap who’s in the Heisman lead and that’s all. One week. Of course we can project who it could be down the line, but for now here’s:
HeismanWatch.com’s Week 1 Rankings
1) Josh Rosen – UCLA
Picture this: there are a slew of talented QB’s all having the same record and the same stats heading into the final weekend of the regular season and Josh Rosen leads UCLA to a 34-point come-from-behind victory using a fake-spike-TD-throw to beat a good Texas A&M team. That my friend would be the one Heisman moment that voters would lean towards when defining their Heisman winner. Game. Set. Match. That’s why Josh Rosen is #1 on our Heisman list after week 1.
The argument against Rosen right now is that UCLA is not a top-25 team. Generally Heisman winners are not only on top-25 teams, they are more often than not on the elite teams or they beat/compete with an elite team. Since 2008, six of the nine winners played in the National Championship game. The other three; Lamar Jackson, Johnny Manziel, Robert Griffin III, all beat a top-5 team. UCLA has top-25 talent, no doubt. They also have Stanford, Washington and USC still left of the schedule. Which means more Heisman moment opportunities for Josh Rosen.
2) Lamar Jackson – Louisville
It would be unfair to say we expect 350+ yards passing and 100+ yards rushing from Jackson every week because, like I mentioned before, 2017 is a new season and disregard anything that happened in the past. So with that said, this Lamar Jackson guy is off to a spectacular start. Check out these ridiculous stats: 30/46, 378 yards passing, two TD’s and he rushed for 107 yards in a 35-28 win against Purdue. I can’t imagine he can keep up this pace but he’d be deserving of the Heisman Trophy if he does.
3) Baker Mayfield – Oklahoma
Wow! In only one half of football, Mayfield was 19/20 for 329 yards and three TD’s. Did you read the part about doing that in just one half? Granted it was against UTEP, but Mayfield did what was expected and then some. But seriously, one incomplete pass? You can do better.
After this Saturday, the Heisman could very much be Mayfield’s to lose. #5 Oklahoma plays at #2 Ohio St. on Saturday night. In boxing a fighter has to beat his opponents to move up the ranks. Mayfield will go toe-to-toe (figuratively) with the Buckeye’s own Heisman hopeful, J.T. Barrett. Brace yourself for separation Sunday between these two depending on the outcome.
4) Saquon Barkley – Penn St.
In the land of the great quarterbacks a hero emerges from the backfield. That man is Saquon Barkley. With 172 yards rushing, two TD’s, and a blowout 52-0 win against a helpless Akron team, Barkley positions himself square in the middle of the Heisman discussion. As long as #4 Penn St. can remain a top-5 team week-in and week-out, Barkley will likely remain a top-5 Heisman candidate.
5) Mason Rudolph – Oklahoma St.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL ONLY!!! I can’t emphasize that enough, but bare with me. Mason Rudolph’s run towards a Heisman will be eerily similar to Ryan Leaf’s back in 1997. Back then, 6’5″ Leaf threw for over 3,900 yards and 34 TD’s. His Washington State team was not considered the best team in his own state, let alone the conference. But a win late in the season against rival Washington, a team that was ranked as high as #2 in the country propelled WSU to a conference championship and Leaf finished third in Heisman voting. The rest is history, college football history only.
Enter Mason Rudolph, the 6’5″ strong-armed QB is doing his best to lead his Oklahoma St. Cowboys to a BIG-12 title, especially if they get a win against in-state rival and current #5 team in the country, Oklahoma. Who knows, maybe an invitation to the Heisman Ceremony is in his future also. It helps when you start the season throwing 20/24 for 303 yards, three TD’s throwing and rushing for another, absolutely demoralizing their Tulsa opponent. At this pace, Rudolph is set to throw for over 3,600 yards and 36 TD’s. Those stats would get you third place in 1997. Just sayin’.
6) Derrius Guice – LSU
The only elements separating Guice from Penn St.’s Saquon Barkley right now, eight places in the team polls and 50 yards rushing. Otherwise it appears these two might be head and shoulders above the rest of the running backs in college football. Alabama has a couple guys that might disagree with that statement and they did play against an elite defense in Florida St., but Guice is going to be the man in LSU all season.
7) TaQuon Marshall – Georgia Tech
Despite already mentioning the top two running backs in college football as of right now, Marshall had more than twice as many rushing yards as Guice and more TD’s than Guice and Barkley combined! That’s right, the triple-option running QB was relentless in Georgia Tech’s season opener, a 41-42 OT loss against Tennessee. Marshall carried the ball an exhausting 44 times for 249 yards and five TD’s. If it wasn’t for a missed two-point conversion attempt in the latter part of double-overtime, Marshall would be top-3 on this list.
Drew Lock and Damarea Crockett – Missouri
Lock threw for 521 yards and seven TD’s. Crockett ran for 202 yards and two TD’s. Missouri scored 72 points. I don’t think they even had an opponent.
John Ursua – Hawai’i
Ursua caught 12 passes for 272 yards and one TD in a 38-35 Rainbow Warriors win @ UMass on Aug. 26. Absolutely insane numbers. Even more insane are the traveling numbers associated with the fact that HAWAII TRAVELED TO MASSACHUSETTS! If you had to point both places on a map you would have to do the ‘hang loose’ gesture with your fingers. For starters, it’s six hour time difference. The flight time is 9 hours and 49 minutes covering 5,015 miles. Pretty sure Hawai’i watched nine hours of film on how to get Ursua the ball as often as possible.