We have more months left in the season than we have weeks played, yet we are starting to see some separation in the Heisman ranks. The Heisman is generally a quarterback-favoring award and this season is no exception. Quarterbacks are dominating the Heisman discussion. Which probably means it would be an excellent season to excel in another position. At the end of the year, if all quarterbacks have similar resume’s, perhaps a dominating defensive player or a record-setting wide-receiver will look a little more intriguing to voters. Here’s what Vegas thinks as far as the Heisman favorites right now (courtesy of bovada.lv):
Our current rankings will be different from these voting odds. We are ranking them as to where they rank today, not projecting where they’ll finish. Although it’s unavoidable to assume certain players won’t play better and rise up the rankings in the near future. So after two weeks, here’s where we stand with:
HeismanWatch.com’s Week 2 Rankings
1) Lamar Jackson
Until someone rips the belt away from him, the reigning Heisman Champion appears destined to be the first to repeat since Archie Griffin in 1974 & 1975. Through two games in 2017, Jackson is averaging 385.5 passing YPG, 119.5 rushing YPG, and responsible for four TD’s per game. Jackson’s 2016 averages: 272.5 passing YPG, 120.8 rushing YPG and responsible for 3.9 TD’s per game. Safe to say that if Jackson is duplicating his statistically absurd Heisman-winning season from a year ago, the trophy is his to lose.
Jackson’s first great test comes this Saturday as the defending National Champs come to town. The #3 Clemson Tigers march into Louisville in what will be an outstanding clash of contrasting strengths. In 2016, these teams met in what was arguably the ‘game of the year.’ Jackson threw for 295 yards, ran for 162 yards, accounted for three TD’s, and established himself as the most exciting player in college football albeit in losing effort, 42-36.
This go around might be more of a challenge. The Tigers are allowing just 40 passing YPG. They are coming off a school record 11-sack game against the Auburn Tigers. Rushing wise, the Tigers are allowing just 1.83 yards per carry. This just might be Jackson’s best test his entire career. If Jackson passes (or rushes) with flying colors, he might as well book his flight to the Heisman Ceremony in December because only one top-25 team remains on the schedule, #11 FSU and their missing their starting QB Deondre Francois for the season.
*Heisman Note: If the game doesn’t go as planned for Jackson, a few names might pop into the Heisman discussion from the team in orange and purple. In the few games Jackson appeared human in 2016, LSU and Houston, both teams were strong defensively especially in their front four applying pressure without having to blitz. Against Houston, I thought DL Ed Oliver was the best player on the field that day, not Jackson. Clemson has two defensive lineman that can cause serious trouble in front of Jackson. Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence are two of the biggest, baddest dudes in the country. A combined 12’9″ – 650 lbs of scaries for any quarterback anywhere in the world.
It also wouldn’t be surprising if, with all due respect, a poor man’s Lamar Jackson by the name of Kelly Bryant came out of the game with a steady dose of Heisman pub. He’s similar in mold/style as his predecessor, Deshaun Watson in the sense that he’s just as dangerous throwing and running plus he’s quarterbacking a top-5 team while putting up great stats. The pressure will be on Jackson to thrive, but Bryant might be the talk of the post-game if his numbers stack up and his team comes out victorious. Either way this game is going to be AWESOME!!!
2) Baker Mayfield
*Rant Beginning* Personally, I love the post-game flag spike in the middle of the O after last Saturday’s huge win at Ohio State. In today’s day & age, someone could sneeze in public and possibly offend somebody else, subsequently needing to offer an apology. Clearly Mayfield’s action was going to incite more of a reaction than a gesundheit, but rivals are good for sports. Hatred is a form of passion and passion is what fuels sports fanatics and their participants. Of course hatred is not a great perspective to have in every aspect of life, but at the end of the day, sports is about winning a game, losing a game, and then doing it all over again another time. It’s okay to dislike or root for a guy based on extracurricular activity following the outcome of a play or game. It’s the ol’ sports analogy; if you don’t like someone celebrating a TD, homerun, slam dunk or goal, then don’t let them do it in the first place. *Rant Over*
Unfortunately for Mayfield, I don’t think everyone voting on the Heisman agrees with me. His play on the field can take him all the way to the stage of the Heisman Ceremony, but will his actions like this turn voters off, who knows. For now Mayfield is the catalyst behind the biggest victory of the young season, that win at then #2 Ohio State. A game in which Mayfield was absolutely sensational in. For the year, Mayfield has only played six quarters so far in 2017. So his four-quarter averages look like this: 476.7 passing YPG and four TD’s per game. Mayfield is on pace for a monster season and a third trip to NYC appears inevitable.
3) Josh Rosen
The Rosen One keeps rolling. A preseason Heisman favorite in 2016, it appears UCLA QB Josh Rosen needed a hole to dig himself out of, and after being down 34 points in the home-opener against Texas A&M, Rosen has been unstoppable. The Bruins have scored TD’s on 12 of their last 14 drives. Last Saturday against Hawai’i, Rosen had more TD passes (5) than incompletions (3). Now that UCLA cracked the top-25, we can officially make Josh Rosen a serious Heisman contender. After all, most Heisman winners are affiliated with the best teams in the country. All winners in recent memory have either been apart of a top-5 team OR have beaten a top-5 team at some point of the season. UCLA still has #6 Washington and #4 USC still on the schedule, but don’t look beyond their game at Memphis this weekend. Everything about it spells trap game before having to play @ #19 Stanford. UCLA is without several defensive starters and since Rosen has decided to turn on his ‘defense destroy mode,’ the Bruins can no longer sneak up on anybody as an underdog.
4) Saquon Barkley
It helps to be the guy who’s different than everybody else. Like I mentioned before, the Heisman is a quarterback-heavy award and this season there are outstanding quarterbacks all over the country. Which is why I love a player like Saquon Barkley more than any other year to win the Heisman. Barkley is a top-1 running back playing on a top-5 football team in a top-5 conference. Is Barkley the best offensive player in the country? I think that one guy in Louisville probably has a stronger argument. Is Barkley the best running back in the country? I feel comfortable saying yes, yes he is. Of course no disrespect to any other RB in the country, if anything I’m providing fuel to prove me wrong so you’re welcome.
Barkley is averaging 130 rushing yards per game at 9.3 YPC clip and has three rushing TD’s. Barkley is also 2nd on the team with 99 receiving yards and one 46-yard score, the longest for anybody on the team. There’s a popular sports saying made famous by I believe Dan Patrick from old Sportscenter, “you can’t stop him, you can only hope to contain him.” I don’t think anybody can contain Barkley. He’s going to get the ball as either a running back, receiver or kick returner and he’s a threat to score every time he touches it.
Barkley should put up Heisman-winning type numbers at years end. The question will be where will Penn St. be as far as rankings are considered at that time. Barkley is on pace for 1,560 rushing yards and 18 TD’s, 534 receiving yards and six TD’s (not including if PSU plays in the BIG-10 Championship). Since 2000, three running backs have won the Heisman (and yes, in 2005 Reggie Bush won the Heisman). All three were on National Championship contending teams heading into Heisman voting. Mark your Heisman calendars…wait, you don’t have a Heisman calander? Go make a calendar then mark these dates:
- October 21st, Penn State vs #7 Michigan
- October 28th, Penn State @ #8 Ohio State
- October 29th, we’ll know if the Heisman is Barkley’s to lose
5) Mason Rudolph
Run, run Rudolph all the way to the Heisman Ceremony. That was dumb but I needed something to grab your attention because if you haven’t noticed, Oklahoma State has a really, really good quarterback in Mason Rudolph. How good, you ask? Really, really good. He’s the all-time school passing leader in fact. On the year, Rudolph is averaging 319 passing YPG, completing 72.6% of his passes and has eight total TD’s (six passing, two running). Rudolph is blessed with having one of the best receivers in college football, James Washington and a slew of other dangerous wideouts at Rudolph’s disposal. The #9 ranked Cowboys are in a great position to make a run at in-state rival Oklahoma and a BIG-12 Championship. Rudolph is in a great position to dominate football games no matter the competition, he’s 6’5″ and has a warhead for an arm. His head coach has a mullet. What’s not to like about this team?
HeismanWatch.com’s Honorable Mention List
Sam Darnold: Darnold is right there. The 42-24 win against #14 Stanford was impressive, 21/26 for 316 yards and four TD’s. Outside of Stanford, the schedule has some prestigious opponents but the rankings don’t match the history. The Trojans are -16.5 point favorites this weekend against Texas. They’ll probably be double-digit favorites at #21 Washington St., Utah, at Notre Dame, at Colorado, and possibly UCLA to close out the regular season. That’s not Darnold’s fault, well actually a large point spread favoring USC is very much because of him, but I do think the Strength of Schedule may impact his Heisman candidacy in comparison to other quarterbacks who play against top-5 competition such as Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield.
Jalen Hurts: Alabama has reserved seats to the Heisman Ceremony. This year it’s likely to be occupied by QB Jalen Hurts. His stats won’t blow you away in comparison to other QB’s around the country. Something about being the leader and a great player on the best team will at the least, keep you in the Heisman discussion each and every week.
Royce Freeman: Is Oregon back? With two offensively impressive wins against traditional football powerhouses Southern Utah University and Nebraska, are the Ducks flying that unstoppable O like years past? The Ducks are averaging 59.5 points per game. Whom do we owe this credit to? Look no further than SR RB Royce “Da 5’11″” Freeman. With an average of 151.5 rushing yards and three rushing TD’s per game, it’s an easy observation when saying that Freeman is really good. And if you know anything about the Ducks in the past four years, you know this isn’t a fluke. In fact, Freeman is college football’s current active rushing leader. Keep an eye on this Duck especially if Oregon continues to have success against more college football powerhouses.
HeismanWatch.com’s Less-Than-Honorable Mention List
JT Barrett: Over his last 15 games, the dual-threat QB has thrown for over 300 yards twice and run for over 100 yards three times. Lamar Jackson has six – 300 yard passing games and ten – 100 yard rushing games over that same span. As good as Barrett is, I don’t think he’s Heisman potential. His Heisman hype is very much the bi-product of playing QB for Ohio State and being the QB for Urban Meyer. It doesn’t help when another Heisman candidate comes into your house and throws twice as many yards as you do and victoriously spikes his flag on the middle of your school’s field.
Jarrett Stidham: A fantastic opportunity squandered last Saturday night when Stidham and the Auburn offense couldn’t get anything going against Clemson. Only 79 passing yards and a dozen more bumps and bruises after suffering through 11 sacks at the paws of the Tigers defense. It will be interesting if there is any confidence in the offensive line moving forward for Stidham and how that might translate into his play.