This past Saturday night’s game between Clemson and Louisville lived up to the hype, thanks to the two quarterbacks.
Deshaun Watson of the Tigers, one of the preseason favorites for the Heisman Trophy, shook off 3 interceptions to throw for 306 yards and 5 touchdowns in a thrilling 42-36 victory. He added 91 yards on the ground, too.
However, even in defeat, it was impossible to take your eyes off Lamar Jackson of the Cardinals. The dual-threat dynamo threw for 295 yards, ran for 162 more and accounted for 3 total TDs. Had one of his receivers not come up short on fourth down, Jackson might have engineered a last-second win at Memorial Stadium.
The SEC is still barely on the radar at this point. With LSU running back Leonard Fournette missing his second game in four weeks, one of the original frontrunners for 2016 is most likely too far behind to compete now.
Here’s how I’m handicapping the Heisman race thus far. Jackson remains at the top, although his primary challenger has changed.
1. Louisville QB Lamar Jackson
Week 5: 27-44-295-1-1 passing, 31-162-2 rushing
2016:101-170-1625-14-1 passing, 92-688-14 rushing
Losing a one-score game in such a hostile environment has done little to change his standing as the leader through five weeks.
Not only is Jackson the No. 20 quarterback in the country when measured by passer efficiency rating (162.2), but he’s the nation’s No. 3 rusher with 688 yards. He has 14 passing touchdowns and 14 rushing touchdowns, which is insane.
He might be slightly built at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, but it doesn’t appear to matter since no defender can land a clean shot on him.
2. Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett
Week 5: 27-44-238-4-1 passing, 5-46-0 rushing
2016: 70-102-888-14-2 passing, 44-205-3 rushing
Steady as they come at the game’s most important position, Barrett directed a 58-0 annihilation of Rutgers this past Saturday.
With a sparkling touchdown-to-interception ratio of 14-on-2 on the year, he is now the fifth most efficient QB in America. Of the 31 passers nationally who have thrown double-digit TDs, he’s done it on the fewest attempts.
Barrett will have every opportunity to leave a lasting impression on voters. Ohio State closes the schedule with Michigan State and Michigan.
3. Florida State RB Dalvin Cook
Week 5: 29-140-3 rushing, 6-106-0 receiving
2016: 107-635-7 rushing, 19-286-0 receiving
After a bit of a slow start to the campaign, Cook has looked like the best back in the country the past two games.
Following a career-high 267 yards rushing in Week 4 at South Florida, he posted 246 total yards from scrimmage in a last-second loss to North Carolina in Week 5. It was actually his second game this season as a 100-yard receiver.
Florida State’s defense has been the root cause of its disappointing 3-2 start. Cook has done it all despite precious little support.
on the rise
North Carolina QB Mitch Trubisky
In the aforementioned upset of the Seminoles, Trubisky was just about flawless with 405 yards passing and 3 touchdowns through the air. In five outings, he’s completing 76 percent of his throws and is yet to be intercepted.
It’s not like Trubisky is dinking and dunking it, either. He has three consecutive 400-yard games and averages 9.8 yards per attempt.
Tennessee QB Joshua Dobbs
To make a case for Dobbs, you have to look beyond the numbers. He’s only the 48th-rated passer in America, but the Volunteers wouldn’t trade him for anybody. Instead of 5-0, they might be 2-3 or even 1-4 without him this season.
Voters love stories, and the Vols are one of the stories of 2016 thus far. Their story can’t be told without a healthy dose of Dobbs.
Houston QB Greg Ward Jr.
A converted wide receiver, Ward gets more comfortable day by day throwing passes instead of catching them. He’s coming off a 389-yard, 3-TD effort that resulted in a 42-14 beatdown of UConn. He ran for 65 yards and 2 scores, too.
The Cougars are sure to keep rolling until Nov. 17, when Ward and Co. will square off with Louisville (and Jackson) at home.
Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey
Held out of the end zone for the second week in a row, McCaffrey was bottled up by Washington in a 44-6 blowout that has everyone wondering about the Cardinal. Their do-it-all back was held to just 49 yards rushing and only 30 receiving.
While McCaffrey did account for 144 yards on 5 kick returns, his 28.8-yard average didn’t do much to flip field position.
Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett
Unavailable for Saturday’s win over South Carolina due to injury, Garrett wasn’t able to fill up the stat sheet against what has proven to be an anemic Gamecocks offense. His partner at defensive end, Daeshon Hall, registered 2.0 sacks.
Garrett has 3.0 sacks on the year. His stated goal was 20.0, which may have been Heisman-worthy. He won’t get anywhere near that figure.
Michigan LB Jabrill Peppers
The Wolverines’ 14-7 win over Wisconsin on Saturday was an old-fashioned slugfest. That’s why it’s so strange that Peppers wasn’t more of a factor. He was only credited with 2 tackles, and neither was behind the line of scrimmage.
No touches offensively. Two punt returns for 19 yards. One kick return for 14 yards. Voters are suckers for numbers, but Peppers didn’t have many.
Source: Saturday Down South