Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…
The 2017 college football season is still in diapers, but now that we’re two weeks in, the Heisman race has gotten just a tad bit clearer. Week two gave the college football world some big games, bigger upsets, and even bigger payback stories (I see you Oklahoma). Where does that leave my top five Heisman candidates? Let’s get into it.
5. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville-
Season Stats: 55/85 (64.7%), 771 YD’s, 5 TD’s, 0 INT’s, 40 ATT’s, 239 YD’s (6.0), 3 TD’s
The truth is, Lamar Jackson looks better than last year. Yeah, that’s a scary thing to think about, but it doesn’t necessarily put a Heisman repeat in his near future. Jackson’s achilles heel will prove to be his team. The Louisville Cardinals, who did just enough last year to keep Jackson at the top of the Heisman voting, are not very good. I don’t think the committee will be eager to award their coveted trophy to Jackson for a second straight year unless he carries his team to an amazing season. That’s not going to happen. Clemson looks primed and ready to knock off the Cardinals this Saturday, and every loss they suffer will severely affect Jackson’s chances of repeating.
4. Sam Darnold, QB, USC-
Season Stats: 44/59 (74.6%), 605 YD’s, 4 TD’s, 4 INT’s
Lead your team to a king-sized conference victory, and you get to keep your spot despite two more interceptions. There was plenty to like about Darnold’s performance on Saturday, as he passed for 316 yards and 4 TD’s against in-state rival Stanford. There was also some things that weren’t pretty. Darnold continued his careless start to the season, completing two more passes to the opposing defense, as he did in week one. USC has an elite team, and Darnold will learn that his most important job is to not turn the ball over. If he can continue to sling it while limiting the interceptions, there will be no stopping his Heisman campaign.
3. Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State-
Season Stats: 28 ATT’s, 260 YD’s (9.3), 3 TD’s, 7 REC’s, 99 YD’s (14.1), TD
28 carries?! What the hell is going on James Franklin?! There is no reason why the far and away best RB in the country should have just 35 total touches through two games. My hope is that Franklin is simply saving Barkley’s full workload for bigger games. But damn, that better be the case, because I want to see this beastly man play. There’s nothing that Barkley can’t do, and it seems like he’s the only non-QB who has a real shot at this award. Once Big Ten play begins, we’ll get a close look at Barkley taking on some of the top defenses in the country. He’s just waiting to shine. I mean for goodness sake, the man is averaging almost a first downs worth of yardage on each carry.
2. Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA-
Season Stats: 57/84 (67.9%), 820 YD’s, 9 TD’s 0 INT’s
That outspoken kid out in L.A. is not going anywhere yet. Rosen didn’t play the full 60 minutes against Hawaii, but had a field day when he was in the game. The biggest positive for his Heisman case this week came on Monday afternoon. UCLA cracked the AP top 25, gaining more notoriety and respect as they steamroll towards Pac-12 play. Rosen’s going to put up giant numbers all year long, and will be firing TD passes on Sunday’s for years to come, but in order for him to win the Heisman, the Bruins have to dominate the Pac-12. I don’t know if that will be in the cards in 2017.
1. Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma-
Season Stats: 46/55 (83.6), 715 YD’s, 6 TD’s, 0 INT’s
Take that, Ohio State! After Mayfield and the Sooners got embarrassed on their home turf by the Buckeyes last year, they got their revenge in Columbus on Saturday. Mayfield was simply fantastic, shredding the Buckeyes stout defense in the second half. His ability to avoid pressure while keeping his eyes downfield reminds me a lot of Russell Wilson. No, I’m not saying that Mayfield will have Wilson-level success in the NFL just yet, but the NCAA doesn’t seem to have an answer for this guy. I picked the Sooners to make the Playoff before the season started. If they get there, not only will I look smart, but Baker Mayfield could very well be a Heisman Trophy winner.
Photo Credit: Sporting News