So how much did Louisville’s loss to Houston last week hurt Cardinals QB Lamar Jackson and his Heisman candidacy? I’d venture to say not too much.
Earlier this week Jackson was revealed to be a finalist for every quarterback award he’s eligible for this season. Granted some of those ballots may have been cast before the Houston game. But that’s impressive all the same. Houston certainly found a way to defend him effectively, holding him to 211 yards passing and 33 yards rushing, along with just one passing touchdown. That game was the third straight in which Jackson had less than 250 yards passing. But in the two games before Houston, Jackson had at least 153 yards rushing.
So this was Jackson’s first true “groaner” of a game this season. I’ve always held that every Heisman winner has that one game where they look mortal and the numbers back that up. Houston is Jackson’s dose of mortality. And I also believe that one game shouldn’t make or break a Heisman candidacy.
So with such an immense body of work behind Jackson to this point, if I HAD a Heisman vote Jackson would still be my No. 1. The situation behind him remains very much fluid.
We lost two more legitimate candidates this week. Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes has put up some serious numbers this year, but the Red Raiders will end the season with a losing record and voters are not going to be able to gloss over that. And if that’s my logic for dropping Mahomes, I must drop Texas RB D’Onta Foreman too. Foreman leads the nation in yards per game and hung 250 yards on Kansas last week. But the Longhorns will be no better than a 6-6 team and Heisman voters simply aren’t going to reward that with enough votes to get Foreman to the Big Apple.
Below is our Top 25 for this week. Along with the seven players I still consider to be legitimate candidates at this point, I’ve provided a note for each. They’re also in order of how I would vote, if I had a vote. The remaining players on the list have delivered some Heisman-worthy moments but, at this point, but are no longer legitimate candidates.
College Football America’s Heisman Top 25
- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
He will probably need a great game vs. Kentucky and another great bowl game to clear 5,000 yards in total offense. But the bowl game doesn’t matter to Heisman voting. My guess is he bounces back vs. Kentucky and renders any remaining debate about him winning the award moot.
- Donnel Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State
The newly-minted Doak Walker finalist is now No. 3 on the all-time NCAA rushing list. The two guys ahead of him — Ricky Williams and Ron Dayne — won the Heisman. Even if Pumphrey doesn’t win, I believe he earns an invite to New York City.
- Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
I can’t see a path for Watson to win this award. I think it’s 50/50 he gets an invitation to New York City at this point. But if Clemson wins the ACC title, his chances improve.
- Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Mayfield is getting some real momentum nationally as he’s been on a tear since the start of October. Some Heisman polls have him getting to New York City. I’m a bit skeptical. Had OU won either the Houston or Ohio State games, I’d be much more confident of Mayfield getting there. A win over Oklahoma State next week helps his case and I go back and forth between him and Watson as my No. 3.
- Luke Falk, QB, Washington State
Falk is going to clear 4,000 passing yards and his play has been impressive all season. But he lacks the national attention. He had the chance to get that this weekend in a huge Apple Cup matchup with Washington, but the loss on today probably took away his chance.
- Jake Browning, QB, Washington
Browning bounced back nicely against Arizona State last week so he hangs on for one more week. And the Huskies big win to clinch the Pac-12 North today sure didn’t hurt.
In the Top 25 but no longer serious contenders
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
D’Onta Foreman, QB, Texas
Jabrill Peppers, LB, Michigan
J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State
Davis Webb, QB, Cal
Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
Greg Ward Jr., QB, Houston
Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Chad Kelly, QB, Ole Miss
Skyler Howard, QB, West Virginia
Seth Russell, QB, Baylor
Jeremy McNichols, RB, Boise State
Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma
Eric Dungey, QB, Syracuse
Tommy Armstrong Jr., QB, Nebraska
Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
Jalen Hurts, QB, Alabama
Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma
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