Lamar Jackson Leads Heisman Finalists


Written by Andrea Adelson at ESPN.com

Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson are headed to New York as Heisman Trophy finalists, the top two players in the ACC now vying to be crowned the best player in the entire nation.

Whether you are a Louisville fan or a Clemson fan, or just a college football fan, it is worth taking a step back to truly appreciate this moment.

Only once before has the ACC had two finalists in New York in the same year: In 2013, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston won, while Boston College running back Andre Williams finished fourth.

Never before has the ACC had two players finish 1-2 in Heisman voting.

So, yes, this is a big moment for the players and their schools. But it is also a big moment for the ACC, giving the league some well-deserved bragging rights after so many lean years when it was difficult to come up with even one worthy Heisman contender, let alone two.

As football programs have gotten better, recruiting has gotten better and coaching hires have gotten better, so, too, have the players in the conference. The successes have not been contained to just one school, either. The recent finalists have represented four programs.

When the season started, though, nobody envisioned it would unfold in quite this way. Not even Jackson, who was entering his first year as the full-time starter. “I really didn’t even think about any awards,” Jackson said over the weekend in Orlando, where he picked up his ACC Player of the Year award.

Watson had the name, reputation, expectations and “Heisman favorite” scrawled next to his name. He was the one chosen to repeat as ACC Player of the Year in preseason polling among media members in July, picking up 164 out of 191 votes. Jackson got two.

But Clemson started off with some closer-than-expected games, and Watson did not put up the dazzling numbers many had come to expect. By Week 3, he admitted he needed to have more fun on the field and apologized for bringing negative energy to the team. Jackson, meanwhile, captivated the country with one touchdown binge after another and one highlight reel play after another – from the ‘Lamar Leap’ to making Florida State look like Ferris State in a 63-20 win.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Clemson Vs Louisville; Battle of Top QB’s

We’re a long ways away from the ACC Championship Game.

We’re a long ways away from the Heisman Trophy ceremony as well.

But, in a way, it feels as if they’re right around the corner.

That’s because Saturday’s Louisville-Clemson matchup will have significant and perhaps lasting ramifications on who wins the ACC — we knew that going into the season — but also who will be considered the best quarterback in the nation.

That last part seemingly came out of nowhere.

We knew Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson was going to be in the running for the Heisman Trophy this season, but Lamar Jackson has taken over the college football world with his absurd 25 touchdowns in four games. Jackson has spent so much time scoring, it’s amazing he found the time to throw three interceptions this year.

Jackson’s 25 touchdowns rank third nationally — amongst Division 1 teams. He’s scored one more touchdown than Alabama this season and 17 more than Stanford.

A third of the way through Louisville’s regular season, Jackson has already earned himself a spot in New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony. It’s his trophy to lose.

In fact, no one is even close to Jackson in the Heisman running right now.

That could change Saturday.

Watson entered the season as one of the favorites to win the Heisman — he led Clemson to the national championship game last season and his Tiger offense returned an abundance of talent around him.

But so far this season, the Tigers have been sluggish, particularly on offense. The disjointed performance (in a win) against Auburn in the season opener, followed by a down-to-the-wire win over Troy (yes, you read that right), dissolved the preseason confidence that followed the Tigers.

Last Thursday’s win over Georgia Tech, as dominant as it might have been, certainly didn’t re-establish that confidence.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Top Heisman Candidates for 2017

Written by Mark Schlabach at ESPN.com

Last year Derrick Henry crashed the quarterbacks’ Heisman House party. Now two bruising runners and one of the most versatile backs in the sport’s history will challenge two QBs for the Heisman.

DESHAUN WATSON

CLEMSON QB, JR.

2015 STATS 333-of-491, 4,104 yards, 35 TDs, 13 INTs; 207 carries, 1,105 yards, 12 TDs

Less than one year removed from a serious knee injury, Watson led Clemson to an undefeated regular season and a spot in the CFP national championship as a sophomore. Can he lead the Tigers to a title as an encore?

CHRISTIAN McCAFFREY

STANFORD RB, JR.

2015 STATS 337 rushes, 2,019 yards, 8 TDs; 45 catches for 645 yards, 5 TDs; 2 passing TDs; 2 return TDs

If McCaffrey didn’t play out West, he might have won the Heisman last season, when he became the first FBS player since 1996 to top 1,500 rushing yards, 500 receiving yards and 1,000 yards on kickoff returns in a single season.

BAKER MAYFIELD

OKLAHOMA QB, SR.

2015 STATS 269-of-395, 3,700 yards, 36 TDs, 7 INTs; 141 carries, 405 yards, 7 TDs

Mayfield has played with a sizable chip on his shoulder since not being offered a Big 12 scholarship out of high school, then earning and losing a starting job at Texas Tech before transferring. He’ll again be highly motivated after he was passed over as a Heisman finalist last season.

LEONARD FOURNETTE

LSU RB, JR.

2015 STATS 300 carries, 1,953 yards, 22 TDs; 19 catches, 253 yards, 1 TD

Fournette was a Heisman snub last season after a November swoon, including just 31 yards at Alabama. He still gained 1,953 yards with 22 touchdowns, but the Tigers will have to throw the ball more effectively to prevent him from fading down the stretch again.

DALVIN COOK

FSU RB, JR.

2015 STATS 229 carries, 1,691 yards, 19 TDs; 24 catches, 244 yards, 1 TD

Cook ran for 1,691 yards last season despite struggling with injuries that caused him to miss most of two games. If FSU is going to unseat Clemson in the ACC and return to the playoff, Cook will have to be the catalyst.

POSITION AWARDS

DAVEY O’BRIEN: TOP QB

Deshaun Watson Clemson Baker Mayfield Oklahoma J.T. Barrett Ohio State

DOAK WALKER: TOP RB

Christian McCaffrey Stanford Leonard Fournette LSU Dalvin Cook Florida State

To continue reading this article, click here.

Who’s In? Who Wins the Heisman?


Written by Daniel Taylor at Total Sports Live

With conference championship week now in the rearview, we know what the bowl games will be. We know what the playoff will be. We know it all. Are you happy? Did it work out how you thought? Well, four fan bases are happy. And, for the most part, it didn’t work out how most of us expected.

Clemson going undefeated wasn’t on most of our preseason guarantee lists. Oklahoma winning the Big 12 wasn’t something I was expecting, TCU and Baylor were shoe-ins. However, I did foresee Alabama and Michigan State winning the SEC and Big 10, respectively.

The Crimson Tide are top-notch every season. No surprise that they were once again the best of the Southeastern Conference.

Ohio State was the favorite in the Big 10, but I picked Michigan State. All along, I said that MSU was the top team in the Big 10 because they had the best quarterback in Connor Cook. Cook wasn’t the quarterback that beat the Buckeyes, but he still has shown this season that he is the best in the conference.

Oklahoma had a huge season from quarterback Baker Mayfield and that led them to the promised land. The Sooners are a very dangerous team with a lot of talent and it’s nice to see Bob Stoops back in the spotlight. The Sooners, in hindsight, have an awesome team. That being said, I don’t think they’re better than the team they’ll be playing in the opening round of the College Football Playoff.

That team, of course, is the Clemson Tigers. A team that feels like Ohio State of 2014 (hitting all cylinders a year early) is coming into the playoff as the only undefeated team. They have a big target on the back of their orange uniforms. But Deshaun Watson and company have been great at stepping up to the plate. Watson won’t win the Heisman this season, but he’s already launched his 2016 Heisman campaign as a frontrunner that will finish in the top-three this season.

We know who’s in the playoff, and we know that predictions are coming. I’ll save mine. So be sure to check back for that.

I’ll also have my bowl predictions (along with seemingly everyone else online) in the next few weeks.

But first, who wins the Heisman?

To continue reading this article, click here