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Heisman Candidate Watch after First Game

1. Sam Darnold – USC: Darnold and crew did not have as easy a game as people figured against Western Michigan. Darnold completed 23 out of 33 passes for 289 yards and no touchdowns. He threw 2 picks on the negative side. He did run for a touchdown, but he had a negative 6 yards rushing. The Trojans came back and won 49-31 after being behind a few times in the game. His next games will have to be better, or his Heisman lead will evaporate.

2. Lamar Jackson – Louisville: Last year’s Heisman winner put up very Heisman like numbers as his team barely got by Purdue in Indianapolis. Jackson threw for 378 yards and 2 touchdowns while completing 30 passes out of 46 attempts. Jackson got it going with his feet, too, running for 107 yards from 21 carries. Either Purdue is highly improved, or the Cardinals are not as good as they were early last season. The Boilermakers took them to the wire before losing 28-35.

3. Saquon Barkley – Penn State: The best running back in college football opened in style running for an impressive 172 yards and 2 touchdowns on 14 carries. He also caught 3 passes for 54 yards.

The 5-11, 230 Barkley with reported 4.3 speed also had a kick return for 20 yards. The normally slow starting Nittany Lions blew out Akron, 52-0.

4. Baker Mayfield – Oklahoma: The enigmatic Mayfield got off to a blistering start against UTEP when he completed 19 out of 20 passes for 329 yards and 3 scores. Mayfield is an excellent runner, but he was held to a negative 6 yards rushing against UTEP. It wasn’t a problem as the Sooners crushed the Miners 56-7. 19 out of 20 completions is impressive if you are playing catch in the front yard, so that’s quite an impressive stat for Mr Mayfield.

5. Mason Rudolph – Oklahoma State: Rudolph just looks like an NFL quarterback. He’s 6-5, 230 with all of the tools. That doesn’t mean he will win the Heisman, but he should be in the running. In his first game, he threw for 303 yards while completing 20 out of 24 passes. He also threw 3 touchdown passes.

6. Jake Browning – Washington: Last season, Browning sort of arrived on the scene after he started the previous season as a true freshman. The Washington Huskies had their hands full against a surprising Rutgers with a number of transfers helping them out. They prevailed 30-14, but it was

much closer than expected. Browning had an average night throwing 30 passes and completing 17 for 284 yards and 2 touchdowns.

7. Derrius Guice – LSU: In my book, Guice is one talented running back that runs super hard and is close in talent to Barkley. The Tigers beat BYU, but the Cougars held Guice somewhat in check. He did gain 122 yards on 27 carries and scored 2 touchdowns. He will have to pick it up to get into the Heisman Trophy talk.

8. Josh Rosen – UCLA: Rosen just jumped back into the mix with a beautiful come from behind win on a Sunday night. Rosen had a rough first half, but then he brought his Bruins from behind. He finished up with 491 yards and 4 touchdowns and the Bruins won 45-44.

9. Nick Chubb – Georgia: Surprisingly, Chubb came back for his senior season. The problem Chubb might have this season is splitting carries with the awesome Sony Michel who also came back for his senior season. Chubb ran for 96 yards and 2 touchdowns and Michel ran for 87 yards and another score. Chubb is 5-10, 225 with excellent speed and talent.

10. Jalen Hurts – Alabama: The former 4 star recruit surprised everyone by starting as a true freshman and driving all the other quarterbacks into transferring to other schools. Hurts is a strong

runner, that also possesses a strong arm. Hurts did not have a huge night against Florida State, only passing for 96 yards and a touchdown. He ran for 55 yards on 15 carries. Those numbers aren’t enough to win a Heisman, but he is responsible for the offense of the nation’s top ranked team.

11. JT Barrett – Ohio State: After a really slow start on Thursday night against Indiana, Barrett got it going and he threw for 304 yards and 3 touchdowns on 20 completions on 35 attempts. One of Barrett’s strengths is his running ability and he carried the ball 13 times for 61 yards and a touchdown. The 6-2, 220 senior could have a shot at the Heisman with a huge season.

12. Mark Walton – Miami: The Hurricanes played a really weak team, but with a brand new quarterback that was probably welcomed. Walton came through with 148 yards on 16 carries. The 5-9, 205 Walton also caught 2 passes for only 8 yards, but he can catch coming out of the backfield.

13. Trace McSorley – Penn State: Trace McSorley is just one of those guys that’s just a winner. That ‘it’ factor is way overused, but McSorley is one of those guys that just gets it done. He’s only 6-0, 195, but he has the arm strength and athletic ability to lead his team to wins. In his first game, he threw for 280 yards and he ran for 48. He threw 2 touchdown passes against 1 interception and he also ran for a touchdown.

14. Brandon Wimbush – Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish have had a lot of Heisman winners and Wimbush could be a candidate with a great season. In his first ever start, Wimbush threw for 184 yards and a couple of touchdowns. He did throw an interception, but he made up for it by running for 106 yards and another score.

15. Nick Fitzgerald – Mississippi State: A very strong runner, the 6-5, 230 quarterback had a decent passing day when he threw for 239 yards and 2 touchdowns. Always a threat to run, Fitzgerald only ran for 41 yards and another touchdown on 7 carries. Fitzgerald ran for over 1,300 yards in 2016 and more of that should be expected this season.

16. Quinton Flowers – South Florida: With 2 games already under his belt, Flowers has thrown for 398 yards and 4 touchdowns while running for 137 yards and a score. Flowers has little chance of winning anything resembling a Heisman, but he is one of the more exciting players in the nation.

17. Jake Bentley – South Carolina: The numbers may not show it, but this is an incredible young quarter who has made a huge difference for the Gamecocks. He only threw for 215 yards in their opening win over a tough North Carolina State. Bentley left high school a year early and has been an impact player since last season.

18. Jaylen Samuels – NC State: Jay Sam has been a weapon for the Wolfpack from his H-Back

position for the past few years. He has been their top receiver and play maker. In their opening loss to South Carolina, Samuels had 15 receptions for 85 yards and a score. He only got to carry the ball once, but he gained 9 yards. He’s a guy to keep an eye on, but he has no legitimate shot.

19. Shea Patterson – Ole Miss: Patterson could be a special talent. Patterson had a huge opening game throwing for an impressive 429 yards. He attempted 35 passes and completed 28 passes and 4 touchdowns. Patterson was the number one dual threat quarterback recruit in the country 2 years ago and he can run and pass very skillfully. Talented young player with a bright future.

20. Drew Lock – Missouri: Very long shot, but Lock had a huge game on opening day with 521 passing yards and 7 touchdown passes. They played a weak team, but that is still impressive. Lock is in his third season as a starter and has been improving slowly. We will see against stiffer competition.