College football’s official opening weekend is underway, and these are the following teams/players/coaches the media can’t stop frothing about:
- Sam Darnold
- Sam Darnold vs Josh Rosen
- Sam Darnold vs Josh Rosen vs Josh Allen
- Alabama vs FSU, Nick Saban taking Alabama back to the playoff
- Florida has 10 players suspended and the SEC is fading
- Can Jim Harbaugh finish above 3rd place in his own division?
- Hey, Texas and Tom Herman could have something!
- Saquon Barkley, he’s really awesome!
- Clemson and Dabo are going back to the playoff, probably!
- Ohio State is loaded and is probably playoff-bound, too
For some reason, Lamar Jackson, the defending Heisman Trophy winner, has been completely ignored. Darnold is projected as the All-American and the #1 pick. In a sport dominated by coaches and desperate for stars to hang around for multiple years, Lamar Jackson is back, he totaled over 5,000 yards and 51 TDs last year … and he can’t get in the conversation.
My man Joel Klatt left Jackson off his list of Top 5 QBs this season!
Jackson’s credentials don’t need to be repeated in-depth – three games passing for over 350 yards; five games rushing for over 150 yards – and no, this has nothing to do with his race or that of college football writers, as one newspaper insinuated.
My guess? Jackson took a big lead en route to the Heisman last year, but faded down the stretch. The Cardinals lost their final three games, and Jackson threw just three TDs while tossing three interceptions in those contests. But his body of work had been so good, he had earned the Heisman. But the sheep remember what they saw most recently.
Jackson’s slide coincided with Darnold’s rise, hence the love for the “new guy.” Darnold also performed his best on the biggest non-playoff stage, the Rose Bowl. Two days earlier, Jackson had stunk up the joint against LSU in an unwatchable Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Eve.
And lastly, the NFL does matter. Darnold is a prototypical pocket QB who is a strapping 6-foot-4 and a pro team will building their franchise around him this time next year. Jackson is an elusive QB who only completed 56 percent of his passes and was dominant last year because of his legs and escapability.
Thing is, Jackson’s going to be right back in the Heisman mix come October. If Louisville gets by Clemson on September 16th, the Cardinals might be undefeated heading into Florida State on October 21st.
Jackson’s probably the smartest bet to win the Heisman because Darnold living up to the hype will be damn near impossible (especially against that schedule), and Jackson really only has to beat Clemson or Florida State to potentially be in the driver’s seat come November.