Lamar Jackson basically had the Heisman Trophy wrapped up last season by Oct. 2, playing so well in Louisville’s biggest games early in the season that a few stumbles late didn’t cost him.
Repeating will be difficult. Only one college football player has won the Heisman twice. But if Jackson does make a serious run at joining Ohio State’s Archie Griffin as a two-time Heisman winner, he will again have to make a lasting impression early.
The No. 14 Louisville hosts No. 3 Clemson on Saturday night, with a chance for both Jackson and the Cardinals to make an early season statement, just as they did last year.
Otherwise, the third weekend of the season is light on big matchups, but ripe for a few upsets with six ranked teams playing on the road against unranked teams.
Things to watch for during one of the weekends when things could get weird.
No. 3 Clemson at No. 14 Louisville.
The Tigers are coming off a dominant defensive performance against Auburn at home that included 11 sacks.
Seems like an obvious key to the game. Louisville’s offensive line struggles to protect Jackson. Clemson’s defensive line has a bunch of future early round NFL draft picks, such as Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins.
Don’t forget the other side of the ball, though. Last season Clemson had Deshaun Watson to counter Jackson’s brilliance in a 42-36 Tigers’ victory. If Jackson goes off again, can new Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant keep up?
Yes, Jackson, but anybody else?
How about Josh Rosen? The UCLA quarterback is off to a remarkable start that includes one of the great comebacks in college football history against Texas A&M in Week 1. The Bruins play a potentially tricky game against Memphis on Saturday that kicks off at 11 a.m. locally, but 9 a.m. PT. It’s the type of game that screams trap. If Rosen can help UCLA avoid it, he’ll enter Pac-12 play with some real Heisman buzz.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
2003 – The last time Tennessee beat Florida at the Swamp. Also the last time the Vols won in consecutive years against the Gators. No. 23 Tennessee tries to end both droughts Saturday in Gainesville against No. 24 Florida.
17 – Yards passing for Army (2-0) this season in victories against Fordham and Buffalo. The Black Knights are second in the nation in rushing at 417 yards per game, but the competition gets much tougher Saturday when they visit No. 8 Ohio State.
6-0 – Tom Herman’s record against ranked opponents in two seasons coaching Houston. Herman and Texas face No. 4 Southern California at a sold-out Los Angeles Coliseum.
4×100 – Stanford running back Bryce Love is the first Cardinal player to run for at least 100 yards in his first four career starts. The 19th-ranked Cardinals play at San Diego State, which just knocked off Arizona State of the Pac-12 last week.
UNDER THE RADAR
A game that is not getting a ton of attention nationally from fans and media, but certainly is from NFL scouts is Oregon at Wyoming.
Representatives from more than 20 NFL teams will be in Laramie on Saturday to see quarterback Josh Allen face a Power Five team for the last time this regular season. Allen is a big-time prospect, but still raw.
He had a blah game to start the season against Iowa, but now he’s at home and Oregon’s defense is still fairly accommodating. It’s a chance for Allen to put up some big numbers. The quarterback on the other side will draw attention, too. Ducks sophomore Justin Herbert might be another future first-rounder, though he can’t go pro until 2019.
HOT SEAT WATCH
Arizona State coach Todd Graham came into this season in need of a turnaround after two straight losing years. Early signs are not good after the Sun Devils were roughed up at home last week by San Diego State.
Now they go to Lubbock, Texas, for the return match of a wild game with Texas Tech last season. The teams combined for 123 points in an Arizona State victory. Another loss would leave Arizona State at 1-2 heading into Pac-12, where its first seven games are: Oregon, at Stanford, Washington, at Utah, USC, Colorado and at UCLA.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP
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