Heisman Forecast: Lamar Jackson chasing this figure of Heismans past
There is a downside to Lamar Jackson's epic season: it has made the task of analyzing this Heisman Trophy race an almost monotonous process.
Outside of a dramatic collapse over the next three games, it seems almost a given that the Louisville quarterback will be holding the trophy Dec. 12. None of that means Jackson isn't chasing anything, it's just that the measuring sticks that remain for the sophomore aren't his contemporaries.
He's simply chasing the past.
More precisely, with the sixth-ranked Cardinals needing some serious help to get into the College Football Playoff picture, Jackson is in a position where he could challenge one of the most dominant wins for a player whose team wasn't in the national title conversation.
In 1998, the start of the BCS era, Texas' Ricky Williams won with 85.2 percent of the vote, and 56.5 percent more than the second-place finisher, Kansas State's Michael Bishop.
With Jackson still on pace for over 5,200 yards -- nearly 400 more than Oregon's Marcus Mariota when he won in 2014, setting the record for a winner at the time of voting -- the stage could be set for a landslide win. That's if he's not impacted by the Cardinals likely being out of the playoffs.
Don't think that couldn't happen. The year Florida Tim Tebow became the first player to have 20 rushing and 20 passing TDs in the same season -- and a campaign in which the Gators didn't play in a BCS game -- his margin of victory was just 9.17 percent.
We'll get into this week's Risers and Sliders in a moment, but here's a real-time look at this voter's virtual ballot, one with some movement as Clemson's Deshaun Watson takes a step back in the rankings.
After torching Cal to the tune of 378 yards and tying a season-high with six touchdowns, Browning gets a boost with the first of two ranked opponents over the last three games in the regular season. Add in a likely date with No. 12 Colorado and it could be a strong closing stretch for the nation's pass efficiency leader. But first, he'll get a crack at a ho-hum pass defense with No. 20 USC. The Trojans are 55th in that category.
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RISERS: 2. Deshaun Watson, QB Clemson, Jr.
His numbers in the rout of Syracuse weren't spectacular -- he threw for 169 yards, but attempted just 19 passes and tossed a pair of TDs to go along with a rushing score -- but wasn't asked to shoulder much of a load. Pitt has the lowest-rated pass defense in the ACC and 126th in the nation. Look for some big passing stats out of Watson in this one.
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RISERS: 3. Dalvin Cook, RB Florida State, Jr.
The Seminoles face Boston College this week, which statistically has one of the country's top rush defenses in allowing 106.6 per (eighth in FBS). That being said, Louisville just ran for 210 against the Eagles and Clemson burned them for 230 on the ground on Oct. 7. Cook coming off of his worst production (65 yards and a TD on 18 carries) since Sept. 17, should be in line for another 100-yard-plus day here.
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SLIDERS: 1. D'Onta Foreman, RB Texas Jr.
The Power 5 leader in rushing yards with 1,446 on the season, Foreman just trampled Texas Tech for 341 yards and three TDs and over his last two games has a stunning 591 yards. No. 16 West Virginia isn't a force defensively -- ranking 46th vs the rush and 86th against the pass -- though it has managed to keep opponents out of the end zone in allowing 20.6 points per game (20th). The Mountaineers have also done a good job against Big 12 rushers, with just TCU's Kyle Hicks going over the 100-yard mark.
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SLIDERS: 2. Jabrill Peppers, LB Michigan, Jr.
If the Wolverines get to the playoff, he's going to New York. It's as simple as that. But he wasn't otherworldly vs. Maryland (five tackles, two rushes) and was on the field for four snaps offensively. Not to downplay his overall impact, but if Peppers is going to make a bigger push, he has to come up big over these final games vs. Iowa (this week), Indiana, and especially vs. No. 5 Ohio State. That's a tough assignment for a guy who has limited opportunities with the ball in his hands.
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SLIDERS: 3. Jalen Hurts, QB Alabama, Fr.
He ran for 114 yards vs. LSU and has three 100-yard games on the season. Being the most logical choice on the Crimson Tide roster helps, but when other candidates (Jackson, Watson, and Ohio State's J.T. Barrett) are doing the same thing at arguably a higher level, it's hard to gain much momentum. Hope is dwindling for the SEC's best bet at keeping its streak of finalists alive.