A handful of Heisman Trophy hopeful quarterbacks were in action in Week 3, and while some did themselves a lot of good with strong showings, a couple weren’t so lucky. Let’s take a look at who fell in which category.
These are the three contenders who helped their Heisman chances with strong performances:
Kelly Bryant, QB, Clemson
In his first-ever start on the road against a top conference rival, Kelly Bryant outplayed reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson and led Clemson to a dominant 47-21 win over Louisville. Bryant had his best passing performance of the season with 316 yards with a touchdown, and added 26 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
Bryant’s raw numbers — he has just two passing touchdowns and 162 total yards rushing through three games — still don’t scream “Heisman” but he’s seemingly getting better with each passing game. If he can start to pad his stats against some weaker opposition over the next few weeks while keeping Clemson undefeated, he should start to get more of the recognition he deserves.
Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
Rudolph didn’t come up against the most formidable opponent in Pitt. But the Cowboys quarterback simply made it all look so easy as he torched the Panthers for 497 yards—including a school-record 423 in the first half alone—and five touchdowns en route to a 59-21 Oklahoma State win. Rudolph now has an impressive 11:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio on the season, and is completing over 72 percent of his passes.
Rudolph should face a much stiffer test against TCU this weekend, but if he can continue to put up video game numbers like he did against Pitt, he should really be considered a top contender along with Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield early on in the Heisman race.
Nick Fitzgerald, QB, Mississippi State
Mississippi State’s shock 37-7 beatdown of LSU was a team effort, but quarterback Nick Fitzgerald’s performance was still notable. The junior accounted for 268 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Bulldogs to the upset. While those numbers weren’t eye-popping, just like his other two performances this season, they were certainly still worthy of putting Fitzgerald on the Heisman radar.
Fitzgerald will have a couple more opportunities to prove his Heisman credentials with big road games against top-15-ranked Georgia and Auburn looming in the next two weeks.
These are the three contenders who hurt their Heisman chances in their last game:
Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
While a loss to Clemson didn’t derail his Heisman hopes last year, Jackson could find it tougher to bounce back after this loss, where he completed just half of his passes and was limited to a mere 68 yards on the ground.
There’s a reason there’s only been one back-to-back Heisman Trophy winner in history: the defending champ has to be that much better than he was last year to convince voters to pick him over the current season’s hot new thing.
With a loss now on his resume, Jackson will have an uphill battle to get back in the good graces of voters. He’s more than capable of putting up video game numbers, though, and with Kent State and Murray State on the horizon, there’s still an outside chance he works his way back into the Heisman discussion.
Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
Guice’s Heisman push was already on thin ice after fairly underwhelming performances in LSU’s wins over BYU and Chattanooga. The Tigers back totaled just 224 rushing yards in 42 carries and four touchdowns in those games, pedestrian numbers considering the hype he came into the season with.
And after his paltry 76-yard showing against Mississippi State, Guice’s Heisman hopes look all but over. That is, unless he rebounds and reels off multiple 200-plus yard games like he did at the tail-end of last year. However, that Guice just hasn’t shown up thus far this season, and it’s increasingly looking like it’s not his year.
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
A loss to Memphis doesn’t spell the end for Rosen’s Heisman challenge, not with numbers that he’s been putting up. The UCLA quarterback is averaging 427 yards per game, as well as a nation-leading 13 touchdowns through three games.
Rosen had another gem with 463 yards and four scores against Memphis, but he did throw his first two interceptions of the year which turned out to be crucial. His first pick, which came as a result of him throwing sidearm on his back foot, was returned for a pick-six. And his second pick essentially sealed the game for the Tigers.
Rosen has done well to limit those types of mistakes this season, but he still has that bad habit in his game which could come back to bite him a few more times. But if he can make up for them by sheer yardage and touchdowns, then he won’t be fully out of the Heisman conversation as long as UCLA keeps winning.
Are there other Heisman contenders who caught your eye, positively or negatively? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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