The Heisman Runaway

Lamar Jackson. Courtesy photo from UofL.

Lamar Jackson. Courtesy photo from UofL.

In last week’s 52-7 road rout of Boston College, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson rushed for 185 yards and three touchdowns and passed for 231 yards and four more scores. He did all this while sitting out the last two series of the second quarter and the entire fourth quarter.

In any other season in the history of Cardinal football, this single performance would be the talk of the town for the entire week. Basketball season starting Friday? I can’t get over what Lamar Jackson did in Chestnut Hill. Election madness? That hole he found on his final touchdown run – I don’t think there’s another player in the world who could do that. Your entire family is leaving you and moving to Moscow? He put up all those ridiculous passing stats, and he only played two and a half quarters and only attempted 17 passes!

It was a show that left Boston College Head Coach Steve Addazio, who’s been an FBS football coach for three decades, tossing out some high praise in his postgame press conference.

“He’s unbelievable,” Addazio said of Jackson. “The guy is electric running the football and he has a tremendous arm with unbelievable weapons down the field. I mean, this guy is as good as anybody I’ve seen, and I’ve seen some pretty good ones.”

Jackson’s effort earned him the Walter Camp National Player of the Week Award for a third time this season, a feat that no player before him has ever accomplished.

Perhaps the craziest thing about what Lamar Jackson did in his team’s eighth win of the 2016 season has been the local and national reaction to it. While Addazio understandably played up the performance because it was his team on the receiving end of it, the rest of the country’s response was something along the lines of, “Well, there goes Lamar again.”

How amazing is that? No one could have predicted before the season that any player in college football would be able to give this type of effort in early November and have the national reaction be so blasé. That’s the situation Lamar Jackson has played himself into.

Jackson has started nine games this season, and in seven of them, he has produced at least 400 yards of total offense. He has accounted for at least five touchdowns in five different games this season and at least seven in three. He’s already the first Louisville quarterback ever to rush for 1,000 yards in a season, and despite only playing a full four quarters in three games, he has totaled nearly 1,000 more yards than any individual player in the big, bad SEC.

With one more rushing touchdown, Jackson will join Johnny Manziel, Tim Tebow and Cam Newton as the only players in FBS history to throw and rush for 20 scores in a single season. In a little over a month, he figures to join that trio as members of another exclusive club as well.

In 10 weeks, Jackson has gone from Heisman Trophy darkhorse to the man who has taken all the drama out of the race to win the highest-profile individual award in all of American sports. There are some who are now advocating that Jackson be the only player invited to the Heisman ceremony and that ESPN should turn its annual television coverage into a one-hour tribute to the remarkable season he’s had. That won’t happen, but it might as well.

According to one of the most prominent sports books in Las Vegas, Jackson will head into this weekend’s game against Wake Forest as the 1/30 favorite to win the Heisman. That means if you wanted to make $100 off successfully wagering on Jackson to win the award, you would have to bet $3,000.

All these numbers represent the once inconceivable world that Lamar Jackson has created. He is currently on pace to rack up more total yards than any of the 79 players to win the Heisman before him and to account for more touchdowns in one season than any player in the history of college football.

As difficult as it may be, the next time Jackson puts up numbers in a game that would have warranted a parade in any other year, let’s try and react with something a bit stronger than “there he goes again.” VT