You know you've truly made it in college football when Michael Vick refers to you as the future. During his tenure at Virginia Tech, Vick was carving up defenses and making it look easy. While it's only three games into this college season, Lamar Jackson is looking like the second coming. He has posted video-game like numbers, and his dismantling of the No.2-ranked Florida State Seminoles has catapulted him to the top of the Heisman Trophy race.
While we all know the Heisman Trophy isn't won in September, it can most certainly be lost. That is the case for preseason favorites like Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, Florida State running back Dalvin Cook and quarterback Chad Kelly from Ole Miss. Inconsistent play over the first three games of the season has these three dropping quickly down the list.
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I am going to add a new feature to this article and odds and stat recaps. I will provide a "Boom or Bust" rating out of five based on the player's upcoming opponents. This will allow you to better understand if a Heisman candidate will exceed or fall short of expectations.
Thanks to our friends at Bovada we have some value on everyone not named Lamar Jackson.
Lamar Jackson (-200)
Boom Potential: 3 out of 5.
By now we all know who Lamar Jackson is. He's the quarterback who is leading Louisville's offensive juggernaut that has now scored more than 60 points in each of their first three games. It's one thing for Jackson to post video-game like numbers against extremely inferior opponents, but his performance against a No. 2-ranked team has everyone running to praise him. He was responsible for five total touchdowns (one passing and four rushing) and accounted for 362 total yards of offense. He's the clear favorite.
In Week 4, Jackson and Co. travel to Huntington, West Virginia, for a date with the Marshall Thundering Herd. The Herd are coming into this game after getting torched for 65 points against Akron. I have no reason to believe Louisville can't do the same thing and have Jackson continue to produce. However, two things worry me about this spot for Louisville. Marshall's run defense has been very good in its first three games. They've held opponents to less than 100 yards rushing per game. The other factor could be that Louisville has Clemson on deck in Week 5, which makes this a potential look-ahead spot to next week's playoff elimination game.
Christian McCaffrey (+550)
Boom Potential: 3 out of 5
I can assure you one thing - McCaffrey will remain on this list for the rest of the season. Fresh off his bye week, he racked up 260 all-purpose yards as his Cardinal beat USC once again. Any 200-yard performance is worthy of a shout out, but this is now average for him. He's recorded 12 200-yard games in his last 13.It's no surprise that he leads the FBS in all-purpose yards per game (235), but he also found the end zone in four straight dating back to last year. Add 100 yards rushing in 13 of his last 14 games to the resume, and it's clear to see why McCaffrey will be a mainstay on this list.
That being said, however, Stanford faces a brutal two-week stretch with road games at UCLA and at Washington. UCLA is not the greatest team in the world, but they are coming in fresh off a solid road win against BYU. UCLA averages 214 passing yards against and 133 rushing yards against, which means they can play a bit of defense. This game will be the first road game for QB Ryan Burns, which means the game plan will be simple - Get the ball to McCaffrey. This game should be as close as Las Vegas is predicting (spread is -3), but McCaffrey should continue racking up the yardage.
J.T. Barrett (+600)
Boom Potential: 5 out of 5
I feel as if J.T Barrett will often be the one player that is overlooked in this Heisman Race despite turning in one quality performance after another. Just last week we saw Barrett lead the Ohio State Buckeyes to a 3-0 start thanks in large part to a four-touchdown performance against a previously highly-touted Oklahoma Sooners team. Barrett also added 74 yards on the ground and didn't turn the ball over once.
Ohio State has a bye in Week 4 to freshen up, but their Week 5 matchup sees them hosting Rutgers, which has all the makings of a blowout win. Rutgers has allowed 187 passing yards and 178 rushing yards against per game over their first three games. However, they've played Howard and New Mexico - teams that aren't even close to the talent level of an Ohio State. Rutgers will be severely outmatched, and the J.T Barrett "boom" potential is looking great.
Donnel Pumphrey (+2500)
Boom Potential: 5 out of 5
It's hard to imagine leaving the rushing leader off of this list. Unfortunately for Pumphrey, he's not very well known. The San Diego State running back has 599 rushing yards through three games; 150 better than the next-best rusher. He's tied for third in rushing touchdowns with seven and has recorded back-to-back games of 200-plus, including a 281-yard torching versus California in Week 2. Thanks to Pumphrey, the Aztecs are 3-0 and sitting pretty in the Mountain West.
Up next for Pumphrey is a Week 5 date with South Alabama on Oct. 1. They have a bye in Week 4, which means he will be fresh to face a defense that allows 266 rushing yards per game. Barring a complete blowout and backups being put in for mop-up duty, he should be good for another 150-plus yards on the ground and a couple of touchdowns.
Patrick Mahomes (+3300)
Boom Potential: 4 out of 5
Watching Texas Tech play is like watching a game of Madden where run-plays are not allowed. They love tossing the pigskin around, and thanks to a god-awful defense they usually need to put up big numbers to stay in ball games. Cue Patrick Mahomes.
Mahomes has thrown for 14 touchdowns already this season and has run for four more on the ground. He's currently sitting just shy of 1,500 yards passing through three games, which has him on pace for 6,000 yards passing. I know it's unrealistic to expect the pace to keep up, but I certainly don't see any regression in Week 4 when he hosts Kansas.
Kansas is a mess. They were just trounced 43-7 by Memphis, which is by no means an "offensive juggernaut". The Jayhawks allow 137 yards through the air per game but have given up 237 yards rushing per game, meaning they haven't faced an air attack like Texas Tech yet. Mahomes might not get into the main conversation for Heisman consideration, but his accuracy and attacking style is worth keeping an eye on.
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