With the College Football Playoff field now decided, the only thing left to debate is who will win the Heisman Trophy – Clemson’s Deshaun Watson or Louisville’s Lamar Jackson.
Like the College Football Playoff Committee’s decision, Heisman voters had to decide early on Monday when they turned in their votes between who was the most deserving of the award as opposed to who is the best player.
If voters were trying to decide on who is the best athlete in college football, then it should have been an easy decision. Lamar Jackson is the best athlete. I think we all can agree on that.
However, if voters were trying to decide on who deserves it more, then Deshaun Watson was there guy.
First of all, let me start off by saying I’m not a voter, but if I was one, I think I would have taken a long hard look at what the numbers truly tell us as well as the eye-test, attitude, character, how the player handles adversity and the player’s ability to lead his team in crucial situations.
If you just look at the numbers, Watson is a better quarterback, and it is really not even close. The Clemson quarterback is ahead of Jackson in all but two categories when it comes to throwing the football.
Watson leads the ACC in five statistical categories and ranks second in two others. Jackson does not lead the ACC in any passing category and ranks second in two others. Watson has thrown 105 more passes and has completed 109 more as well. He has thrown for 524 more yards and seven more touchdowns.]
He also has completed 68 percent of his passes to Jackson’s 58 percent.
Where Jackson has the upper hand is with his legs. The sophomore has rushed for 1,009 more yards than Watson and scored 15 more touchdowns.
Overall, Jackson has 4,928 total yards and 51 touchdowns. Watson has 4,443 total yards and 43 touchdowns.
Voters also needed to look away from the metrics for a second and look at the intangibles, which is where Watson has a huge advantage. When trailing or tied in the fourth quarter or overtime, Watson led Clemson to three victories, including a 42-36 victory over Jackson and the Cardinals.
As for Jackson, he won just two.
Then there is this factor, Watson led his team to a division championship, then a conference championship where he was named the game’s Most Valuable Player for a second straight year.
The Tigers are 12-1, ranked No. 2 in the final College Football Playoff rankings, and will be playing in the College Football Playoff for a second straight year.
As for Jackson’s Louisville squad, they’re 9-3 and playing in the Citrus Bowl.
You hope they also looked at these numbers, too.
In the month of November, during the stretch run to an ACC Championship, Watson tied his own Clemson and ACC record with six touchdown passes, while throwing for 347 yards on 26-of-32 passing against South Carolina. For the month, he completed 113 of 151 passes (.748) for 1,306 yards and 12 touchdowns. Granted, he threw four interceptions, but three came in the Tigers’ loss to Pitt when he also completed 52-of-70 passes (.743) for 580 yards and three touchdowns.
By the way, Watson had 1,419 total yards and 15 touchdowns in November, while Jackson had 1,410 and 13 touchdowns.
In the ACC Championship Game, Watson added to those numbers, with 373 total yards and five total touchdowns. He rushed for 85 yards and threw for 288 more on 23-of-34 passing.
As for Jackson, he and the Cardinals went 2-2 down the stretch, including back-to-back losses to Houston and Kentucky to close the regular season. Jackson was sacked 11 times in the loss to Houston and turned the football over four times in the Kentucky game, including a fumble on the last drive, which led to Kentucky’s game-winning field goal.
Watson’s late surge and Jackson’s collapse at the end, allowed Clemson’s All-American quarterback to close the gap heading into tonight’s Heisman Finalist announcement on ESPN. In the final USA TODAY Network Heisman survey, Watson made a strong move toward the top to create the smallest margin of the season. He stands just 11 points behind Jackson, who has led all season.
The survey is of editors and writers with Heisman votes who work for properties owned by Gannett, the parent of USA TODAY.
So the question is did voters decide to have the Heisman go to the best player or the most deserving player in the country? We will find out on Saturday in New York.