No one’s winning the Heisman Trophy in the opening weekend — the Forecaster checked and they won’t let us cast any votes his early — but a contender can certainly put himself in a position where he’s forced to play catchup.
Among the top-five preseason favorites, Alabama‘s Tua Tagovailoa, Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts, Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor and Ohio State’s Justin Fields all held serve with monster days in routs in Week 1.
Meanwhile, Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence had the most pedestrian day among the front-runners, with the kind of opener that hasn’t been the foundation for a run at the Heisman since, well, the Tigers quarterback has been alive.
He threw for 168 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions — and added another score on the ground — with Lawrence posting a 114.8 efficiency rating that was the worst of any of his career starts in a Tigers uniform. No quarterback has had that kind of a down season opener and still went on to win the trophy since Nebraska’s Eric Crouch, who was as much a runner as he was a passer, had a 114.9 efficiency rating in the Cornhuskers’ opener in 2001.
The poster boy of the defending national champs with an epic performance against Alabama in the title game, Lawrence entered the season with plenty of leeway in this race. That being said, the Tigers only have two regular season matchups against Top-25 teams — this weekend vs. No. 12 Texas A&M and Sept. 14 against No. 21 Syracuse — and Lawrence has to contender with another challenger in his own backfield in Travis Etienne, who is coming off a 200-yard day.
Look, Lawrence is going o remain a factor in this race regardless. That’s the luxury you have when you owned the stage in the College Football Playoff as a true freshman, but he can solidify himself as the early Heisman leader Saturday afternoon at Clemson Memorial Stadium and, in the process, deliver a blow to another contender in Texas A&M QB Kellen Mond.
Here are the players poised to rise and fall as we head into the second week of the season.
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