What’s Going To Happen: 2017 Heisman Trophy Prediction
What will happen this 2017 college football season? Who’s going to win the Heisman Trophy, and who, among all the top contenders, will come up short?
2017 Heisman Trophy Prediction
It’s both a blessing and a curse. I can’t change the future; I can only see it – stay away from the shrimp tonight, there will be little fire and less fury, and, of course, the Dodgers are going to flame out before the NLCS.
I’ve also been fortunate enough to be let in on what’s going to happen in the 2017 Heisman Trophy race, so if you don’t what to know who’s going to win – like anyone in the history of things hasn’t taken a peek when told that – stop reading now.
So what’s going to happen? Who’s going to win it? Let’s start with who’s not going to win the 2017 Heisman Trophy.
QB Sam Darnold, USC
The 17/4 odds on favorite, he’ll have a strong season on the way to becoming a New York Jet, but USC will be just okay – it won’t win the Pac-12 title – and the numbers won’t be amazing enough to be anything more than a good challenger in the race.
QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville
Think Johnny Manziel’s follow-up season – but without all the Johnny Manzieliness. Jackson will be amazing again, and Louisville will be fine, but voters aren’t going to do backflips over immortalizing him as the second two-time winner – especially after getting burned after the bowl season by not voting for Deshaun Watson, like I correctly did. Arm and shoulder almost healed after excessively patting myself on the back for that this offseason.
QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
The numbers will be amazing, he’ll lead Oklahoma to a third straight Big 12 title, and at the end of the rainbow, the column inches will be flow when it comes to asking whether or not he belongs in any sort of Lifetime Achievement Award all-timer discussion. But Oklahoma will lose at Ohio State. Thanks for playing.
QB J.T. Barrett, Ohio State
He’s an Ohio State quarterback under Urban Meyer – they never, ever, ever get enough credit in the Heisman race. The stats won’t be strong enough, and the offense will be too balanced under new offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson – heads up on the sleeper Heisman pick to come in a moment.
RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State
There will be times during the season when he’s at the top of the list, and he might be the top running back taken in the 2018 NFL Draft, but Penn State won’t have the same sort of year, and Barkley won’t even lead the Big Ten in rushing.
QB Deondre Francois, Florida State
The odds are 12/1, mainly based on what he might do against Alabama in the opener. If he lights up the Crimson Tide in Week One with the whole world watching, it’s over. Florida State will be the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff, and Francois will win the Heisman in a landslide. Deondre Francois will not light up Alabama in the opener.
RB Bo Scarbrough, Alabama
On talent, maybe. In a few key games in big moments, probably. But the overall numbers won’t be good enough. He’ll lose way too many rushing yards to other stars in the backfield.
RB Derrius Guice, LSU
You know how everyone said Trent Richardson was going to be the better Alabama running back after he got the full-time gig following the Mark Ingram era? That’s sort of the same situation, but Leonard Fournette was better, and this LSU team is worse.
QB Jake Browning, Washington
He’s not going to win it, but he’ll be worthy. Washington is going to have another amazing year, and Browning will be sensational, but he doesn’t have John Ross to throw to, and his stats won’t be quite as strong.
QB Trace McSorley, Penn State
20/1 on the board, but no. Just … no. Barkley is the bigger Penn State star, and the Nittany Lions will finish third in the Big Ten East.
QB Quinton Flowers, South Florida
An interesting call at 20/1, he’ll run for 1,000 yards and put up huge passing numbers as he carries the Charlie Strong offense, but the biggest game on the schedule is … Houston?
QB Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
He’ll be the No. 3 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, and he’ll have a monstrous season highlighted by a win over Oklahoma, but he and the Cowboys will lose the rematch in the Big 12 Championship, and Baker Mayfield will have the bigger year in the conference.
QB Josh Rosen, UCLA
His mouth is writing some big checks that his aching shoulder needs to cash – and it’ll all pay off with a huge performance against Texas A&M to start the season. He’ll put up huge, huge passing numbers for a team that can’t run the ball a lick, but UCLA will hover around 8-4 and won’t win the Pac-12 South.
RB Nick Chubb, Georgia
Two words; Sony Michel (even if he’s used as a receiver)
RB Kamryn Pettway, Auburn
He’ll have his moments, but QB Jarrett Stidham will take away some of the Heisman luster. The Tigers will have too many offensive weapons for Pettway to steal the Heisman show, and he’ll get held in check by Alabama with everyone watching.
QB Luke Falk, Washington State
He’s a Mike Leach quarterback. He’ll throw for 9-gajillion yards for the best Wazzu team yet under Leach, and then he won’t even make any of the All-Pac-12 teams in a conference with Jake Browning, Josh Rosen, and Sam Darnold.
QB Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State
It’s a nice idea and an interesting flier at 50/1. He’s going to have the stats both rushing and passing, and he’ll have the opportunities to take control of the Heisman chase if he pulls off something special early against LSU and Georgia and late against Alabama, but he won’t lead the way to enough big wins.
QB Brandon Wimbush, Notre Dame
He’s not going to be in the Heisman race at the end, but he’s going to crank up an enormous season. All of a sudden, with new personnel and a new offensive coordinator, the Irish offense will look night-and-day peppier.
QB Shane Buechele, Texas
Tom Herman’s starting quarterback is always going to put up the numbers to be in the Heisman mix. But is Buechele a 100% rock-solid lock to be that No. 1 quarterback throughout the season, or will Sam Ehlinger be a part of the fun? In a conference with Baker Mayfield and Mason Rudolph, Buechele won’t even be the top quarterback in his own league.
Welcome to my 12th annual, If-You-Choose-To-Invest-Take-The-Field Heisman advice. However …
Heisman Sleeper: RB Mike Weber, Ohio State
Last year, my sleeper was Lamar Jackson with the call that Louisville was going to shock the world by winning the ACC title – and I also preached that Leonard Fournette was going to win the Heisman, and took Hillary plus the 77 electoral votes.
No, Weber isn’t going to win it, but …
Blow off the minor hamstring problem he’s having in fall camp – he’s about to be enormous.
Former Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson is taking over the offensive coordinator gig, which means it’s happy, happy fun time for the running backs.
At IU, Devine Redding ran for 1,122 yards last season and over 1,000 yards the year before. Jordan Howard tore off 1,213 yards in 2015, and Tevin Coleman ripped it up for 2,036 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2014.
Weber averaged over six yards per carry with 1,096 yards and nine scores last season, and while Barrett will take away from the rushing total, the numbers will still be big. Watch out for a huge performance against Indiana to start the season, and against Oklahoma to launch the campaign into full gear. But he’ll come up just short.
Alright, enough. The winner of the 2017 Heisman Trophy is …
QB Jalen Hurts, Alabama
All of the components are there.
He’s going to be on the biggest stages, the team is going to be in the national title hunt, and he’s going to have enough sensational moments to look the part.
I unsuccessfully argued over the first half of last year that Hurts belonged deep in the Heisman discussion after he ran for 132 yards and three scores against Tennessee and was the difference in the 10-0 win over LSU with 114 yards and the game’s lone touchdown. But the rushing stats started to slow down over the second half of last year.
He might have struggled throwing the ball in the SEC Championship vs. Florida, and his problems in the College Football Playoff games were well documented, but he proved he could hover around the 70% passing mark at times late in the regular season. If he can hit around 65% – he was at 62% at the end of the season – and keep on running in big wins, the stats will be fine.
New offensive coordinator Brian Daboll appears to be turning Hurts into a better passer mechanically, but he’s not going to limit the running plays meaning he’ll be the signature superstar on the No. 1 team in the country all year long.
Hurts will be the difference in the season-opening win over Florida State, and then the Crimson Tide will roll from there with a relatively – for the SEC – easy schedule.
Alabama will keep winning big, the Florida State game will be what everyone remembers, and in the end, Hurts will be the star player on the star team with the star stats.