The best opening week in college football history did not disappoint, with numerous ranked teams knocked off, including two that were in the top 5. Opening week also saw many Heisman candidates kick off their campaigns to be the most outstanding player in college football. While some Heisman favourites struggled in their first game, including DeShaun Watson and Leonard Fournette, other first-year players shone bright on the national stage, gaining a head start on their Heisman campaign. Here’s our top 5 rankings based on the first week:
Lamar Jackson (QB, Louisville)
Jackson dominated in his first game for the Louisville Cardinals against Charlotte, recording 8 TDs in the first half alone! He finished with 405 total offensive yards, passing for 286 and rushing for 119. Jackson will be the key to Louisville challenging for the ACC title this year.
Jalen Hurts (QB, Alabama)
True freshman Hurts came on to replace Blake Barnett in their battle against 20th ranked USC and his dual-threat ability was too much for the Trojans, who had no idea what hit them. Hurts finished with 4 TDs for 118 yards in the air and 32 yards on the ground, including a 71- yarder to ArDarius Stewart. If Nick Saban settles on Hurts as his starting QB, you can be assured that Hurts will challenge for the Heisman at the end of the year. Steering the ship of the Crimson Tide will be a huge advantage.
DeShone Kizer (QB, Notre Dame)
In a thrilling encounter against Texas, Kizer and the 10th ranked Fighting Irish lost in double overtime. However, the game proved that Kizer is a possible Heisman candidate and potentially a starting QB at the next level. Notre Dame’s QB finished with 215 passing yards and 77 rushing yards, accounting for 6 TDs in total. It looks as though Kizer has won the starting job from Malik Zaire and the Irish have a chance to make the playoff as an 11-1 team with Kizer at the helm.
5) Greg Ward Jr (QB, Houston)
One of the best matchups of the weekend pitted #3 Oklahoma against #15 Houston. The Cougars showed why they are a huge threat to make the College Football Playoff, especially with the dual-threat Ward Jr behind the offensive line. Ward torched the Sooners for 321 yards in the air and 2 TDs. Oklahoma will be the only challenge for Ward and the Cougars this season until they come across fellow Heisman candidate Lamar Jackson and the Louisville Cardinals, which is definitely a game to mark on the calendar.
4) Christian McCaffrey (RB, Stanford)
In my opinion, McCaffrey should’ve won the Heisman last season. Anyone who destroys the FBS record for most total offensive yards previously held by the great Barry Sanders should win. It will be a tough ask for McCaffrey to surpass his record-breaking 2015 season, but he was off to a solid start against Kansas State, rushing for 126 yards and 2 TDs, while also having a 97 yard punt return TD called back. If McCaffrey can lead Stanford to another Pac-12 title, as well as an inaugural playoff berth, the RB will be back in New York.
3) Nick Chubb (RB, Georgia)
In his first game back from a gruesome knee injury, Chubb picked up where he left off before the injury, rushing for 222 yards on 32 carries and 2 TDs, including a 55 yard TD run to seal the deal for #18 Georgia against #22 North Carolina. Chubb was a top Heisman candidate last season before his injury against Tennessee and he looks to lead the Bulldogs to an SEC Championship and possible playoff berth.
2) JT Barrett (QB, Ohio State)
Following Cardale Jones’ departure to the NFL, the Buckeyes’ offense is now Barrett’s. Despite throwing a pick-six on his first play from scrimmage, Barrett rallied to finish with 7 total TDs, with 349 yards in the air and 30 on the ground. Many are sleeping on this new look Buckeyes team and if Barrett can get through the year healthy and overcome all his obstacles, he could make his first trip to New York for the Heisman presentation.
1) Deondre Francois (QB, Florida State)
Sparked by a rousing halftime speech from former Seminoles star Jameis Winston, Francois led #4 Florida State from down 28-13 to #11 Ole Miss and completed an epic comeback, finishing with 420 passing yards and 2 TDs. The 420 yards are the second most ever by an FSU freshman, only behind Winston, who won the Heisman trophy in his redshirt sophmore year at Florida State. Francois had by far the most impressive debut on opening weekend. He faces several obstacles to win the Heisman, including matchups with Louisville and Clemson this season and his own RB Dalvin Cook being a preseason Heisman favourite. However as of now, Francois has become the Heisman favourite after Week 1.