So Week 1 of the college football season has come and gone and what a week it was.
The opening weekend brought with it a plethora of exciting match-ups, including the headliner of #1 Alabama vs. #3 Florida State. Fans were also treated to the second-largest deficit overcome in FBS history as UCLA overcame a 44-10 hole to top Texas A&M on Sunday night.
Unfortunately, not all teams exited the weekend with just a win or a loss on their record.
If you were #3 Florida State, you lost your starting quarterback for the entire season; in some of the worst news you could hear at this point in the season. FSU’s Deandre Francois went down hard after being chased from behind by Alabama safety Rodney Harrison, suffering an apparent knee injury that left him on crutches with a large brace on his leg.
Some very frustrating news for fans who more than likely would have seen Francois on this list at some point during the season.
For the stars who survived their first tests of 2017, they live to fight another day en route to this year’s Heisman Trophy.
Every Monday, I plan to release a new set of Heisman Watch rankings listing my top-5 candidates for the award while also including one “sleeper” pick that can change from week-to-week. As crazy as college football can be, don’t expect this list to remain the same by the end of the season.
Without further ado, here are the top-5 players following week 1:
Missed watching Lamar Jackson run the ball. pic.twitter.com/ZAE9bJUjp3
— Ty Wurth (@WurthDraft) September 2, 2017
1 – Lamar Jackson, Louisville, QB
Whether or not Jackson had the most impressive performance from week 1, he is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and by no means did he do anything to hurt his stock against the Purdue Boilermakers. He finished with a passing line of 30/46 for 378 yards and two touchdowns to go along with 107 yards rushing yards on 21 carries.
Almost 500 yards of offense is always an outstanding feat but it can almost be routine when it comes to Jackson. Couple that with his ability to hit tight windows through the air and gut defenses on the ground and you have the makings of a repeat winner for the Heisman Trophy.
2 – Saquon Barkley, Penn State, RB
You don’t take the #1 spot on College Football’s Freaks List for just being able to lift a lot of weight or run fast in a straight line. Barkley showcased his freakish athletic ability against the Akron Zips to the tune of 226 total yards of offense and two touchdowns.
The Heisman Trophy has been a very quarterback-friendly award over the years and it takes a historic season from any other position to be considered for it. Luckily for Barkley, he has historic-type talent. He will look to get revenge against a Pitt team next week that held him under 100 yards rushing last week while also defeating getting the W against the Nittany Lions
3 – Josh Rosen, UCLA, QB
In his game against the Aggies, Josh Rosen was the epitome of “it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”
It wasn’t the prettiest game for Rosen through the first three quarters of play as he was thoroughly harrassed from the get-go. But the second the fourth quarter started, he was a whole new player. In the final quarter alone, Rosen threw for a whopping 292 yards on 19-0f-26 passing and all four of his touchdowns with not a single interception. In all, he threw for almost 500 yards while completing the second-largest comeback in FBS history.
Not a bad way to kickoff your campaign for the 2017 Heisman Trophy.
4 – Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma, QB
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know Mayfield may have only played a single half of football but did you see that one half of football? Mayfield torched the UTEP defense while setting a single-game record for most completions to start a game with 16. He finished the half with just one incompletion, going 19-for-20 for 329 yards and three touchdowns. Mayfield may have found himself higher on this list if he continued to play into the second half but his small sample-size of work was spectacular enough to warrant his inclusion anyway.
5 – Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State, QB
Rounding out the top-5 is the man who orchestrates one of the most explosive offenses in college football. Mason Rudolph had one of the best and most efficient debuts of the young season. Taking advantage of his star wide receiver James Washington, Rudolph finished the game 20-for-24 passing with three touchdowns while adding a fourth one on the ground.
OSU’s triple threat of Rudolph, Washington, and running back Justice Hill could have this offense steamrolling teams from start to finish in 2017 with Rudolph possibly riding that well-oiled machine all the way to New York.
Ronald Jones II looked like a sure fire 1st round pick today….
— NFL Draft Center (@NFLdraftcenter) September 3, 2017
Sleeper pick: Ronald Jones II, USC, RB
Jones will more than likely be overshadowed by teammate Sam Darnold for most of the season, seeing as the latter has been talked about as a potential #1 overall pick in next year’s draft. But as for week 1, Jones took advantage of his quarterback’s early struggles as he ran like a man among boys against Western Michigan. He finished the night with 18 totes for 159 yards and three touchdowns. If Jones can keep up this pace, there might be a an unexpected Trojan flying to New York this year.