November 21, 2016

Players and coaches like to say the Heisman Trophy is really a team award.

Well, Lamar Jackson's Louisville teammates did not give him much help Thursday night against Houston, so now the winner of the Heisman is not quite the foregone conclusion it was last week.

The Cardinals quarterback was not at his best in a 36-10 loss, in which he was sacked 11 times but his remarkable athleticism likely saved him from three or four more. The negative sack yardage, which counts toward rushing yards in college, killed Jackson's box score. Jackson ran for 116 yards on 14 carries, not counting the 11 sacks. Add those and the numbers drop to 25 for 33.

He was 20 for 43 for 211 yards passing with a touchdown and no picks. He did have a crucial fumble near the goal line.

So is the door open for someone to overtake Jackson in voting by the AP's Heisman watch panel? Maybe. Not only has he stumbled, but the next two weeks will be filled with high-stakes games, involving Heisman contenders:

Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville (21 points)

Numbers to know: Jackson has thrown six interceptions and lost three fumbles, giving him nine turnovers. By comparison, Clemson's Deshaun Watson has 13 interceptions. Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield has 11 turnovers (eight and three). Washington's Jake Browning has nine (seven and two). Ohio State's J.T. Barrett has five (four and one).

Next: Kentucky. The Wildcats rank 86th in the nation in defense at 5.95 yards per play allowed. Two weeks ago, Tennessee quarterback Josh Dobbs had 223 yards passing, 147 yards rushing and accounted for five touchdowns against this defense.

Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson (12 points)

Number to know: There is no doubt that Watson's performance now compared with last year's is off, but by how much? This season he is averaging 336.7 yards per game of total offense. Last year, 347.3. So not that much.

Next: South Carolina. The Gamecocks have been OK defensively, allowing 5.44 yards per play (50th in the nation).

Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama (2 points)

Number to know: Allen is one of five finalists for the Nagurski Award given to the national defensive player of the year.

Next: No. 16 Auburn. The Tigers rank fifth in the nation in rushing at 297 yards per game and in rushing attempts at 52. The Tigers also rank 119th in passing attempts at 243.

Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma (2 points)

Number to know: Westbrook has 24 catches of at least 20 yards, most in the nation, and 12 of at least 40 yards, tied for tops in the country.

Next: No. 10 Oklahoma State, Dec. 3.

J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State (1 point)

Number to know: Barrett leads the Big Ten in touchdown passes with 24.

Next: No. 3 Michigan. The Wolverines lead the nation in yards allowed per game at 245.6 and are second in yards per play allowed at 3.95.

Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State (1 point)

Number to know: Cook has scored 17 touchdowns, including two four-touchdown games.

Next: No. 13 Florida. The Gators allow 3.31 yards per carry, 13th in the nation.

D'Onta Foreman, RB, Texas (1 point)

Number to know: Foreman needs 137 yards to reach 2,000 and is averaging 186.30 per game, tops in the country.

Next: TCU. The Horned Frogs have the second best rush defense in the Big 12, allowing 3.82 yards per carry.

Jabrill Peppers, LB, Michigan (1 point)

Number to know: Peppers leads the Wolverines in tackles for loss at 16 and is tied for the team lead with eight quarterback hurries.

Next: at No. 2 Ohio State.

Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma (1 point)

Number to know: Mayfield has accounted for at least four TDs in nine games this season, including the last eight.

Next: at No. 10 Oklahoma State, Dec. 3.

AP Heisman watch panel: National Writer Paul Newberry, Georgia; Sports Writer Stephen Hawkins, Texas; Sports Writer John Marshall, Arizona; Sports Writer Joedy McCreary, North Carolina; Sports Writer Eric Olson, Nebraska; Sports Writer Steve Megargee, Tennessee; College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo, New York.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

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More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org

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