Heisman Watch: How Trevor Lawrence can win the Heisman on Saturday

Nick Bromberg
·4 min read

Is the Heisman race wide open?

Florida QB Kyle Trask was the heavy favorite entering Week 15. But Trask had his worst performance of the season as the Gators lost and potentially ruined their playoff hopes in the process.

If you believe that Trask is no longer the favorite for the Heisman — and it’s important to remember that the Heisman is a season-long competition — then another player could step up and snag the trophy with a big game on Saturday.

And why not Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence? Here’s how the presumptive No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL draft could position himself for the Heisman despite missing two games due to COVID-19.

At the moment, the two betting favorites at BetMGM for the Heisman are both Alabama players. QB Mac Jones is the favorite at -200 and WR DeVonta Smith is second at +250. Lawrence is currently behind Trask at +1000.

While Lawrence may seem like a long shot, his path to the Heisman is actually pretty plausible, thanks to a little recency bias.

Clemson' Trevor Lawrence runs for a 17-yard touchdown past Virginia Tech's Brion Murray during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in Blacksburg, Va. (Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP, Pool)
Trevor Lawrence has also rushed for six TDs in 2020. (Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP, Pool)

Both Jones and Smith could split the vote, especially if they both have good games in a win over Trask’s Gators in the SEC championship game. As we wrote a week ago, Smith is the best player on Alabama’s offense and the most dominant player in college football. His excellence cannot be ignored and if he weren’t on a team with another Heisman contender he would be the overwhelming favorite for the trophy.

Jones has been great too. But nearly 40 percent of his passing yardage and over half (15 of 27) of his passing touchdowns have come on passes to Smith. It’s impossible to separate the two players’ production from each other as they’re both vying for Heisman votes.

That’s where Lawrence comes in. He’s thrown for over 400 yards in two of his eight games so far and doesn’t have a multi-interception game at all in 2020. While his stats are lesser than Jones on a per-game basis, you can’t make the argument that Lawrence isn’t the best offensive player on his team.

And he could very easily show that against Notre Dame on Saturday. As you know, the Irish beat Clemson in November with Lawrence sidelined because of COVID-19. If Lawrence is awesome on Saturday and Clemson clinches a spot in the playoff with a win over the Irish, he’s going to sway some Heisman voters in his favor.

Will he sway enough?

Here’s a look at our top five Heisman contenders

1. Alabama WR DeVonta Smith (+250)

Alabama obliterated Arkansas on the ground so Smith had his quietest receiving day of the season with just three catches for 22 yards. But he also had three punt returns for 111 yards and scored his first punt return TD of the season. He can do it all.

2. Florida QB Kyle Trask (+350)

As we said earlier in this post, the Heisman is a season-long award. Trask has been the most productive QB all season. And he can win back anything he lost on Saturday if the Gators pull a stunner and beat Alabama on Saturday. Against LSU, Trask had three turnovers. But he also had four total touchdowns as he was 29-of-47 passing for 474 yards.

3. Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence (+1000)

Lawrence has thrown for over 400 yards twice in 2020. If he replicates his performance against Pitt — 26-of-37 passing for 403 yards and two TDs — he’s going to get a huge push from Heisman voters on Sunday and Monday.

4. Alabama QB Mac Jones (-200)

Jones was 24-of-29 passing for 208 yards in that win over Arkansas. It was the third time this season that he had completed more than 80 percent of his passes.

5. Notre Dame QB Ian Book (+1000)

You can apply what we said about Lawrence to Book. If he has a stellar game and Notre Dame solidifies an undefeated regular season he could be the one that benefits from an Alabama split.

Also considered

Ohio State QB Justin Fields

Fields’ limited number of games will be why he doesn’t win the Heisman in 2020. Saturday’s Big Ten championship is Ohio State’s sixth game of the season.

Iowa State RB Breece Hall

Hall could garner himself some third-place votes with a big performance against Oklahoma if Iowa State wins its first Big 12 title.

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