AP Heisman Watch: Jackson Leads, But Browning Surges
(AP) — The challenge for Lamar Jackson as he chases the Heisman Trophy is to maintain front-runner status while playing games that will not be drawing a lot of attention.
No. 7 Louisville and its star quarterback get back into action this week for the first of five straight games in which they will be big favorites. On one hand, Jackson and the No. 1 offense in the country have a chance to put up some big stats and lopsided victories. On the other hand, there will be few chances for those Heisman moments that usually come in marquee matchups — such as the Cardinals' last game at No. 3 Clemson.
For now, Jackson is still the overwhelming leader in The Associated Press' Heisman Watch, receiving the first-place votes from all seven AP sports writers polled. Only four players made each voters' top three.
1. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville (21 points)
Last week: Off.
Next: Duke, which ranks seventh in the Atlantic Coast Conference in defense at 5.09 yards per play.
2. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson (11 points)
Last week: Watson threw four touchdown passes and no interceptions in a rout of Boston College. He already has seven picks so keeping that number down the rest of the way will be important. He ran for only 28 yards against the Eagles, mostly because he didn't have to do much running.
Next: North Carolina State, which ranks fifth in the ACC in defense at 4.47 yards per play. Watson threw for 383 yards and five touchdowns and ran for a score against the Wolfpack last season.
3. Jake Browning, QB, Washington (8 points)
Last week: The sophomore made his Heisman statement, accounting for eight touchdowns in a blowout of Oregon. He leads the nation in touchdown passes (23) and efficiency rating (204.86). Could be the latest Pac-12 star to test the East Coast bias theory in Heisman voting.
Next: Oregon State, Oct. 22.
4. Greg Ward Jr., QB, Houston (2 points)
Last week: Ward threw two interceptions, including a pick six, in the Cougars' first loss with him as a starting quarterback since 2014. He also had 359 yards passing, 94 rushing and was in on four touchdowns. Still, it will be hard for Ward to stay here as Houston's playoff hopes fade.
Next: Tulsa, which ranks fifth in the American Athletic Conference in defense at 5.07 yards per play.