According to those who relentlessly track the candidates, the Heisman Trophy is coming down to a two-man race between Louisville sophomore QB Lamar Jackson and Washington QB sophomore Jake Browning. If the vote were held today, it would go to Jackson in a veritable landslide. So says ESPN, whose latest poll (if we can ever again trust polls) has Jackson with 10 first-place votes to Browning’s zero and 50 overall points (perfect score) to Browning’s 34.
Jackson has accounted for 45 touchdowns – 26 passing, 19 rushing – including seven Saturday against Boston College, and is on pace to break Colt Brennan’s record of 63 in 14 games, which he set for Hawaii in 2006.
Browning has accounted for 38 TDs – 34 passing, four rushing — and 228 points, already the No. 1 single-season mark is UW history. He is coming off a six-touchdown splurge against California, his second contest with six TD passes.
Jackson and Browning are close in other statistical respects. Jackson has thrown for 2,753 yards while completing 59 percent. He’s accounted for at least four touchdowns in seven of the Cardinals’ nine games. Browning has tossed for 2,273, but has a far higher completion percentage, 67.9. He’s accounted for four or more TDs in five of Washington’s nine games.
Browning is not nearly the running threat as Jackson is, but, as a touchdown generator in the passing game, few have been in his league. Browning broke Washington’s single-season mark with 34 and has three games, starting with USC Saturday at Husky Stadium (4:30 p.m., FOX), to add to it.
Browning also has a chance to break the single-season Pac-12 Conference record, 43 by California’s Jared Goff (who became the NFL’s No. 1 overall pick) last year. Browning is on track for 45.
Browning is also on pace to throw for 45 in far fewer attempts than Goff, who needed 529 throws to collect 43 TDs. Browning has required only 220 throws to reach 34.
Goff delivered a touchdown pass every 12.3 throws. Browning gets the ball in the end zone every 6.47. (WSU’s Luke Falk has 28 TDs, one every 15.32 passes). How remarkable is that?
The Pac-12 has featured an array of star quarterbacks, including future college and pro Hall of Famers, Heisman Trophy winners, first-team All-Americas, first-round NFL draft picks, etc. Here are the best seasons by 10 of them, ranked according to fewest passes needed to throw a touchdown (Browning included for comparison purposes):
|2016||Jake Browning||Washington||220||34||6.47 att||2,273 yards, 3 INTs|
|2008||Mark Sanchez||USC||241||34||7.08||3,207 yards, 6 INTs|
|2014||Marcus Mariota||Oregon||445||42||10.59||Heisman winner|
|2012||Matt Barkley||USC||387||36||10.75||3,273 yards, 15 INTs|
|1982||John Elway||Stanford||262||24||10.91||Pro Hall of Fame|
|2011||Andrew Luck||Stanford||404||37||10.91||3,517 yards, 10 INTs|
|1997||Ryan Leaf||WSU||410||34||12.05||No. 2 overall pick|
|2004||Matt Leinart||USC||412||33||12.48||Heisman winner|
|1988||Troy Aikman||UCLA||354||24||14.74||Pro Hall of Fame|
|2002||Carson Palmer||USC||489||33||14.81||Heisman winner|
|1992||Drew Bledsoe||WSU||432||20||21.60||No. 1 overall pick|
Since Browning likely will be invited to New York City for the Heisman Trophy presentation, let’s look at how his touchdown every 6.47 throws compares to the past 10 quarterbacks to win college’s football’s top prize (ranked by fewest throws needed):
|2010||Cam Newton||Auburn||280||30||9.33 att||1st overall, 2011|
|2013||Jameis Winston||Florida St.||384||40||9.60||1st overall, 2015|
|2008||Sam Bradford||Oklahoma||483||50||9.66||1st overall, 2010|
|2006||Troy Smith||Ohio State||311||30||10.36||174th overall, 2006|
|2014||Marcus Mariota||Oregon||445||42||10.59||2nd overall, 2015|
|2011||Robert Griffin III||Baylor||402||37||10.86||2nd overall, 2012|
|2007||Tim Tebow||Florida||350||32||10.93||25th overall, 2009|
|2003||Jason White||Oklahoma||451||40||11.27||Went undrafted|
|2012||Johhy Manziel||Texas A&M||429||37||11.59||22nd overall, 2014|
|2004||Matt Leinart||USC||412||33||12.48||10th overall, 2006|
|2016||Jake Browning||Washington||220||34||6.47||67.7 comp. pct.|
Given that, explain how Browning did not receive even one first-place in ESPN’s latest Heisman Trophy poll.