It’s become that the annual competition for the Heisman Trophy isn’t really official unless it has an Oklahoma football quarterback in the hunt.
That’s the way it has been in recent seasons, and the pattern is no different this time around, either.
ESPN has put out its first official Heisman Watch of the 2020 college football season. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is the heavy favorite to capture college football most prestigious individual award, and he predictably commands the top spot in the first Heisman Watch of the season.
But the next name down belongs to Oklahoma first-year starter Spencer Rattler. Rattler was impressive in his first collegiate start, throwing for 290 yards and four touchdowns in just two quarters in Oklahoma’s 48-0 win over Missouri State on Saturday.
If he keeps that up, he surely will be in the Heisman conversation for the duration, in the true tradition of Oklahoma quarterbacks under Lincoln Riley.
Lawrence’s overall body of work is much more pronounced than Rattler’s, of course, this being his third season as the Clemson starter. Except for total passing yardage, however, Rattler’s opening-game numbers were more eye-catching than Lawrence’s.
Rattler completed 14 of 17 passes, and two of the three that fell incomplete were on target but dropped by the intended receiver. His 303.3 passing efficiency rating was a Big 12 and Oklahoma record for freshmen and the third highest ever recorded by an Oklahoma quarterback regardless of class.
Lawrence’s stat line in Clemson’s 37-13 win over Wake Forest on Saturday read: 22 for 28 for 351 yards and a touchdown. His longest pass completion was 42 yards (Rattler threw touchdown passes of over 50 yards in the Sooners’ first three possessions on Saturday). By comparison, Lawrence’s passing efficiency rating in Saturday’s game was 195.66.
There are several other college stars who made the initial Heisman Watch list for 2020. No. 3 is Texas QB Sam Ehlinger (Rattler and Ehlinger will square off on Oct. 10 in the annual OU-Texas rivalry game in the Cotton Bowl). Clemson RB Travis Etienne is No. 4 and Oklahoma State RB Chuba Hubbard in No. 5.
The Sooners run of Heisman winners and Heisman-worthy quarterbacks since the 2000 season has been remarkable. Josh Heupel, who commandeered Oklahoma to the national championship in 2000 was a Heisman runner-up.
Since then, four other Sooner quarterbacks (Jason White in 2003, Sam Bradford in 2008, Baker Mayfield in 2017 and Kyler Murray in 2018) have taken home the coveted award and a fifth (Jalen Hurts last season) was a runner-up in the Heisman voting.
If the current trend holds, don’t be surprised to see Rattler’s name on the invite list to go to New York City in December as one of the 2020 Heisman finalists. It’s been a while since an Oklahoma quarterback wasn’t at that ceremony.