Louisiana State University quarterback Jayden Daniels certainly had his Heisman moment today against the Florida Gators. He became the first player in FBS history to throw for over 350 yards and rush for over 200 yards.
In the 52-35 win for Daniels and LSU he finished with 372 yards passing and three touchdowns along with 234 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr caught six passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns and Malik Nabers caught six passes for 132 yards.
His performance today was one of the individual performances in college football history. Yet is it enough to put him in the conversation or even the favorite for the Heisman Trophy? The answer is no. One of the reasons is that LSU has three losses.
Now as some have pointed out on social media there have been quarterbacks who have won the Heisman with three losses. Lamar Jackson won in 2016 yet the Louisville Cardinals only played two ranked teams and went 1-1, with Florida State being obliterated 63-20 and a close loss to the Clemson Tigers 42-36.
Jackson finished 2016 throwing for 3,543 yards, 30 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also carried the football 260 times for 1,571 yards and 21 touchdowns. In this case though he ran away from his competition which was Deshaun Watson of Clemson who threw for 4,593 yards, 41 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. Baker Mayfield came in third, he threw for 3,965 yards, 40 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
What separated Jackson from Watson and Mayfield was the combined yardage and total touchdowns. For Mayfield also the Oklahoma Sooners lost twice to ranked opponents within the first three weeks of the season.
Overall Mayfield and Oklahoma went 4-2 against opponents that were ranked at the time the two teams played.
In 2007 Tim Tebow won the Heisman with Florida having three losses. He threw for 3,286 yards, 32 touchdowns and six interceptions. Also, he carried the football 210 times for 895 yards and 23 touchdowns. Combining for 55 touchdowns was a difficult task for the runner-up Darren McFadden to overcome. The 5.6 yards per carry were also low and he was not utilized much as a receiver for the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Hawaii Rainbow Warriors quarterback Colt Brennan was third in the voting. He threw for 4,343 yards with 38 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.
Arguably there is some precedent to invite someone who is on a team that has lost three times to the presentation ceremony and to win the Heisman. Still this is not one of those situations, in any other year Daniels certainly wins the award, yet there is too much talent across the board in college football in 2023 for that to happen.
Also, it helps to look at the losses as well.
LSU in their season opener got crushed in the fourth quarter by FSU and from what was a close game was now a 28 point deficit. With a little over a minute left, Daniels threw a touchdown pass to Thomas Jr, which put him well over the 300 yard mark passing and it was his only touchdown throw in the game he was also intercepted once.
From a tough out of conference match-up, to a cupcake the next week. LSU took on Grambling and the final result of that game a 72-10 win. Now Daniels took care of business against Mississippi State and survived a not so good Arkansas team.
Against Mississippi, Daniels passed his test. Throwing for 414 yards and four touchdowns. He also carried the ball 15 times for 99 yards and a touchdown in the 55-49 loss. Still that vaunted LSU offense got outscored in the fourth quarter 21-7, with Jaxson Dart and Quinshon Judkins leading the way.
Still there was not much of a wait for the next test, Missouri. Daniels was quiet throwing the football yardage wise with 259 yards, yet he threw three touchdown passes. He picked up an additional 130 yards on 15 carries with a touchdown in a 49-39 victory, which became LSU’s first and only win over a ranked opponent in 2023.
By Auburn standards it has not been a good year, which showed by barely beating California and then facing a gauntlet of ranked opponents including LSU with Daniels. In the 48-18 victory, he threw for 325 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception. While he was held out of the end zone he did add 93 yards on 11 carries.
Another cupcake this time Army. Then Alabama came calling, LSU struggled offensively to score in the second half. Daniels was held in check when it came to his passing yards only 219 yards, he did throw two touchdowns and an interception. On the ground he made his marks with 163 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown.
For Alabama, Jalen Milroe also threw for 219 yards. He also carried the football 20 times for 155 yards and four touchdowns. Simply put, he outplayed Daniels.
So LSU this season has lost to FSU, Mississippi, and Alabama. In two of the three games, the second half of those games the offense struggled to put points on the board. Their out of conference schedule was not up to par either with Grambling and Army, their fourth opponent coming up next week is Georgia State.
For the Heisman candidates ahead of Daniels, their record against ranked teams is well over .500 and the top two candidates have combined for only one loss.
There is no question overall that Daniels is having a great year with 2,792 yards passing, 27 touchdowns to only four interceptions while running for 684 yards on 102 carries and six touchdowns. It is not enough to overtake the ones who have been in the Heisman contention from week one.