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Each week, we’ll talk to our reporters on the ground to get their thoughts on the biggest happenings during the college football season. This week, we check in with LSU after another big victory and analyze Joe Burrow’s Heisman chances, head to Norman to look at Oklahoma’s chances of running the table now that Texas is out of the way and examine Wisconsin and mull whether this is the best team the Badgers have had in the playoff era.
Is LSU quarterback Joe Burrow the Heisman frontrunner?
Most schools looking to punch their ticket to the College Football Playoff need at least one signature win on their schedule. At the halfway point of the 2019 season, LSU already has two. The Tigers dispatched of Florida on Saturday night, led by quarterback Joe Burrow, who is quickly becoming a trendy pick for the Heisman Trophy. With Burrow at the helm, the Tigers’ new offense is putting up huge numbers every week and isn’t showing signs of slowing. So is Burrow in position to win the Heisman?
We checked in with TigerDetails.com’s Jerit Roser to get his take:
“You can’t say enough about Joe Burrow’s impact on what LSU is doing right now — not only for his ability to make plays on the field, but in terms of the attitude and confidence with which he leads the team. If any critics remained entering this weekend, yet another exceptional performance — this time against Florida’s highly touted pass rush and defensive backs — should have just about won them over. The senior completed 21 of 24 attempts (87.5 percent) for 293 yards and three touchdowns to just three incompletions against a defense allowing less than 10 points per game. A lot of football, including matchups with Auburn, Alabama and Texas A&M remain, but every bit of Heisman hype surrounding the Tigers’ quarterback (and then some) at the moment is 100 percent deserved given his résumé of absurd numbers, winning plays and a pair of top-10 victories.”
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Is this the best Wisconsin team in recent memory?
Wisconsin has rightfully earned a reputation in recent years as a consistent, quality program. Every year it seems like the Badgers are in the hunt for a spot in the Big 10 title game and perhaps even the Rose Bowl. But the team hasn’t made an appearance in the College Football Playoff, often running into an Ohio State roadblock.
Is this year’s Badgers team different?
We asked BadgerBlitz.com’s Jon McNamara to give his thoughts on Wisconsin’s chances to stay undefeated this year.
“With a defense that ranks No. 1 in the country in a handful of categories and a legit Heisman contender in the backfield, this could be the year Wisconsin breaks through into the College Football Playoff. Standing in the way, though, is Ohio State, which the Badgers will face on the road in two weeks. An even bigger question surfaces if UW were to win: Would Wisconsin have to beat the Buckeyes again in the Big Ten title game to get in?
I really like how this team is playing through six games, four of which have ended in shutouts. But if I had to predict today if the Badgers are one of the four teams selected, I’d say no. That being said, this is probably the best team in Madison since the Russell Willson-led squad in 2011. We’ll know a lot more about the Big Ten in two weeks.”
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Oklahoma survives Texas despite Hurts’ early struggles
Oklahoma survived the Red River Rivalry game on Saturday, edging out Texas after the Horns’ final comeback attempt came up short. After the game looked like it might be a blowout early, a few costly mistakes by Sooners quarterback Jalen Hurts allowed Texas to hang around. In the end, Hurts and his top receiver CeeDee Lamb were too much for the battered Texas defense to handle. So is the close call and the early mistakes by Hurts something for Sooners fans to worry about? Or is the return path to the playoff clear of its biggest hurdle?
We asked SoonerScoop.com’s Carey Murdoch to weigh in on Hurts and the Sooners.
“Jalen Hurts’ final college season has been tabbed as his ‘redemption tour’ by some of us covering the Sooners this year. Some less-reputable media, including someone at SoonerScoop, referred to this season as Hurts’ “F-U tour” after he was benched for Tua Tagovailoa in the national title game.
On Saturday against Texas, Hurts was the one who needed to be redeemed. After fumbling away the football on a drive destined for the end zone, and after throwing a seemingly panic-induced interception into the end zone, Hurts looked like a player who wasn’t ready for the spotlight of the Red River Rivalry.
But even though the Sooners failed to capitalize on drives deep into Texas territory early in the game, Hurts’ defense had his back. They put together stop after stop after stop.
Eventually Hurts regained his form, thanks to the fleet feet of CeeDee Lamb.
Lamb’s 10 catches, 171 yards and three TDs stole the show. And the OU defense played one of their best games in years. It wasn’t a Heisman-defining win for the Alabama transfer. It ended up being a nice mulligan.
If this season started out as a redemption tour, Saturday showed Hurts even though he’s carrying a heavier load as the quarterback for Lincoln Riley, even though he’s expected to follow in the footsteps of Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, he isn’t doing it all on his own.
It's something Mayfield and Murray didn’t have at OU.
If the OU defense continues to progress at this level, Hurts doesn’t have to be a Heisman Trophy winner to finally win that national title he couldn’t as a starter in Tuscaloosa since the 2017 season.
He’ll still be that quarterback who drives the offense instead of the one who manages it.
And maybe that’s enough of an F-U tour for Hurts.”
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