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The Heisman Trophy Should Belong To Jayden Daniels

It feels like Jayden Daniels has been in college forever. I remember watching him as a freshman at Arizona State when he was going up against Michigan State back in 2019. A lot has changed in the world since then. Daniels ultimately ended up at LSU. I think it’s safe to say that regardless of what happens, this has been a relatively disappointing campaign for the Tigers. They came into the year with National Championship aspirations, and at best, they will finish with three losses. The one silver lining that will come from this season is that, for the second time in five years, an LSU quarterback is the best player in college football. Jayden Daniels deserves to win the Heisman trophy. 

This has been a great year for the Heisman trophy. There are a lot of guys who put up phenomenal campaigns. Michael Penix, Bo Nix, and Jayden Daniels are all deserving in their own right. And there is still a part of me that thinks if either Nix or Penix puts up big numbers in the Pac-12 championship game, the award may end up being theirs, which is really too bad because I feel like Daniel’s has a pretty substantial lead as far as I’m concerned. The only downside against him is the three losses that LSU has suffered. In those three losses, he’s averaged 424 total yards and three total touchdowns. It’s not his fault that LSU’s defense has been awful. 

I also don't understand why the idea of having a Heisman Trophy winner who suffered three losses is this taboo thing when it's happened many times in the past. Lamar Jackson was part of the three-loss team in 2016, Robert Griffin III was part of a three-loss team in 2011, and Tim Tebow was part of the three-loss team in 2007 (Jackson and Tebow's teams also lost their bowl game). I can't use the win/loss record as a knock against a player when they've put up such historically good numbers throughout the season. Daniels' last two games alone have been mind-blowing. Last night, he followed up a 600 total-yard effort against Florida with an eight-total touchdown effort against Georgia State. You can knock the quality of the opponent, but stat padding is important when we're talking about the Heisman Trophy, and Daniels has put up god like numbers.

You do need to be a little bit lucky if you want to win the Heisman trophy. You need to be incredibly talented, but you can't suffer from what I call the "Tua problem." in 2018, Tua Tagovailoa was in a tight Heisman race with Kyler Murray. Kyler Murray ultimately ended up winning as Alabama's dominance prevented Tua from padding his stats. In this way, despite his team losing three games, Jayden Daniels has actually benefited from LSU's defense being putrid. He can't afford to be pulled early. He has been more than just a pure volume guy. His efficiency numbers rank among the best in the country.

There needs to be a college football equivalent to wins above replacement. If there was, I feel like Daniels would lead that category. There are a lot of quarterbacks who've had tremendous years, but LSU's defense has been Swiss cheese this year, and they'd probably be a five-loss team if not for Jayden Daniels. You can argue for several players, but to me, Jayden Daniels is the best player in college football. He deserves to win the Heisman trophy.