Story Poster
Photo by Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
Texas A&M Football

SEC Round-Up: LSU's Daniels stands to end Heisman argument vs. A&M

November 23, 2023

Arguments are as much a part of college football as tailgates, traditions and touchdowns.

Arguments occur in bars, stadiums, on message boards and on TV shows. They argue over what team is better. What team is cheating? What coach is overrated? What player should win the Heisman Trophy?

That last argument could be settled on Saturday.

If LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels should win the Heisman Trophy if he excels against Texas A&M.

That’s what LSU coach Brian Kelly thinks, anyway.

“I think he’s the best player in college football, and every opportunity that I get, I’m going to make sure that people understand that,” Kelly said earlier this week. “His efficiency, the way he takes over the game. I mean, if you’re on the other sideline, you just kind of, how do you defend him?

“We’ve seen virtually everything this year, from trap coverages to, you know, every kind of configuration, and it just hasn’t worked. So I’m going to talk about him as much as I can.”

Daniels has done a lot to talk about. In fact, he has done so much that he should be the leading Heisman contender over Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and Oregon quarterback Bo Nix.

Daniels has checked almost every criterion needed to win the Heisman.

Stats: Daniels leads the nation in total offense with 4,591 yards. That’s almost 900 yards more than anyone else. He has passed for 3,577 yards. He has rushed for 1,014. He also leads the nation with 36 touchdown passes.

“I think he’s the best player in college football, and every opportunity that I get, I’m going to make sure that people understand that.”
- LSU head coach Brian Kelly

Heisman moment: Daniels passed for 372 yards and three touchdowns and also rushed for 234 yards and two touchdowns in a 52-35 victory over Florida. He’s the only player in FBS history to exceed 350 passing yards and 200 rushing yards in a single game.

Team success: He’s led LSU to an 8-3 record.


That’s where detractors and West Coast advocates jump in.

How, they ask, could a player from a three-loss team be the Heisman leader?

Of course, they raise that question while forgetting Louisville’s Lamar Jackson in 2016, Florida’s Tim Tebow in 2007 and Texas’ Ricky Williams in 1998 were on teams that had at least three losses.

They also conveniently leave out what Daniels did in LSU’s three losses.

He passed for 346 yards and a touchdown and rushed for another 64 yards in a 45-24 season-opening loss to Florida State.

He passed for 414 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 99 yards and a touchdown in a 55-49 loss to Ole Miss.

He passed for 219 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 163 yards and a touchdown in a 42-28 loss to Alabama.

The Heisman is an individual award. Should Daniels be penalized because he doesn’t play defense?

Further, Daniels has produced more than Penix and Nix despite facing more challenging defenses.

Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports
Daniels passed for 189 yards and ran for 84 more in a 38-23 loss at A&M last year.

Penix has faced four opponents that are ranked 120th or worse in the nation in total defense. Just four Washington opponents are ranked in the top 50.

Nix has faced four opposing defenses that are ranked 115th or worse. Two more are ranked 94th (Washington State) and 97th (Washington). Only one Oregon opponent is ranked among the Top 50 (No. 19 Utah).

Compare that to Daniels.

He has faced six opponents which are ranked among the nation’s top 50 in total defense. Only one LSU opponent (126th Georgia State) is ranked 100th or worse.

Also, Daniels next faces A&M, which is ranked No. 8 in the nation in total defense.

He deserves the Heisman if he has a strong game against the Aggies.

There should be no argument.

Around the SEC

This week’s games: No. 12 Ole Miss at Mississippi State (Thursday); No. 9 Missouri at Arkansas (Friday); Texas A&M at No. 14 LSU; Kentucky at No. 10 Louisville; No. 8 Alabama at Auburn; Vanderbilt at No. 21 Tennessee; No. 5 Florida State at Florida; No. 1 Georgia at Georgia Tech; No. 24 Clemson at South Carolina

Who’s hot: Remember when there were questions about Georgia quarterback Carson Beck? He has answered them. Beck has played at a high level over the last month. He has completed 71.3 percent of his passes over the last four games. In that span, he has thrown for 1,173 yards and nine touchdowns with just one interception. He also led the Bulldogs to three wins over ranked opponents.

Who’s not: Florida's defense has been in a free fall to futility. The Gators have allowed at least 465 yards and 33 points in each of their last five games. Two games ago, LSU torched Florida for 701 yards and 52 points. Last week, Missouri amassed 508 yards of total offense and, in the final minute, converted a crucial fourth-and-long to set up a game-winning field goal. They’ve been particularly vulnerable to the pass. The last five opponents have averaged 317.2 passing yards and three touchdowns.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Rattler has thrown for 3,074 yards with 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season.

Keep an eye on: What little hope South Carolina has for notching a sixth victory required for bowl eligibility depends heavily on quarterback Spencer Rattler. Fortunately, for the Gamecocks, Rattler has been playing extremely well. He has completed 73.2 percent of his attempts and thrown seven touchdown passes over the last three games. He needs to be at his best against arch-rival Clemson. Last year, he passed for 360 yards and a couple of touchdowns in a 31-30 upset of the Tigers. But Clemson is ranked No. 8 nationally in passing defense.

Pressure is on: Texas A&M’s secondary has been stingy most of the season. In fact, the Aggies are ranked second in the SEC and 16th nationally in passing defense. However, A&M was burned for 374 passing yards by Miami. Ole Miss passed for 387 against A&M. Alabama had 321. A&M lost all of those games. The Aggies' secondary next faces perhaps its most challenging test. Not only are they facing Jayden Daniels, but LSU may have the best-receiving corps in the country. Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas both have more than 1,000 receiving yards. They’ve combined for 26 touchdowns. Kyren Lacy, LSU’s No. 3 receiver, has 448 receiving yards and six touchdowns. If A&M’s secondary holds up, the Aggies could post their first win in Baton Rouge since 1994. But if they can’t slow down LSU’s receivers, it could get ugly.

Best matchup: Kentucky’s run defense is ranked second in the SEC. The Wildcats have allowed just three opponents to rush for more than 118 yards. Those three opponents are Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. The Wildcats face another strong running game when they face state-rival Louisville. Louisville averages 185.5 rushing yards, which ranks 29th in the nation. Louisville’s running game has accumulated more than 200 yards in four games. The Cardinals have exceeded 180 rushing yards in eight games. But in its only loss, Louisville was held to 80 rushing yards by Pitt.

Discussion from...

SEC Round-Up: LSU's Daniels stands to end Heisman argument vs. A&M

3,011 Views | 3 Replies | Last: 7 mo ago by Jason Ag
How long do you want to ignore this user?
How long do you want to ignore this user?
"if A&M's secondary holds up"

Not feeling confident this is gonna happen tomorrow.
Jason Ag
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Robert Griffin III also won Heisman with 3 loss team.
Page 1 of 1
subscribe Verify your student status
See Subscription Benefits
Trial only available to users who have never subscribed or participated in a previous trial.