Heisman Watch: Ole Miss' Chad Kelly enters race after win over Alabama
Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly put up incredible numbers in the Rebels’ first two games this season, posting 557 yards passing and eight total touchdowns. But Kelly wasn’t really tested in those contests, as the Rebels faced Tennessee-Martin and Fresno State.
Ole Miss’ Week 3 tilt against Alabama was an important opportunity for Kelly, a chance to prove that his great play wasn’t simply a product of facing less-talented opponents.
Kelly took full advantage of it.
The junior signal caller led the Rebels to an upset victory over the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, throwing for 341 yards and posting four total touchdowns in the 43-37 shootout. There might not be a defense more intimidating than Alabama’s, and Kelly simply picked them apart.
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Kelly made multiple huge plays down the stretch, such as his 74-yard touchdown pass to Cody Core with 11:45 left in the fourth quarter and his 24-yard touchdown pass to Laquon Treadwell a little more than a minute later. Kelly’s TD connection with Treadwell pushed the Rebels lead to 19, which ultimately proved insurmountable for the Crimson Tide.
Kelly was also part of one of the craziest plays we’ve ever seen. We’re of course referring to his 66-yard touchdown pass to Quincy Adeboyejo. Kelly bobbled a high snap on the play and threw off his backfoot as he was about to get tackled by multiple Bama defenders. Somehow, after a deflection, the ball ended up in Adeboyejo’s hands and he took it for a score. Heisman Moment much?
Kelly’s season stats now sit at 898 yards passing, 12 total touchdowns, one interception and an efficiency rating of 205.7, the second highest-mark in the country.
Whether Kelly can keep this up remains to be seen. But he’s looked great so far and has a talented receiving core led by Treadwell and Core, which indicates future success. What will prove crucial for Kelly is whether or not Ole Miss can remain a playoff contender. The Rebels are tied for third in the AP Top 25 poll and they’ll ultimately need to finish the season around that mark if Kelly wants to make the trip to New York for the ceremony.
Still, as of Saturday, Chad “Swag” Kelly is in the Heisman discussion. That’s quite the accomplishment for someone who entered this season having thrown 17 total passes during his college football career.
My Top 3:
Leonard Fournette, LSU, RB
It’s Leonard Fournette’s world and we’re all just living in it. The sophomore posted 228 yards rushing and three touchdowns on Saturday against Auburn, pushing his season totals to 387 yards rushing and six touchdowns in just two games. Fournette not only looks like the best running back in college football today, he also looks like simply the game’s best overall player.
2. Nick Chubb, Georgia, RB
Chubb is having such a good season that he averaged 7.6 yards per carry on Saturday against South Carolina and his yards-per-carry average for the season decreased. In three games, he’s posted 468 yards rushing on 56 carries (8.4 YPC) and four rushing touchdowns. He’s a truly incredible back and will be in the Heisman discussion all season long.
3. Trevone Boykin, TCU, QB
Running backs are getting most of the Heisman shine this year, but Boykin is having a great season and deserves some of the spotlight. After a six-touchdown performance Saturday against SMU, Boykin is up to 12 total touchdowns for the season. He’s also amassed 895 yards passing and 148 yards rushing. He’s got the best Heisman case for a quarterback right now and that’s really important, considering 13 of the past 14 winners of the award have been signal callers.