Heisman Watch: Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes' record-setting campaign
Six of the last 10 Heisman Trophy winners have appeared in the national championship game the same year as picking up the award. That serves as evidence that team success certainly factors into one’s chances at winning the honor.
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While taking a backseat to Lamar Jackson and others in quarterback talks this season, Mahomes is rather quietly on pace to break numerous passing records.
The junior out of Whitehouse, Texas, is just one passing yard off the pace (473.3) of breaking former Houston quarterback David Klinger’s single-season high mark in 1990 for yards per game and is well on his way to obliterating former Red Raider B.J. Symons’ record for total offensive yards in a season.
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Symons finished 2003 with 5,976 yards through the air and on the ground. If Mahomes can keep up his average of more than 500 offensive yards per game, he’ll be the first player at any level of college football to cross the 6,000-yard plateau.
As for single-game records, Mahomes has already taken care of that as well. In a signature Big 12 shootout with Oklahoma this past weekend in Lubbock, Mahomes set a new single-game offensive yards mark with 819 as well as the passing yards mark with 734, to go along with seven total touchdowns.
Mahomes was one pass attempt short of tying the single-game record as he finished 52-of-88 on the day. He had two of his receivers go for more than 160 yards and only threw one interception despite all the predictable passing situations.
Texas Tech ultimately fell to the No. 16 Sooners 66-59, but it was Mahomes’ grand showing that stole the spotlight.
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Going beyond the simple stats, Mahomes displayed what makes him such an effective weapon under center against Oklahoma. He possesses decent speed and escapability for a pocket passer, makes good decisions on the run-option and is an accurate passer on the move.
Then, of course, he also has a cannon of an arm as seen on this 56-yard dime at about the 1:25 mark of this Saturday's highlights:
Critics will undoubtedly point to Texas Tech’s mediocre 3-4 record and say that Mahomes is just a product of the Red Raiders’ run and gun, pass-happy offense to justify why he shouldn’t be a legitimate Heisman candidate.
And these arguments do have some merit. Part of measuring one’s season-long performance is taking one’s contributions to team success into account — whether that’s setting his team up for a title shot or simply overcoming low preseason expectations.
So with the Red Raiders currently playing under-.500 football, Mahomes is definitely at a disadvantage.
However, Texas Tech will have plenty of opportunities down the stretch to make some noise in the Big 12. Its next three games are against TCU, Texas and Oklahoma State.
This trio of programs all had homes in the AP Top 25 the first few weeks of the season. While it’s been extremely rough sledding since then for all three, these games will serve as a test to see exactly where the Red Raiders stack in the Big 12.
If they can survive this upcoming stretch and move into the conference’s middle of the pack, they’ll be riding some momentum right into their season finale against No. 8 Baylor, which is currently one of nine undefeated FBS teams remaining.
Now, Texas Tech hasn’t given college football followers much reason to believe it can hang in there with a top 10 team for a full 60 minutes, but it’s worth pondering.
The Bears have started slow on a handful of occasions this year before turning it on in the second half to put the game well out of reach. However, it would be unwise to fall behind early against a different animal of an offense in Mahomes and the Red Raiders.
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If Mahomes lights up Baylor’s defense early and puts the Bears in an insurmountable hole, Texas Tech can end its regular season on a high note with a possible top 10 upset.
Understandably, these are pretty big “ifs” for a Red Raiders team that’s given up 44 points per game on defense and is now 0-2 against ranked opponents this year. But from a personal standpoint, Mahomes has put up unprecedented numbers this year that deservedly land him in the award discussion either way.
Mahomes already has a couple NCAA records to his name this year and has his eye on some more to wrap up his junior campaign. Will he check off “Heisman Trophy” on his growing list of accomplishments as well?