Clemson could be the most underappreciated dominant schools in NCAA history. Since the creation of the college football playoffs, they have appeared in all but one. Of the three years they have made an appearance, they have played in three National Championships and won two of them. In 2019 they are ranked 3rd in the country and will face the Ohio State Buckeyes on December 28th to determine who plays in the National Championship game. The Clemson Tiger’s undefeated 2019 season is being led by quarterback sensation Trevor Lawrence. Statistically speaking, Trevor has been an outstanding quarterback. In his freshman year he had 3,280 yards, 30 touchdowns to only 4 interceptions, 8.3 yards per attempt, and a QB ratings of 157.6. Keep in mind the college football rating is different than the NFL’s. The NCAA passer rating system ranges from 1,261 (99 yard touchdowns every completion) to -731.6 (interception on every pass). The greatest college career passer rating record belongs to quarterback Ryan Dinwiddle who played for Boise State from 2000 to 2003 with a score of 168.9. The freshmen record for passer rating belongs to former Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Vick who had a score of 180.4 in 1999. In July of 2019, hosts Sharp and Shapiro talked about Trevor Lawrence’s soon to be sophomore season after he had just won the National Championship as a freshman. This discussion occurred before Joe Burrow’s legendary 2019 season who was very average at quarterback in all years prior admittedly.
Senior Producer Mike Babcock at TMZ joined The Vegas Take to give his opinion on a few things. Sharp asked him, “There is a wager out there in Vegas that Alabama or Clemson wins the National Champion, and I believe it’s -160 yes, +150 no. Where would you go on that and who would you say is your sleeper team this year to win it all”. Mike responded,
“To me Alabama is better than they were last year and I love both quarterbacks (Tua Tagovailoa and Trevor Lawrence) I would go for either of those guys as my quarterback”.
The reality is that Mr. Babcock was not far off. In just 9 games, Tua had 33 touchdowns to 3 interceptions, 11.3 yards per attempt, 2,840 yards, and a passer rating of 206.9. While he may not have eclipsed Joe Burrow’s current stats of 4,715 yards and 77.9 percent completion percentage, those projected stats across the remainder of the season would be enough for a Heisman trophy in almost any year. Lawrence has also shown improvements in his game and has 3,172 yards, 9.4 yards per attempt, 34 touchdowns to 8 interceptions, and a 176.5 passer rating. Despite an undefeated season, Lawrence nuanced improvement have been overshadowed by Heisman finalist Justin Fields and Jalen Hurts. Going into the season, Babcock and Sharp were correct to project something more out of Trevor.
Sharp had something interesting to say about who believed the surprise teams to be:
“I kind of like Michigan and LSU to be the sleepers this year”.
I have to give credit where credit is due. I found the odds for the 2020 National Championship from SB Nation in January of 2019 that had LSU at 30/1 odds. This is in comparison to favorites like Alabama and Clemson with 5-2 and 2-1 odds respectively. If Sharp ends up being right that would be quite an amazing feat. On the other side of things, if Trevor Lawrence is able to beat Joe Burrow and win back to back National Titles there must be a discussion. After being excluded from the Heisman discussion, he could show the college football world what being a great quarterback really means. His resume could include championships against Tua Tagovailoa and Joe Burrow. It’s hard to argue he can’t at least be considered one of the all-time greats. I suppose it depends on how much weight you put to big wins versus stats. To me, Trevor Lawrence’s career in dependent on whether or not he wins the 2020 National Championship. Beating Alabama in a bowl game is no easy task. In fact, former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson was able to do it and he is one of the best players in the NFL. Trevor Lawrence also is not nearly as impressive stat wise as Watson which is why his performance is so important this year. In my opinion, he will become the next Andy Dalton. I hope he proves me wrong.
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