Think of it like a juicy Vegas prop . After one week of action, which college football player would you bet on to win multiple awards this season?
Defensive linemen and linebackers normally have an advantage—they're eligible to win the most awards—but the only one dominant enough to do so, South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney, sputtered out of the gate.
The past four winners of the Ted Hendricks Award (including Clowney himself in 2012) all started their season with at least two tackles for loss and one sack in Week 1.
Clowney posted a goose egg on both fronts.
From there focus shifts to the offensive side of the ball, where quarterbacks, especially since the "spread revolution," have dominated the big-name hardware. They're usually favored to win the Heisman, Maxwell, Walter Camp and (of course) Davey O'Brien Awards.
Despite impressive depth at the position, it seems absurd to bet on anything but a quarterback. And of all the capable signal-callers this season, none sticks out quite like Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater.
Why not start with the obvious. Unless you're the messiah reborn, you can't win the Heisman, Maxwell, O'Brien or Camp without prodigious talent. And though Teddy can't claim the former (we think...), he certainly has the latter.
He stands 6'3'', which isn't Peyton Manning size, but it's close to ideal in today's college football. He has a rocket for a right arm, especially zipping middle-third throws outside the numbers, and is (conservatively) one of the five most accurate passers in America.
No one doubts that Clowney is the most talented prospect in college football, but Bridgewater is close enough to draw No. 1 draft pick consideration—depending on the team—which would have been unthinkable three months ago.
B/R's Matt Miller had him going over Clowney in his latest (way too early) mock, likening him to a young Aaron Rodgers. Which is all to say, beyond reproach, that he's talented enough to win multiple awards.
Talent and numbers aren't a direct correlation, but numbers and accolades are. Stats may not be the only requisite for winning postseason awards, but they're one of the most important.
Bridgewater is good enough—and has enough weapons around him—to post gaudy numbers against anybody. Just ask Florida, whom Teddy shredded for a 96.3 QBR in the Sugar Bowl, if elite defenses bother him.
But given Louisville's 2013 schedule, those stats might just be the tip of the iceberg. In Week 1 against Ohio, Bridgewater finished 23-of-28 for 355 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. That's a remarkable blend of efficiency and volume, the likes of which, if prorated over an entire season, would make him a shoe-in for Heisman candidacy.
And Ohio was one of the better defenses he'll play.
Of the next eight teams Louisville plays, three are either from FCS (Eastern Kentucky) or got shredded by an FCS team last weekend (Connecticut and South Florida). The remaining five includes UCF, which might be a decent challenge, and four teams that allowed these numbers to inferior (as compared to Bridgewater) quarterbacks last week:
|Team||Opposing QB||CMP/ATT||Total YDS||Total TD||Rating|
|Kentucky||Brandon Doughty (WKU)||27/34||266||1||156.08|
|FIU||C.J. Brown (UMD)||20/23||386||5||232.62|
|Temple||Tommy Rees (ND)||16/23||341||3||238.97|
|Rutgers||Derek Carr (FRES)||53/74||494||5||144.57|
For the sake of context, AJ McCarron led the nation last year with a QB Rating of 175.28. Four of Bridgewater's next eight opponents—and not even the four worst—allowed an average rating of 193.06 to quarterbacks like Brandon Doughty and Tommy Rees, who could barely even hold his jockstrap.
Teddy might post some really special numbers this year.
Bridgewater is the anti-Johnny Manziel, a bastion of pleasantness both on the field and off. That might seem (and should be) superfluous, but if Bridgewater and Manziel are duking it out with similar numbers, it could be of genuine import.
Even before the Manning Academy incident and Signature-gate, Manziel spent his offseason partying and showing up on TMZ. Bridgewater spent his offseason on the local news after visiting sick fans at the school hospital.
Stuff like that shouldn't be taken into account for these awards, and in most cases they aren't. But the Manziel thing—in case you haven't noticed—has hiked up to epic proportions. Whether you love him or hate him is completely subjective and entirely fair.
But you can't deny that some people hate him.
These aren't computers voting for postseason awards, these are real, sentient people. Try as they might to separate football player from human being, with someone who gets scrutinized like Manziel, it's effectively impossible.
If he and Bridgewater have similar records and numbers, even though only one played against SEC defenses, voters might have Johnny Football fatigue.
And that would propel Teddy to the podium(s).