Former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson led his team to a national championship with a last-minute drive against Alabama. If the national title is on the line this season, which quarterback would a college football team want behind center?
NFL.com college football writer Chase Goodbread has an answer to that question. He ranked the top 17 signal callers that college teams should want with the ball in their hands with the game on the line.
Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield is ranked No. 1, followed by Louisville’s Lamar Jackson.
“Jackson is a big-play machine, generating huge chunks of yardage either by air or ground,” Goodbread wrote. “Better not play man defense in the two-minute drill, because if the receivers run deep enough routes to force DBs to turn their backs on Jackson, he can run at will for first downs.
“He won a lot of games last year by blowout scores, but Virginia was an exception. Down 25-24 with less than two minutes left, Jackson led an eight-play, 75-yard drive resulting in a game-winning 29-yard TD pass with 13 seconds left.”
Unfortunately, Jackson’s biggest last-minute drive fell short. At Clemson, in a game between a pair of 4-0 teams, Jackson and the Cardinals started a drive at their own 25-yard line with 3:08 left and down six.
Jackson had Louisville in a first-and-10 situation at the Clemson 12 with 1:19 to go, but that quickly became fourth-and-7 and then fourth-and-12 after a false start. With 33 seconds to go, Jackson completed a pass to James Quick near the first-down line, but Quick fell a yard short of the line to gain.
The only other ACC quarterback who made Goodbread’s list was Florida State sophomore Deondre Francois. It wasn’t a last-minute victory drive, but Francois led the Seminoles back from a 28-6 deficit to beat Ole Miss in his first start last season.