Justin Fields was a Heisman finalist in 2019, landing in third place in the final election.
At the time of the selection, Fields had an astounding 40 touchdown passes to a solo interception. He ended the year with a total of 41 touchdowns to three interceptions thanks to a rough game at the Fiesta Bowl. But even then, he finished with a better touchdown-to-interception ratio than Heisman winner Joe Burrow. Considering that Burrow had just recorded what was probably the best season by a quarterback in college football history, that is impressive.
This season Fields has been off to an amazing start. In fact, this opening performance might be the best three-game stretch of his career. Fields already has a 86.7 completion percentage, 302.7 passing yards per game, and a passer rating of 222.4 Without throwing a single pick, Fields has eleven passing touchdowns to eleven incompletions.
Fields was voted by the Heisman electors as the third-best quarterback in college football a year ago. He looks like a much improved version of himself, even when he didn’t have much he needed to improve.
Justin Fields is clearly going to be a Heisman finalist once again. But the competition is going to be even more fierce this season.
A Heisman trophy victory for Justin Fields is possible in 2020. But it’s going to be extremely difficult.
Justin Fields Hesiman Chances In 2020
Fields has been climbing up Heisman boards steadily all season. The Big Ten’s delay has worked against him, but he may be able to overcome.
Fields is playing well and people are noticing. But it’s one thing to play well. Winning the Heisman is another thing altogether.
Fields In 2019 vs. Fields In 2020
Through three games last year, Fields had yet to establish himself as a Heisman hopeful.
It was also his first three games under Ryan Day. In fact, it was Day’s first three games as the full-time head coach. Ohio State played a brand-new quarterback in a brand-new system.
Fields’ first three games, he played against Florida Atlantic, Cincinnati, and Indiana. He completed 52 of his 74 passes in those games for a 70.3 completion percentage. His of ratio nine touchdowns to no interceptions foreshadowed his season. He threw for 657 yards, and rushed for 113 yards on 25 attempts for four scores.
If that start was great, then his start to 2020 is phenomenal.
Through three games against Nebraska, Penn State, and Rutgers this year, Fields already has 83 passing attempts. He has completed a miraculous 72 of them for a 86.7 completion percentage. There are still no interceptions on the books, but has 908 passing yards and 13 total touchdowns.
Fields is already far ahead of where he was last season by every metric.
How He’s Improved From Last Year
There are a few factors that will help Fields improve his standing from last year.
As mentioned earlier, his first three games of last year were his first three career starts. Not only his he in year two in this system, but he is in year two of being a starter.
His receivers cast is better too. Fields has a year of chemistry with Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, and Jeremy Ruckert. Not only is Fields’ connection with all three of them stronger, but they are all better football players.
Ironically, another helping factor is that his supporting cast in the running game has taken a step back. The Buckeyes don’t have a replacement for J.K. Dobbins, which puts more pressure on Fields. Day can’t rely on a 2,000-yard running back this year, so Fields has to throw more. So far, he is up for the challenge.
What He Will Work Against
Last season, Fields didn’t have much of a chance. The Heisman trophy was a one-horse race with Burrow leading the pack. But this season, Trevor Lawrence, Mac Jones, Kyle Trask, and Zach Wilson are making the race competitive.
Unfortunately, Fields won’t have as many games under his belt. The other four front-runners have had several weeks of a head-start on Fields. If the final comes down between Fields and Jones, then Jones will have the benefit of the doubt with the extra games he has played.
This weeks’ cancellation against Maryland will not help.
The field this year is as tough as it ever has been. Fields is playing well, but the competition is playing equally well.
Ohio State has five games remaining. In order to come from behind in the Heisman race, Fields needs to keep playing at this level for the rest of the season.