Those two games were against overmatched opponents, though. Then-No. 2 Florida State came next, and Jackson dismantled the Seminoles with ease. He recorded 362 yards and five total touchdowns in three quarters in a 63-20 victory that sent a clear message: Jackson had to be considered the Heisman favorite.
How could he not be after producing 18 touchdowns in three weeks? The yards and touchdowns kept piling up, including a whopping performance against then-No. 5 Clemson; Jackson compiled 457 yards and three touchdowns in a last-second, 42-36 loss.
Jackson’s stat line against the two toughest teams on his schedule: 511 yards passing, 308 yards rushing, eight touchdowns and two interceptions.
His season did not end as prolifically as it began, with consecutive losses to Houston and Kentucky that some thought might curtail his Heisman chances. Still, Jackson won ACC Player of the Year honors from the media and coaches, and he took home the Walter Camp Player of the Year and Maxwell Award.
“To be able to stand up here with all the former winners, I’m extremely proud to represent this class and Louisville as their first Heisman Trophy winner,” said Jackson, who wore a Louisville-red velvet blazer with shiny black lapels. “For my teammates, it’s an award for all of us. I can’t wait to cherish it with all of you.”
Jackson became the youngest player to win the Heisman at 19 years, 337 days — just five days younger than 2013 winner Jameis Winston — and just the fourth sophomore to take home the trophy. He joins Johnny Manziel (2012) as the only Heisman winners to throw for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a season. Quarterbacks have won the Heisman Trophy in 14 of the past 16 years.
When he heard his name called, Jackson said his heart started racing.
“Man, I almost cried,” he said. “To hear my name called with all those great players, I was overwhelmed.”
His coach, Bobby Petrino, said after that ceremony that he was “very nervous” for his quarterback.
“I had no idea how the vote was going to come out,” Petrino said. “I want you to know how proud I am of Lamar. He’s a young man that prepared extremely hard, went out on the field and played as hard as he possibly could and did a great job being a leader for this football team.”
Jackson credited his mother, Felicia Jones, and said the trophy will go anywhere she decides to put it. Jones raised Jackson as a single mom and would put on football pads to help her son work on his game when he was a kid.
“Everything I do is for my mother,” Jackson said Saturday.