College football fans will be in store for a real treat when the USC Trojans take on the Washington State Cougars in Week 5, and it has everything to do with the quarterback battle between USC’s Sam Darnold and Washington State’s Luke Falk.
So most people will likely be focused on the rankings of the two teams (USC is ranked No. 5 and Washington State is ranked No. 16), and if the Trojans are College Football Playoff contenders or not. Still, when Darnold and Falk take the field on Friday, two of the best quarterbacks in the nation will be going at it.
This quarterback battle is why we love college football so much — well, at least one of the reasons, that is.
It’s all in the numbers.
Darnold is coming off of a season in which he threw for 3,086 yards, 31 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. In the process, he led the Trojans to nine wins in a row to close out the season, if you will, which included a victory against the Penn State Nittany Lions in the Rose Bowl. As a result of all of that, he entered the 2017 season as a Heisman favorite.
Sure, he hasn’t exactly been the best quarterback in the sport from a stats standpoint this season, but his Trojans remain undefeated with plenty of big-stage games left, such as the one this weekend against the Cougars.
Handing the ball over to Falk, he has been a beast during his college career, and you can look at his 4,000-plus yards and 38 touchdown passes in back-to-back seasons to figure that one out. As for this season, he is doing what he apparently does best — making it rain in the form of TDs. Falk has 14 touchdown passes to just one interception in 2017.
While Darnold remains one of the most talked about players in college football (at least for this season), Falk is quietly putting up the stats.
Case in point: Darnold has recorded 1,225 passing yards, nine touchdowns and seven interceptions this season. Those aren’t horrible stats for the sophomore by any means, but they also don’t scream Heisman winner (well, at least not at this point in the season). Meanwhile, Falk’s 1,378 passing yards are good for fifth-best in the country, and his 14 touchdown passes rank him at No. 2 in the nation in that category.
If the Cougars manage to pull off the upset, two things will likely happen: (1) Washington State will move up the rankings, and (2) Falk will move up the Heisman board.
Perfect records, College Football Playoff hopes and Heisman dreams are all on the line in this contest (side note: there’s still plenty of football left to be played, meaning a lot can happen now until the end of the season).
Nonetheless, the quarterback battle is reason enough to make this the game of the week, and a must-watch for anyone looking for some fireworks.