Last December, after posting some of the most eye-popping stats in college football history, Jackson stood on a stage to accept the Heisman wearing a red suit coat with black lapels, offering a gracious speech with equal parts enthusiasm and humility.
Rene shot through the backfield, but in a moment that seemed to defy physics, he skimmed off the wiry Jackson, who then nonchalantly stepped up, spotted Jaylen Smith downfield, launched a laser that hit his receiver in stride, and then celebrated a 75-yard touchdown pass.
He helped Lousiville erase a 28-10 halftime deficit while racking up 457 total yards and three touchdowns in a game that ended when James Quick stepped out of bounds at the Clemson 3-yard line on fourth-and-12, just a few inches shy of a first down and a probable win over the eventual national champions.
Clemson fans, in particular, lauded the theory that Jackson's gaudy numbers were padded against weak competition, ignoring that he was on the bench for big chunks of blowouts, thrashed one of the ACC's powerhouses and, of course, utterly flustered the Tigers' own defense.
And perhaps if he can do that against the defending champs, against this dominant defensive line, against the critical fans who've dogged him for months, maybe that will be enough to finally convince the masses that they're witnessing college football's best player.
- Week 3 Preview: Jackson Vs. Clemson; Scouts Flock to LaramieU.S. News & World Report
- College football Week 3 primer: Heisman watch, upset picks, predictions and moreSporting News
- Louisville game means more to Clemson's Trayvon Mullen against cousin Lamar ...Anderson Independent Mail
- Cardinals host Clemson in big ACC battleNewsandtribune
- Final thoughts on Louisville-Clemson, including a predictionThe State (blog)
- College football matchups, Week 3: Lamar Jackson must be better vs. ClemsonCBSSports.com
- The Great Debate: Is Louisville's Lamar Jackson an NFL QB or a future NFL bust?Yahoo Sports
- Michaux: Venables, Clemson defense face tall taskThe Augusta Chronicle
- Clemson preparing for 'different environment' on Saturday at LouisvilleThe State