Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson starred three years ago in one of the more meaningful and memorable games of that college football season.
This weekend, the NFL gets to stage the show.
Watson and the Houston Texans will travel to Baltimore for a matchup with Lamar Jackson and the Ravens featuring two of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the league and both under 25. The pass-run threat posed by each already makes for good theater. What’s more, the Texans (6-3) and Ravens (7-2) have emerged as two of the strongest challengers to defending champion New England in the AFC. The Ravens beat the Patriots two weeks ago.
When Watson was at Clemson and Jackson at Louisville in 2016, the ACC opponents met in a midseason showdown of top-five teams in The Associated Press poll. Behind five touchdown passes and 397 yards of offense from Watson, Clemson won 42-36 despite a total of 457 yards and three touchdowns by Jackson.
Jackson won the Heisman Trophy that year, beating out Watson, who took the ultimate prize when the Tigers won the national championship. Watson was the 12th overall pick in the 2017 draft, and Jackson went with the 32nd overall selection in 2018. After overcoming s early obstacles, Watson with a torn ACL in his rookie year and Jackson with doubts that his slithery style would translate from college to pro, they’re both well on their way to becoming two of the best at their position.
Watson has totaled 2,711 yards and 23 touchdowns. For Jackson, it’s 2,738 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Though they’re mutual admirers, this matchup Sunday doesn’t mean they’ll be trying to outdo the other. There’s an opposing defense to maneuver against.
“I can’t control what they’re doing on their side or what Lamar’s got going on,” Watson said this week.