Lynn Bowden Jr., a junior from the University of Kentucky, has been selected as the Manning Award Quarterback of the Week for the seventh week of the season. He earns the title in a competitive race against in-state rival Louisville’s Evan Conley in the Allstate Sugar Bowl’s Facebook contest. This is Bowden’s first time winning the honor.
Bowden, a standout wide receiver for the Wildcats, was pressed into emergency duty at quarterback due to injuries to UK’s top two signal-callers. Despite not having played quarterback since high school, Bowden rallied the Wildcats to a 24-20 victory over Arkansas. The junior led the team in passing and rushing, completing 7-of-11 for 78 yards and a touchdown along with 24 carries for 196 yards on the ground including two touchdowns. With 6:53 remaining and the Wildcats trailing by three, Bowden broke free for a go-ahead 24-yard touchdown run to cap a 75-yard drive.
The runner-up for Mr. Football in Ohio in 2016, the Youngstown product has been a reliable wide receiver for Kentucky over his career; he had 17 catches for 210 yards as a freshman and then led the team in catches (67), receiving yards (745) and TD catches (5) in 2018. This season, he has 30 receptions for 348 yards. However, his poise as a quarterback in the week-seven game allowed him to help his team overcome a sluggish start, erasing a 13-0 second-quarter deficit.
This week’s Quarterback of the Week honor adds another line to an already impressive resume for Bowden, as he was also named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Week and has been named a midseason first team All-American as an all-purpose player. He leads the SEC and ranks sixth nationally in all-purpose yards, averaging 149.33 per game.
Saturday night’s win over the Razorbacks snapped Kentucky’s three-game losing streak. The victory gives the Wildcats momentum heading into next week’s prime-time showdown against Georgia at 5:00 p.m. CT, on ESPN.
The battle for Quarterback of the Week came down to two quarterbacks from the Bluegrass State, as Bowden overcame a strong voting effort for Conley from Louisville. Conley led the Cardinals to a wild 62-59 upset over 19th ranked ACC opponent Wake Forrest. He completed 12-of-18 for 196 yards and two touchdowns with 79 rushing yards. Also garnering support this week was Jack Abraham of Southern Miss, who was 29-of-46 for 421 yards and three touchdowns. This game marked his third career 400-yard game as the Golden Eagles triumphed over North Texas 45-27.
While the Manning Award selected 30 quarterbacks for its preseason Watch List, additional quarterbacks are expected to be added to the Watch List later in the season. The 10 finalists for the honor will be announced on Thursday, November 28 and the winner is scheduled to be announced following the College Football Playoff National Championship.
In its first 15 years, the Manning Award has recognized the top names in college football. It has honored quarterbacks from 12 different schools and from four different conferences. The Big 12 Conference (Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield, Vince Young, Colt McCoy and Robert Griffin III) leads the way with five Manning Award honorees, while the Southeastern Conference (Johnny Manziel, Cam Newton, JaMarcus Russell and Tim Tebow) and the Atlantic Coast Conference (Deshaun Watson twice, Matt Ryan and Jameis Winston) have four Manning Award winners each. Oklahoma (Murray and Mayfield) joins Texas (McCoy and Young) as the only schools with two different winners.
All the Manning Award winners follow in the footsteps of the Mannings themselves. In college, Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning combined for over 25,000 passing yards and 201 touchdowns while playing in 10 bowl games and earning four bowl MVP awards. Archie was the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft, while both Peyton and Eli were selected No. 1 overall.
In addition to the Manning Award’s yearly honor, each week during the regular season, eight quarterbacks are recognized as Manning Quarterbacks of the Week. Sixty players from 59 different schools were honored during the 2018 season.