No clear Heisman favourite

Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images.

By David Hollinshead, Contributor

It’s what every college football player competes for, right? No matter what school you go to, you’re able to win the most prestigious award in college football: the Heisman Trophy, presented every year to the player that is deemed, well, the best player in college football. Every year before the season even starts, you’ll have experts argue over who will deserve to win the top award, and usually the eventual recipient will be in the conversation.

This year, there seems to be no Heisman favourite. We’ve gotten to the point in the college football where the Heisman Watch List starts to look relevant, and there is no player who has really made a jump at the award. University of Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley came into this year as the Heisman favourite, whose hopes for the award are slowly disappearing. His stats aren’t necessarily bad, with a 150 passer rating, 1,308 yards, and 15 touchdowns to five interceptions, but the one thing that made him slip was a loss to state rival Stanford that caused the USC QB to slip to fifth on the list. The Trojans lost to the Cardinals 21–14. Barkley also has a better running game behind him than anticipated after USC recruited Silas Redd from Penn State after the scandal there. Barkley looks to be a first round pick in this April’s NFL Draft.

De’Anthony Thomas for the Oregon Ducks was another player that looked to be atop the Heisman list, but finds himself ranked fourth. Thomas is an absolutely electric playmaker for Oregon who can do it all. His official position is running back, but he also plays receiver, and returns kicks. None of Thomas’ individual stats stand out, which might be his biggest setback. He only has 377 rushing yards, despite his 9.2 yards per carry, including six for touchdowns. He also has 205 receiving yards and three touchdowns. In total, Thomas has 582 yards and nine touchdowns. In three games, that is very impressive, with almost 100 yards of total offense averaged each game.

Oregon’s other running back is also on the Heisman list, which brings Thomas down. Kenjon Barner is the team’s more conventional running back, but he also sweats talent, ranking eighth on the list. Barner actually has more yards in total than Thomas does, including more touchdowns. Barner has 727 yards on the ground, 111 yards receiving and nine to one touchdowns respectively, but it’s Thomas’ big play ability that puts him above Barner.

This year’s Heisman race seems to have ultimately come down to two quarterbacks. Ranked second is quarter back Braxton Miller from Ohio State. The Buckeyes run an offense that deflates the QB’s passing stats, but bolsters their rushing yards. Miller looks like a running back that can throw the ball every now and again, and is a huge play maker. Ohio State is currently undefeated including a blow out against number 21 ranked Nebraska 63–38. In this game, Miller ran for 186 yards, including a 72–yard touchdown run, giving him 763 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on the ground for the year. Miller also boasts a 145.0 passer rating with 1,060 yards, but only nine touchdowns to three interceptions.

The current Heisman leader is West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Geno Smith, and I think most people would agree with this pick. Smith is absolutely lighting it up this season statistically. Up until their last game against Texas Tech, West Virginia was undefeated. The game against Baylor University was one that any football fan could watch over and over again. The final score was 70–63 as Smith had an absolute field day, throwing all over the Baylor Bears’ defense. Smith threw more touchdowns than incompletions, going 45 of 51 for 656 yards, eight touchdowns and not a single interception. You read that right. If you think those numbers are impressive, look at his stats for the year. He has a passer rating of 202.4, thrown for 1,996 yards, 24 touchdowns, all without throwing a single interception all year.

Smith started the year against less than impressive talent, which was why it took him awhile to gain the national attention, but after the Baylor victory, all eyes were in his direction. After that, he looked great against a strong defense in Texas. They don’t have an easy schedule left, against number six ranked Kansas State, TCU, Oklahoma State, and number 13 Oklahoma. Even TCU and Oklahoma State were ranked at the beginning of the year. If Smith can continue these kinds of video game numbers against the toughest competition, he’ll be the one hoisting the Heisman Trophy at the end of the year.