The curse of the Heisman front runner continues.
For the eighth-straight season, the player tabbed as the preseason Heisman favorite has fallen by the wayside in the race for the sports most prestigious award.
This time, it’s Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller who has fallen victim.
Miller won’t play against the Cal Bears on Saturday, which means he has now missed all but a few plays of the last two games. While past Heisman winners like Charles White and Charlie Ward have been able to capture the trophy despite missing one game, no player in modern times has missed two games and still come back to win.
Stats have become central to the Heisman since Tim Tebow amassed 55 total touchdowns in 2007. The quarterbacks who have won the Heisman since that season (including Tebow) have all played in some kind of spread scheme and have averaged 4,700 yards and 47 touchdowns. Miller looked to have the ability to be the next in that line, but even if he comes back healthy next week, he has a ton of catchup to do with regards to his numbers. While Ohio State could very well end up undefeated, the fact that it could still do so without the full services of Miller the whole way through illustrates that, while he’s a great player, he may not be that vital to his team after all.
Of course Miller, a junior, will still have a chance to come back next season and vie for the trophy. But he’s going to have to show that he can stay healthy for an entire season.
Or even an entire game.
So who’s the front runner now? Look west. Oregon’s Marcus Mariota just threw for 456 yards and four touchdowns against Tennessee.
The Heisman could be a Duck’s to lose.
Oregon touched the ball 15 times in its 41-24 win over Colorado on Saturday night. Jeff Lockie played seven of them, including the first. Taylor Alie played eight.
As long as Vernon Adams nurses his broken finger, this appears to be the plan for the Ducks.
“They’d both done enough good things in practice last week to merit playing,” head coach Mark Helfrich told the Oregonian. “We just felt looking at the game plan we could parcel out aspects with each.”
“Of course you want to get into a better rhythm but that’s how it goes,” Lockie said. “We’re just going to play the best we can and as long as we’re winning games, there’s no problem with me.”
Lockie completed 8-of-11 throws for 54 yards with an interception while rushing five times for 18 yards. Alie connected on 4-of-9 throws for 83 yards and a touchdown while adding 22 yards on five carries. Not quite Marcus Mariota numbers from either signal caller.
“It’ll just depend on the game plan,” Helfrich said of Alie and Lockie. “I think those guys they have differences. There are some strengths and weaknesses to different areas of their game and so we’ll think about that going forward of just how the Washington State game plan comes out.”
With Oregon playing Washington and Washington State (combined Pac-12 wins thus far: zero) before a tough closing stretch, Helfrich and company have time to alternate signal callers.
The polls are meaningless. Especially any poll that isn’t the College Football Playoff top 25 and even then, as the TCU learned late last season, even the penultimate ranking is as meaningless as the paper they’re metaphorically written on.
Still, they’re catnip to college football fans and observers. Place them in front of us and we can’t help but gnaw on them.
And with that said, a bit of milestone was reached in Sunday’s Associated Press Top 25, as the SEC was completely shut out of the top five.
That group breaks down as follows:
- Ohio State
- Michigan State
An SEC free top five hasn’t happened in nearly five full years; October 10, 2010 was the last time such a thing occurred. Oddly enough, two of the same five culprits occupied that ranking as well:
- Ohio State
- Boise State
Underscoring the lesson of the first paragraph, eventual national champion Auburn checked in at No. 6. Those Tigers moved up a spot the following week and never looked back.
None of this means anything at all, until it does. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun along the way.