The Heisman Trophy race is heading into the final stretch of the college football season, and Ohio State Buckeyes’ running back Ezekiel Elliott is still one of the favorites. However, if Elliot’s going to win the award, he’ll need a memorable final three games to bring the hardware home to Columbus.
There are no louder supporters for the Zeke for Heisman campaign than Ohio State fans. Elliott, who has easily become the single most important player on the Buckeye roster, certainly has a great case. With 15 straight 100 yard games, Elliott’s play has been one of the few bright spots on offense this season in Columbus. In fact, if it wasn’t for Elliot, this team could have lost to the likes of Indiana, Illinois, and Northern Illinois.
But Zeke isn’t alone as a strong contender for the highest honor in college football. If Elliott is going to be the first Heisman winner in Columbus since Troy Smith and the first Ohio State running back since Eddie George to bring home the hardware, he will have to really put on a show down the stretch. Ohio State’s schedule can, if all goes as planned, look like this.
Nov. 21 – Michigan State
Nov. 28 – Michigan
Dec. 5 – Big Ten Title Game (probably against Iowa)
That three game stretch presents the best opportunity to show the Heisman voters why he should take home the trophy. But what about the rest of the field? What would Elliott stand among the other top candidates? Lets compare some resumes and decide for yourself:
240 carries, 1,458 rushing yards, 19 touchdowns, seven 100 yard games,
220 carries, 1,425 rushing yards, 16 touchdowns, ten 100 yard rushing games
217-309 passing, 3,082 passing yards, 31 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, 183.9 Quarterback Rating
214 carries, 1,474 rushing yards, 17 touchdowns, seven 100 yard rushing games
216-308 passing, 2,593 passing yards, 23 passing touchdowns, 5 rushing touchdowns, 8 interceptions, 160.3 Quarterback Rating
Care to guess which player is Ezekiel Elliott? We’ll start with the quarterbacks since it’s pretty easy to tell Player C and Player E are passers. Player C is Baker Mayfield, who leads the resurgent Oklahoma Sooners. Mayfield and the Sooners may be able to crash the playoff party if he keeps this up. Hard to believe Texas Tech let this kid transfer away to a team knocking on the door of the playoffs and poised to win the Big 12 if they can win the Bedlam Game.
Player E? That’s the quarterback for the top ranked team in the country, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson. For once, the nation’s best team does not have its quarterback as the presumed favorite for the award. But his numbers paired with what could be the top seed in the playoffs will make a compelling argument.
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Player A and Player D appear to be almost identical. They have the same 100 yard and even 200 yard games. The carries and yardage are similar, with maybe a slight edge to player D with Player A scoring more often. Heck, they even come from the same conference. Player A is Alabama’s Derrick Henry and Player D is LSU’s Leonard Fournette.
That leaves Elliott as Player B, who wins on 100 yard games, albeit with fewer yards and touchdowns. Based on just numbers, Elliott could be overlooked, especially since both Alabama and LSU don’t have very strong passing attacks compared to Ohio State, where at least J.T. Barrett and Michael Thomas form the best quarterback-receiver duo of the three schools.
But sorry Buckeye fans, Elliott’s resume might not look as strong as the others. That’s not to say Elliott is not a deserving candidate and it is not saying that he cannot use a tough three-game Big Ten stretch to make a statement to the voters.
To join the likes of Cassidy, Janowicz, Horvath, Griffin, and George, Ohio State will need to let Zeke power the Buckeyes right into the playoffs.