College Football Insider: The Heisman goes to ... a QB, of course

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 7, 2013 - 10:20 PM

RBs taking back seat for top award.


Oregon’s Marcus Mariota is among the consensus Heisman Trophy favorites this year — all quarterbacks. Barring an upset, it appears that a QB will win the Heisman for the 12th time in 14 years.

Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez • Associated Press,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

When Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk declared, “I’m going to win the Heisman” this year, it caught the attention of college football fans, but there was one problem: Running backs are becoming afterthoughts in the annual Heisman Trophy discussion.

Ricky Williams and Ron Dayne gave running backs back-to-back Heisman wins in 1998 and 1999, but since the turn of the century, only two running backs have won it — Reggie Bush in 2005 and Mark Ingram in 2009. Bush’s Heisman has since been rescinded because of NCAA violations at USC.

Last year, when Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman, Kenjon Barber was the top running back among voters, and he finished ninth.

This year, on’s latest “Heisman Watch,” the top five candidates are all quarterbacks — Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, Manziel, Bryce Petty and A.J. McCarron.

Entering Thursday’s showdown with Oklahoma, Seastrunk wasn’t even the best Heisman candidate on Baylor’s team. That was Petty, who led the nation in passing efficiency (219.0), and averaged 350.4 passing yards per game.

In this age of warp-speed offenses, the running back numbers simply aren’t as eye-popping as the quarterbacks’. Last year, Manziel averaged 109 yards rushing per game, to go along with his 285 yards per game passing average.

No quarterback put up those kind of total offense numbers when Dayne won his Heisman in 1999. Purdue quarterback Drew Brees led the nation in total offense that year with 4,086 yards — 1,030 fewer than Manziel had last year.

Dayne was the classic workhorse running back, averaging 28 carries and 170 rushing yards per game.

This year, Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey leads the nation with 153.1 rushing yards per game. He averages 27 carries per game, so he’s a workhorse. But many of the other top running backs just don’t touch the ball as much. Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah and Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon are two of the elite running backs in the Big Ten. Abdullah averages 19.6 carries per game, and Gordon averages 15.5.

Seastrunk, a transfer from Oregon, remains an extremely potent threat. Entering Thursday, he was averaging 9.1 yards per carry and had rushed for at least 100 yards in 10 of 11 games dating to last season. But Baylor’s games have been so lopsided this year, he often finds himself sitting after halftime, leaving him with just 13.7 carries per game.

The highlights of Seastrunk’s 11 touchdown runs have been lost in the endless loop of touchdown passes from Oregon’s Mariota (20), Florida State’s Winston (24) and Manziel (26).

Those three are the consensus Heisman favorites this year. Barring a sudden turn of events, it looks like a quarterback will claim the Heisman for the 12th time in 14 years.

It wasn’t always like this. The Heisman has been handed out since 1935, and 34 of the first 49 winners were running backs, including the Gophers’ Bruce Smith in 1941.

Voters are asked to select college football’s “most outstanding player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.” The trophy itself is a bronze statue of former New York University running back Ed Smith.

The award went to a running back every year from 1972 to 1983. Remembering the winners during that span — Johnny Rogers, John Cappelletti, Archie Griffin (twice), Tony Dorsett, Earl Campbell, Billy Sims, Charles White, George Rogers, Marcus Allen, Hershel Walker and Mike Rozier — it’s hard not to think of the Heisman as a running back’s award.

Now it seems like an award for the game’s most potent quarterback. This isn’t bad. It’s just different.

Big Ten Short Takes

• Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio improved to 5-1 against Michigan last week, all but eliminating the Wolverines from the Legends Division race. Saturday, the Wolverines will try to spoil Nebraska’s chances, as the Cornhuskers visit Ann Arbor, where Michigan is 19-0 under Brady Hoke.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


NY Mets - B. Colon 6:05 PM
Washington - T. Roark
Baltimore - U. Jimenez 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - B. McCarthy
Kansas City - Y. Ventura 6:05 PM
Cleveland - D. Salazar
Seattle - F. Hernandez 6:07 PM
Toronto - R. Dickey
Chicago WSox - S. Carroll 6:08 PM
Detroit - D. Price
Philadelphia - C. Hamels 6:10 PM
Miami - H. Alvarez
Pittsburgh - G. Cole 6:10 PM
Atlanta - A. Wood
Milwaukee - M. Fiers 6:10 PM
Cincinnati - J. Cueto
Tampa Bay - A. Cobb 6:10 PM
Boston - C. Buchholz
Houston - B. Oberholtzer 7:05 PM
Texas - N. Martinez
St. Louis - S. Miller 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - K. Hendricks
Arizona - A. Chafin 7:10 PM
Minnesota - K. Gibson
LA Angels - W. LeBlanc 9:05 PM
Oakland - S. Gray
San Francisco - M. Bumgarner 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke
Colorado - J. De La Rosa 9:10 PM
San Diego - R. Erlin
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Buffalo 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Green Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Carolina 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Detroit 9/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Tampa Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville 9/28/14 3:05 PM
San Diego
Atlanta 9/28/14 3:25 PM
Philadelphia 9/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
New Orleans 9/28/14 7:30 PM
New England 9/29/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Carolina 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh 6:00 PM
Boston 6:30 PM
Nashville 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Philadelphia 6:30 PM
Detroit 7:30 PM
San Jose 8:00 PM
Arizona 9:00 PM
Vancouver 9:30 PM
San Jose
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM


Golden Gavel by Star Tribune

Time left for great deals

Bid thru Sept. 29




question of the day

Poll: Which struggling team is in the worst shape?

Weekly Question


Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters