Can a player from a school on NCAA postseason probation win the Heisman? Sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller of Ohio State seems like the best bet to join Andre Ware (1989) as the only player to pull that off. Talking to various Heisman voters, no one seems inclined to punish Miller for the past sins of the program. And not going to a bowl won’t hurt since the Heisman is a regular-season award, right?
But Miller can’t just have any ol’ season and win. He must blow things out of the water just like Ware did. Ware threw for 4,699 yards and 46 touchdowns in 11 games. At the time, those were ridiculous numbers. Furthermore, Ware benefited from a particularly weak Heisman field. The runner-up that year was the pedestrian running back Anthony Thompson of Indiana. Major Harris of West Virginia was third, but he had a better season in 1988. Tony Rice of Notre Dame was fourth. But any chance he had of winning the Heisman went bye-bye when Miami knocked off the No. 1 Irish late in the year.
Miller is off to a great start and his numbers are comparable to what Tim Tebow’s were after his first three games as a starting sophomore quarterback in Urban Meyer’s system back in 2007. He is on pace for 2,400 passing yards, 1,500 rushing yards and 48 total touchdowns in 12 games. Those numbers would pass the smell test for Heisman voters, even if he doesn’t get to play in the Big Ten title game. Next challenge for Miller comes at Michigan State on Sept. 29.
If he plays well in a win against the Spartans, look out.