I get asked all the time “HP, lately guys have been winning the Heisman who were completely off the radar when the season started. Is there anyone out there who no one is talking about who can still make a late run at it?”
Honestly, there’s no one out there off the radar who I think can pull it off.
Okay, I know it seems like a stretch, but the point of the question is to come up with someone who is a true long shot.
Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall fits that bill. Here’s what would have to happen:
As it currently stands, Marshall has 1,138 passing yards, with 6 touchdown passes and 4 interceptions. He also has 388 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns. Fairly pedestrian numbers through six games, right?
But keep in mind that Marshall is coming off perhaps his best game yet, an upset of top 10 Texas A&M in College Station. Against the Aggies, Marshall threw for 236 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 100 more yards and two scores.
The JC transfer has shown steady progress in Gus Malzahn’s scheme and now has to be considered a legitimate weapon for the resurgent Tigers.
But let’s assume that Marshall continues to improve and that he ends up averaging 275 passing yards, 110 rushing yards and five combined touchdowns per game the rest of the way. That would leave him with 2,788 passing yards, 1,048 rushing yards and 40 total touchdowns by the time the Heisman vote is due.
Those are pretty good numbers. They would even be considered Heisman worthy.
But that’s just the stats end of it.
His numbers would stand out even more if Auburn won the rest of its games. That would mean beating Georgia in game 11 and then a gargantuan victory over No. 1 Alabama in game 12 with everyone and his mother watching. That would set up a berth in the SEC championship where Auburn could possibly punch its ticket to the BCS title game.
The combination of his impressive late-season stats and the unlikely national title run would catapult him into Heisman contention. And, who knows? Maybe Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston slip up and leave voters no choice but to reward the junior from Pineview, Ga.
Yes, it’s a long, long, long shot. But it’s the only out-of-the-box scenario I can think of that has a hint of plausibility. Besides, I’ve learned never to underestimate Malzahn’s ability to mold a quarterback.
Still, it’s far, far more likely that we’ll see one of the five players on the current HP Heisman Watch win the trophy. If this fantasy scenario comes about, however, be sure to remember where you read it first!