The Ohio State Buckeyes had the week off and were able to witness plenty of movement within the top 25. Unfortunately for Justin Fields, he had to watch a couple of his competitors for the Heisman Trophy play some spectacular games and increase their odds to be in New York at season’s end.
There are a handful of legit Heisman candidates right now, and in order for Fields to keep his place among the pack, he may need to play even better than he already has just to keep pace with the numbers that his competition is putting up.
Fields currently has 1,581 total yards and 26 total touchdowns, so there is no doubt that he’s been tremendous. However, guys like Tua Tagovailoa, Joe Burrow and Jalen Hurts are putting up the even better numbers, as they are more heavily relied upon in their respective offenses. The Buckeyes have developed a well-balanced attack that is great for the team ‘s success on the field, but is not exactly a system that will allow Fields to have the 400+ yard games that he will need to become a Heisman finalist.
And don’t forget that he has another player in his own conference in Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor that is playing spectacular; if any non-quarterback is going to earn a trip to New York, it’ll likely be him.
At the moment Fields is +900 and is a distant fourth to Tua, Hurts and Burrow who are all +300 or lower.
So what exactly has to happen for Fields to have a real chance?
There is still much of the season to play, so there is no reason for Buckeye fans to panic about their QB not making the Heisman cut. Ohio State still has plenty of marquee games to play against Wisconsin, Penn State, and Michigan that could help Fields, should he continue his impressive play.
Additionally, the Buckeyes will have the spotlight fully on them this Friday when they head to Northwestern. If OSU is able to run the table, Fields will be a massive part of the team’s success, and even if he isn’t putting up video game numbers, voters won’t be able to deny how important he is to the team. Currently, he’s third in the nation in points responsible for with 156, and sixth in passing efficiency, so he’s certainly playing like one of the best in the country.
However, it does look like the Buckeyes may have to be undefeated for Fields to have a legit shot. Tagovailoa and Burrow have separated themselves and their head-to-head matchup in November is looking to be a shootout so it might not matter who wins in relation to the Heisman.
A 12-0 or 11-1 SEC player with the stats they’re on course to put up won’t be left out. Then with Hurts, he wasn’t outstanding against Texas, but with the Big 12’s lack of defense, that will give him plenty of opportunities to improve upon that with huge statistical opportunities moving forward.
Fields is no doubt playing at a level worthy of Heisman notoriety, but unless Ohio State is top four in the country, or OSU begins airing it out he could be stuck just on the outside of a finalist spot. And for head coach Ryan Day, there is obviously no reason to prioritize individual awards given how successful the team has been running a balanced scheme, especially since the running game has become even more important in recent weeks.
Surely Fields would prefer at national title trophy over the Heisman, but let’s not pretend that winning the biggest individual trophy in sports isn’t something that every college football player doesn’t dream of.
Over the next few weeks, I will be looking at where other Buckeyes stand in relation to some of the biggest individual awards. Currently, I’m keeping my eye on:
- Davey O’Brien Award: Justin Fields
- Doak Walker Award: J.K. Dobbins
- Bronko Nagurski Trophy: Chase Young
- Chuck Bednarik Award: Chase Young
- Jim Thorpe Award: Jeff Okudah