By Kevin McGuire
The Heisman Trophy race enters the final weekend of the season, and it seems to be a fairly wide-open competition for invites to New York. So why wouldn’t the nation’s leader in passing yards and touchdowns deserve some consideration?
QB Derek Carr, Fresno State
Few quarterbacks in college football have put up the kind of passing numbers Fresno State’s Derek Carr has this season. In leading Fresno State to a Mountain West Conference division championship and the conference’s first conference championship game, Carr passed for a nation-leading 4,462 yards and 45 touchdowns while being picked off just five times all year. He is the only quarterback in the country averaging over 400 yards per game. Oregon State’s Sean Mannion has the next average with 366.9 ypg.
What makes Carr’s numbers even more impressive is the fact that he did so in eleven games, compared to 12 games for most others. Fresno State had one game at Colorado cancelled this season due to flooding in Colorado in September. A make-up date was unable to be put together, perhaps because Fresno State needed to keep this weekend open for a potential conference championship game. Colorado managed to fill its schedule with a game, but Fresno State was unable to do the same. Still, Carr leads the nations in passing yards and passing touchdowns.
Carr may have been putting up incredible numbers, but Fresno State’s pass-heavy offensive system often leaves people to overlook some of his attributes, especially when playing in a conference that is not one of the automatic qualifying conferences. Carr is instead thrown in the same mix as guys like Kellen Moore of Boise State and Jordan Lynch at Northern Illinois. They need a perfect record and gaudy numbers. This is where Carr now falls short, as San Jose State upset Fresno State last weekend to be removed from the BCS-busting chase. Lynch and Northern Illinois continue their pursuit this week, and Lynch appears to be a potential invitee to New York.
Carr will be punished in the Heisman conversation because his team’s defense had a horrible afternoon, costing the team a win. San Jose State put 62 points on the scoreboard and quarterback David Fales passed for 547 yards and six touchdowns. That is the only way Carr’s 519 yards and six touchdowns could have been overshadowed as Fresno State scored 52 points.
Heisman Match-Ups of the Week
With conference championships to be decided, a number of Heisman hopefuls have a chance to end their season with a lasting impression. Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston leads the Seminoles against Duke in the ACC Championship Game with a spot in the BCS Championship on the line. Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch leads the Huskies against Bowling Green, needing one more win for a potential return trip to the BCS party. Baylor’s Bryce Petty hopes to end his season on a high note at home against Texas as well, with at least a share of the Big 12 title still within reach.
Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.