The Heisman Trophy is perhaps one of the most iconic awards in all of sports and is given to the most outstanding player in college football. The bronze statue stands 13.5 inches tall weighing nearly 45 pounds. But even if the trophy were 100 pounds, the joy and excitement it brings to the winner would help jolt the trophy right over his head to show the world his greatest athletic achievement to date.
From Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary in 1984 to Desmond Howard striking to the pose in 1991, every Heisman winner seems to have that one moment that puts them over the top. And even after all these years, the question remains, are we really giving the award to the best player in college football? In recent memory, it seems to be a matter of who is the best quarterback instead of who is best player. Well today, I am here to tell you about the best player in the Big 12. He is not a quarterback. He is Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard. And while he is one hell of a football player, there are plenty of mountain-sized obstacles in his way. To me, if Chuba can overcome these things, then there should be no doubt that he should at least be in New York City hoping for his name to be called as the 86th winner of the Heisman Trophy.
History Says No
After rushing for over 2,000 yards last season, Chuba Hubbard has a chance to do something that only two other players in college football history have accomplished. That is rushing for over 2,000 yards in back to back seasons. Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor did in in 2018 and 2019 and before that, Troy Davis was the only player to ever do it when he was running wild for Iowa State back in 1995 and 1996. But even if Chuba eclipses the 2,000-yard mark once again, will it be enough to win the Heisman? Since 2000, only three running backs have won the coveted trophy (Reggie Bush, Mark Ingram, and Derrick Henry) although technically it is two since the NCAA took away Reggie’s.
It will take a perfect storm for Chuba to bring home the Heisman. Not only will he have to rush for over 2,000 yards but he cannot have any big-time quarterbacks putting up huge numbers. We all know voters favor the guys under center and if you throw in a big school quarterback with good numbers as a Heisman finalist, then Chuba will likely be second fiddle when the final votes come out. Not to mention, Chuba may have to do something we have rarely seen in college football. Since 2009, thirteen players have rushed for over 2,000 yards in a season and in fact, all thirteen of those players have played in the last seven years as we saw no 2,000-yard rushers from 2009 to 2012. Maybe he must pull a Melvin Gordon (Wisconsin running back 2011-2014) like when he rushed for over 2,500 yards back in 2014. Yet, even with that miraculous rushing season, Marcus Mariota (Oregon quarterback) ended up taking the Heisman home.
As much as I hate to say it, Chuba Hubbard’s school is not going to help his case to win the Heisman. Sorry Oklahoma State fans but Oklahoma State is not a blueblood school. Now, does it really matter? Maybe not if you are playing quarterback and put up huge numbers like Lamar Jackson did at Louisville back in 2016. But for a running back? It may be a much tougher task than you think. Since 2000, only two Heisman winners have come from “non-blueblood” schools in my opinion. That would be Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III (2011 winner) and Lamar Jackson from Louisville (2016 winner). I hate to bring this topic up, but I feel like no matter what, this is always something in the back of peoples minds and especially in the voter’s minds. How often are they truly watching teams like Oklahoma State? If Chuba is to get a fair shake at this, then his team needs to be at the very least competing for a conference title so he can be in those primetime games and shine.
I know what you are thinking. How in the heck is Mike Gundy an obstacle? Let me take you back to 2018. Star running back Justice Hill was fresh off a 1,400-yard rushing season in his sophomore year. We all thought that 1,400 yards was a given and when the regular season was over, the Cowboys were sitting at 6-6 and Hill did not even reach 1,000 yards. In fact, in six games of that year, Hill did not have more than fifteen carries. Now I know Hill was banged up but there is no doubt in my mind that he was not used properly that season for whatever reason. It felt like the staff was holding Justice back. Maybe they knew he was going pro after his junior year and did not want to wear him down too much but whatever the reason, the Cowboys suffered because of it.
I saw the same thing happen in the Texas Bowl for the Pokes when they played Texas A&M last season. Chuba Hubbard was tearing through the Aggie defense and suddenly, his name stopped being called upon and he became a non-factor as the game went on. Whatever the reason was, that cannot happen this season. Now I am not saying that they should completely overuse him and give him the ball twenty-five plus times a game, but we do not need another Justice Hill situation in 2020.
Some of this may seem like a lot and while that is true, that does not mean that it is not doable. Chuba Hubbard is a fantastic player and in my mind, he is the best player in the Big 12 and the best running back in the entire country. If you were to tell me that a running back needed to rush for over 2,300 yards this season to win the Heisman, what other running back would you put ahead of Chuba? No one. Hubbard has all the tools and the supporting cast to pull something like that off and not to mention, I do believe Oklahoma State will be playing in Jerry World come December with a shot to win their first Big 12 title since 2011. The stage is set, and it is time for Chuba Hubbard to takeover college football.
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