Two regular season games remain for the Michigan Wolverines, who demolished Nebraska 34-3 in front of a cold and bored Michigan Stadium crowd. Running back Blake Corum lead the way, rushing for 162-yards and a touchdown on 28 carries and his threat to win the Heisman Trophy is becoming more serious.
Define Heisman Trophy
The highest award given to an individual in college football is different than in the NFL. While the pros have the Most Valuable Player award, valuable being the key word, the Heisman is defined differently. It is awarded to the “most outstanding college football player.” So, while the team’s performance is still important. By definition it is not about how valuable you are to your team.
Since the College Football Playoff began in 2014, only one Heisman winner failed to make the playoffs. That was Lamar Jackson (Louisville) back in 2016.
Now similarly to the NFL’s MVP award, the Heisman is generally won by quarterbacks. Since 2021, only four non-quarterbacks have won the Heisman. Three of those were running backs*, one was a wide receiver.
*Reggie Bush won the Heisman in 2005 but it was later vacated due to stupid NCAA rules. It’s ok though, Wendy’s gave Reggie a free pretzel bun burger.
Luckily for Corum this year there is only one Heisman candidate quarterback who is still undefeated, Ohio State’s CJ Stroud. Alabama has already lost two games and Hendon Hooker at Tennessee has one loss. Both of them are not likely to make their conference championship game.
Obviously, Corum’s Wolverines and Stroud’s Buckeyes will meet in two weeks so someone will have a loss. Of the three running backs who won the Heisman since 2000, two of them were undefeated heading into their bowl game.
I believe Michigan will have to win out the rest of the season for Corum to win the Heisman Trophy.
Another issue Corum faces in accruing Heisman votes is he’s not the most outstanding player in college football. He’s not even the consensus most outstanding player at his own position. That belongs to Texas’ Bijan Robinson.
According to Mel Kiper Jr, Corum isn’t in the top ten for running backs on his NFL draft rankings. Now, NFL draft potential and college football talent don’t always align. But it’s noteworthy that Corum isn’t ranked higher on that list.
This begs the question, is Corum that talented or is he a by product of Jim Harbaugh’s offense? It’s a little of both, for sure. But we all know what brand of football Harbaugh wants to play. He wants to run it down your throat, beat you up physically at the line of scrimmage, and wear the defense out. Clearly, it’s working. And Corum is using it to his advantage. But do Heisman voters think it’s more the player or the system? That remains to be seen.
Of those three Heisman winning running backs I keep mentioning, two of them were drafted in the first round. The other, Derrick Henry, went middle of the second. Corum should get drafted, but his name likely won’t get called until day three of the draft.
Not the Most Valuable Either
Even though the Heisman is not defined as the most valuable player. We know the value the winning player has to his team matters.
Is Corum more valuable to his team than Hooker is to Tennessee? Or Bryce Young is to Alabama? Absolutely not. Would Michigan still be 10-0 if Corum wasn’t on this team?
Of Michigan’s 10 wins, nine of them are by more than two scores. With most of those by more than three touchdowns. Corum has yet to have that “Heisman moment.” Like when Johnny Manziel led his Aggies to victory against Alabama. Even when Kenneth Walker had five touchdowns last year against Michigan. That was a Heisman moment.
Maybe Blake Corum has that moment against Ohio State. We’ll found out soon enough. But he likely won’t get that against Illinois next week or whatever dead carcass Michigan would face in the Big Ten title game.
Again, none of this means Blake Corum can’t or won’t win the Heisman Trophy. It’s just going to take a lot for that to happen.
Sidebar: After today’s game, Blake Corum has 17 rushing touchdowns on the season. That’s a lot, right? Let’s say he gets two more each game for the rest of the season. That would put him at 23, with Michigan making the conference championship.
That would still be 14 touchdowns behind the record holder for most rushing scores in a season, held by Oklahoma State running back Barry Sanders in 1988 (37 touchdowns, 2,628 yards). Sanders accomplished that in just 11 games. That is freaking insane and arguably the best individual season in college football history.