Wide receiver DeVonta Smith won it in January. Alabama won the 2020 national championship just days later.
The year before, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow hoisted the award before leading the Bayou Bengals to their first national title since 2007. Prior to him, both Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield claimed the trophy before leading Oklahoma to the College Football Playoff.
The Heisman and winning football are synonymous most seasons. Those who find themselves fighting for a shot a the national title usually hear their names called to head to Big Apple for the ceremony.
Texas' Bijan Robinson could very well be the nation's top player and well-deserving of winning the 2021 Heisman. The problem is the school he plays for.
In short, Texas could be holding the nation's top runner back in more ways than one.
Since arriving in Austin, Robinson has exceeded the expectations as the nation's top running back. Even last season in a pass-heavy system led by Tom Herman, the snaps he was given were electrifying in the open field, having fans hoping for more from its star player.
Robinson shines in Longhorns (4-3, 2-2 Big 12) offense under the direction of Steve Sarkisian. Among all FBS players this season, Robinson is second in scrimmage yards (1,131), second in total touchdowns (13), third in yards per game (161.6), third in rushing yards (924) and sixth in yards per run (6.33).
He also has six games of over 100 rushing yards from the line of scrimmage.
Voters will consider production as a key figure in the vetting process. Wins propel those to the podium.
Texas dropped an early loss in Week 2 to Arkansas on the road —a game in which Robinson only tallied 69 yards. Over the past two weeks, Texas has blown back-to-back second-half leads.
Since 2000, only three players have won the Heisman on teams with three losses during the regular season: Florida's Tim Tebow (2007), Baylor’s Robert Griffin III (2011), and Louisville's Lamar Jackson (2016).
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The difference between those three and Robinson? Position. All three were quarterbacks, another category booster in the decision-making process. Since the turn of the century, only four non-quarterbacks have taken home the hardware — three of which were running backs.
According to BetMGM.com, Robinson has the fifth-best odds to win the award at +2,000 and is second amongst non-QBs, trailing Michigan State's Kenneth Walker III at +1400. Walker, a transfer from Wake Forest, currently leads the FBS in rushing yards (997), and is second in yards per attempt (6.7) among players with over 100 carries.
Others ahead of Robinson include Alabama's Bryce Young (+200), Ole Miss' Matt Corral (+200), and Ohio State's CJ Stroud (+800), all of whom play quarterback and are on rosters with one loss.
Walker and the Spartans are currently 7-0 and could propel themselves to an 8-0 should they defeat No. 6 Michigan next Saturday in East Lansing.
Based on his current production, Robinson is projected to finish just shy of 2,000 rushing yards and score 22 touchdowns on the 2021 campaign. Barring a breakout game along the way — i.e. Kansas or West Virginia — he would become the first Texas runner to eclipse 2,000 yards since D'Onta Foreman in 2016.
Foreman finished eighth in voting.
In 2019, Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor, Ohio State's J.K. Dobbins, and Oklahoma State's Chuba Hubbard all rushed for over 2,000 yards. Dobbins and Taylor each finished with over 20 touchdowns. They finished fifth, sixth, and eighth, respectively in voting during the 2019 season.
Even with strong production and on winning teams, the trio couldn't make the cut for a shot at New York. Robinson's team, and second half blunders, could make him the next great runner to join the ranks of those on the outside looking in.
There's no denying Robinson's talent speaks for itself. The question now becomes if Texans can turn its season around to give him a fair fight amongst other contenders on teams vying for a College Football Playoff berth.
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