The 2009 season began with the potential to be a historic Heisman year. For the first time, two players --
But injury and inconsistency quickly derailed history, clearing the way for new faces, few of whom lasted long. (Remember
As the season progressed, the true candidates emerged. Since Oct. 12, just two players have appeared on The Watch every week: Alabama running back
And so with the season complete, those five emerged as the final candidates. But Heisman voters can only acknowledge three players on their ballots; after watching hundreds of hours of games this season, this is how The Watch sees it:
Just how extraordinary was Suh? He quantified greatness at a position where greatness is hard to quantify. Defensive tackles are asked to do things that don't show up on the stat sheet, such as occupy blockers, but he did more than that. On a defense with several playmakers, he led the Huskers in tackles, tackles for loss, sacks, blocked kicks and quarterback hurries. He also finished second on the team in passes broken up and 76th nationally, amazing considering 100 of the top 102 players in that category were defensive backs or linebackers.
And of course, he capped his season with a dominant assault on Texas. The performance, Suh's best this season, almost earned the 14-point underdog Huskers the Big 12 title.
The questions is, was that domination enough to earn him the win? The guess here, based on some interesting results from the
Both came out of Week 1 running hard and never stopped. Both played best in the most important games. Ingram, in fact, averaged 165 rushing yards and scored seven touchdowns in five games against ranked opponents.
Many Ingram haters like to note that he ranks just 12th in the nation in rushing (118.6 yards per game), but that stat misleads because he twice came out in the second quarter with the Tide up big.
In the end, the Alabama back earns the ever-so-slight nod for the No. 2 spot because of his 189 yards of total offense and three touchdowns against No. 1 Florida. But even as I write this, I'm still not sure he belongs here over Gerhart.
But that lead was a narrow one, and this weekend's performances by Suh and Ingram against two of the best teams in the country cannot be ignored. Don't get me wrong: Gerhart isn't a victim of not playing on Saturday; he's a victim of Suh and Ingram playing well against great teams.
Gerhart stands as good a chance as any to win, so I understand anyone who thinks he deserves the award. He, at the very least, should finish high enough to merit an invitation to New York this week, and, who knows, maybe he can shock the world and win the whole thing.
Thank you all for reading The Watch this year, and we'll see you in 2010.