The No. 3 Michigan Wolverines host Nebraska Saturday afternoon. With three games left in the regular season, the Wolverines look poised to head to Columbus undefeated.
One reason for that is Michigan’s ground game. The Wolverines lead the Big Ten in rushing offense, with 250 rush yards a game. A lot of that courtesy of their leading running back Blake Corum. After inheriting the main workload for Michigan’s offense, Corum has had an amazing season so far. But what are his actual chances of making it to New York? What has to happen to get the invite?
We’ll break down some past running back Heisman contenders to get a better idea. A lot of comparison has already been made between Corum and the three most recent winners, so let’s see how he measures up.
Three running backs have won the Heisman since 2004, the most recent being Derrick Henry in 2015; Mark Ingram won it in 2009 and Reggie Bush in 2005. Through nine games, Corum is on pace with all three winners. He is tied for first in total touchdowns and rushing touchdowns while leading the nation in first downs amongst running backs.
Through nine games, Corum has 1,224 total yards and 17 touchdowns. Henry, also through nine games, had 1,323 total yards and 17 touchdowns. Ingram and Bush had 1,364 and 11 touchdowns and 1,379 yards and nine touchdowns, respectively.
Last year another running back was on Heisman watch, MSU’s Kenneth Walker III. While he would not get the invite, his performance is useful for comparative purposes. Walker III had 1,386 yards and 16 touchdowns through nine games, which put him around serious consideration at the time. Seeing where Corum currently stands amongst those four, do you think he will be able to get the invite? Or will quarterback play win out once more?
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that these last three games are crucial for Corum’s Heisman hopes. Though having recognition at this point should warrant consideration, he is going up against some elite passers. For the running backs invited over the past decade, a lot were up against similar talent like Corum.
Take Bryce Love in 2017 for example. While he had 2,151 yards and 19 touchdowns at the end of the season and got the invite to New York, quarterback Baker Mayfield would take the Heisman, throwing for 4,672 yards and 43 touchdowns. That was the most passing yards by a quarterback in years with running backs invited.
It’s hard to ignore play like that, though Henry would win over Deshaun Watson’s 4,109 passing yard and 35 passing touchdown effort. Watson would also rush over 1000 yards and 13 touchdowns. So can Corum’s stats match or surpass the quarterback play that has been seen so far this season?
The way he is utilized within Michigan’s offense, I would imagine that by the conclusion of the regular season he matches the majority of former running backs in Heisman contention. With a minimum of two touchdowns against Nebraska tomorrow, he could beat/tie six out of the last ten running back nominees and their end of season total touchdowns.
The last few games were huge for Michigan’s most recent Heisman contender, so hopefully we see similarly from Corum starting tomorrow. Finalists will be announced Dec. 6. Will Corum be among the names for Heisman? How has his season thus far warranted an invite?
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