Can Mason Rudolph Actually Win the 2017 Heisman?

Written by Kyle Cox

Last week, OSU’s athletic department sent out a cryptic tweet with a not so cryptic message. Mason Rudolph is the key. He’s the driving force to Oklahoma State’s offense and its team’s success.

And he’s the No. 1 reason for optimism heading into 2017.

“I think his success over a three-year period and his numbers kind of speak for themselves,” said Mike Gundy following OSU’s spring game. “He’s winning. He’s a great leader. We’re always a little tentative about that because I don’t want to put pressure on him, but I think it’s fair play that he’s earned that.”

Gundy is right. Rudolph is winning; and at a pretty high clip. In his two years and some change, Rudolph is 22-6 as a starter. He’s beaten every Big 12 opponent except for Baylor and will get one more crack at them this fall.

He’s the face of a perennial 10-win program but somehow the best-kept secret among Heisman candidates.

Is this the year for Rudolph to finally shine?

How plausible is Rudolph’s Heisman candidacy?

The Heisman trophy is given to “the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity … ” As of late, it’s become a QB-dominated award. The last 20 have gone to 14 quarterbacks, five running backs and one cornerback/punt returner (Charles Woodson). If we go last 15, it’s even more lopsided, with 12 of the winners coming from behind center.

So, based on what recent history has told us and in an effort to compare apples to apples, let’s take a look at the seven QBs that currently have better odds (according to Bovada) to win than Rudolph.

Baker Mayfield was excluded from Bovada’s odds but is included in this list since he will certainly be near the top once his disciplinary situation is revealed and because I don’t expect him to miss much time, if any.

Here are Rudolph’s numbers from last year, followed by the seven other QBs ahead of him in the odds.

Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State): 16-1 odds
  • 4,091 yards passing, 28 TDs, 4 INTs – QBR: 158.94
  • 61 yards rushing, 6 TDs
The Field
Sam Darnold (USC): 5-1 odds
  • 3,086 yards passing 31 TDs, 9 INTs – QBR: 161.07
  • 250 yards rushing, 2 TDs
Lamar Jackson (Louisville): 6-1 odds (Last year’s Heisman winner)
  • 3,543 yards passing, 30 TDs, INTs – QBR: 148.82
  • 1,571 yards rushing, 21 TDs
Jalen Hurts (Alabama): 9-1 odds
  • 2,780 yards passing, 23 TDs, 9 INTs – QBR: 139.12
  • 954 yards rushing, 13 TDs
J.T. Barrett (Ohio State): 9-1 odds
  • 2,555 yards passing, 24 TDs, 7 INTs – QBR: 135.31
  • 845 yards rushing, 9 TDs
Jake Browning (Washington): 12-1 odds
  • 3,430 yards passing, 43 TDs, 9 INTs – QBR: 167.52
  • 45 yards rushing, 4 TDs
Deondre Francois (Florida State): 14-1 odds
  • 3,350 yards, 20 TDs, 7 INTs – QBR: 142.10
  • 196 yards rushing, 5 TDs
Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma): odds N/A
  • 3,965 yards, 40 TDs, 8 INTs – QBR: 196.38 (led NCAA)
  • 177 yards rushing, 6 TDs

Rudolph has a couple of things going for him. First off, he may have the best receiving corps in the nation. The Cowboys have probably 5-6 receivers that could probably be the No. 1 option on several teams.

“It’s great,” said Rudolph on the problem of spreading the ball around. “It makes my job a lot easier with what we’ve got. It’s going to be a fun summer and a fun fall camp with so many targets out there. It’s on my shoulders to make sure I distribute the ball to all of them.”

The importance of an actual running game cannot be overstated. We’ve seen in the past how defenses can key in on a one-dimensional OSU passing attack. With Justice Hill and an improving offensive line to keep them honest, the offense could open up even more.

Numbers are important but they’re only part of the equation. Team success plays a massive role, as well. And if the Cowboys can come close to living up to their expected potential, it will be because of Mason Rudolph.

Here’s a look the last four quarterbacks to win the Heisman and their team’s success that helped earn the award.

Lamar Jackson (Louisville): 6-1 odds (Last year’s Heisman winner)
  • 3,543 yards passing, 30 TDs, INTs – QBR: 148.82
  • 1,571 yards rushing, 21 TDs
  • Record: 9-4
  • Rank: No. 21 in Final AP Poll
Marcus Mariota (2014 Heisman winner)
  • 4,454 yards passing, 42 TDs 4 INTs – QBR: 181.75
  • 770 yards rushing, 15 TDs
  • Record: 13-2
  • Ranked: No. 2 in Final AP Poll
Jameis Winston (2013 Heisman winner)
  • 4,050 yards passing, 40 TDs, 10 INTs – QBR: 184.80
  • 219 yards rushing, 4 TDs
  • Record: 14-0
  • Ranked: No. 1 in Final AP Poll (National Champion)
Johnn Manziel (2012 Heisman winner)
  • 3,706 yards passing, 29 TDs, 9 INTs – QBR: 155.30
  • 1,410 yards rushing, 21 TDs
  • Record: 11-2
  • Ranked: No. 5 in Final AP Poll

The award is given out before bowl season but one thing all these quarterbacks shared was that team success. Aside from Jackson, the last five Heisman winners’ teams have finished in the top 5 nationally. Is Mason Rudolph going to have that on his resume? He’ll likely need it to earn an invite to New York.

To get to that point, Rudolph and his Cowboys will likely have to beat Oklahoma twice. With the new format for determining the Big 12’s champion, the top two teams will take part in a rematch at the end of the season. Insert 13th data point. Subtract common sense.

Can Rudolph win the Heisman?

It will take an historic season from him, which seems reasonable. It will also take Oklahoma State exorcising their Sooner demons. If both can be accomplished and OSU finds itself atop the Big 12, Rudolph will have a chance.

  • OSU Student

    “Can Mason actually win the heisman?”
    “Is water wet?”
    “Is grass green?”
    “Is Kevin Durant a snake?”

    I could do this all day.

    • Lokeasy

      Is Joe Flacco elite?

      • OSU Student

        Woah woah woah, let’s not get THAT far ahead of ourselves now. ?

      • spokepokes


    • Uncle Dan

      Does Dolly Parton sleep on her back?
      Does a duck with a boner drag weeds?

      • Adam M.

        These are questions I’m not actually sure I know answers to.

  • OSU Student

    In all seriousness, Marcus Mariotta’s stats that heisman season were completely insane. Unbelievable, even. Better than video game numbers.

  • Doc Holliday

    I think he absolutely can I just think it goes back to an article that was on here awhile back that I thought was right on the money..Rudolph CAN WIN the heisman it all comes down to whether Gundy and Yurcich turn him loose and let him play.

    • Stepdaddy

      Agreed! If they don’t give him the chance to win big games (like Bedlam last year), then he has no chance.

    • OSU Student

      I think they’ve done a good job of turning him loose and letting him play 11/12 games every year. Early each season they use him less and use the ground game more, obviously to get some sort of rushing identity. But throughout the season they usually tend to let mason go out there and just let it fly. Until bedlam, that is, when the Mike boys decide to shut him down and play “god I hope we don’t lose” ball.

  • James

    One thing that hurts him is he isn’t Dual Threat. He’s not flashy in his stats like some of these guys and I think that will make him get overlooked.

    • Stepdaddy

      I do not think it is so much that he is not a dual threat OB (however he shown he can run), rather it is his performance in big games. Take this year for instance, because of the weak/ sleepy non-conf scheduling, OSU really only has one big time game on its schedule this year which is Bedlam. From a national perspective OSU v. Texas is not a big time game right now, nor is OSU Baylor, nor OSU v. WVU. If he has great stats, plus beats Bedlam, he will have chance to win and at least get an invite. If he does not win Bedlam, IMO he won’t even get invite unless others in the field fall completely flat.

  • Scott

    If OSU makes the playoff then Mason will win the Heisman

  • Phillycowboy

    Something that isn’t being discussed enough is total touchdowns responsible for. It appears that the sweet spot is 50+ touchdowns. Do you need to be on a winning (9+ Wins) team? Yes! Should that winning team be a power 5 school? Yes! If, you’ve done those two things – Just go score 50+ touchdowns and its yours.

  • David Einstein

    He will have a seat in New York.

  • T-Bone

    He will have to beat out Justin Hill with his 2,000 yards rushing and 30 tds.

  • Spencer

    Probably going to need close to 50 TDs. Have to blow the doors off many teams. Can’t play $!# teams close.

  • Bootstrap Bill

    Yes, but it will help if it doesn’t rain in Stilly on November 4th. He likes his balls dry. At least AT&T stadium is covered.