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Is Chuba Hubbard Winning the Heisman a Possibility?

Is the Heisman a quarterback’s award?



STILLWATER — Despite the trophy donning a running back, the Heisman has become a quarterback’s prize.

Since 2000, only three running backs have won the Heisman Trophy: Derrick Henry (2015), Mark Ingram (2009) and Reggie Bush (2005). Bush has since vacated his award. Quarterbacks make up for the other 16 winners since the turn of the century, providing the question of if it’s even possible for a runner to win college football’s top individual prize.

Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard leads the nation in rushing by 284 yards. Yet, Hubbard’s Heisman buzz hasn’t made it too far out of Stillwater.

Jonathan Taylor is the only running back on that list, and he is 379 rushing yards behind Hubbard at this point. But even Taylor’s 10-to-1 odds aren’t remarkable. So can a running back win the award this year?

“Oh sure, I think so,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said Monday. “It’s just comparable to numbers from the past. That’s all we have to go on. They’re going to compare (Hubbard) to whoever won the last Heisman that was running the ball, what were his numbers? What was his numbers? Yards per carry, things like that. I would say that that would be the direction they would go.”

Well, let’s compare what Hubbard has done with past running back winners through five games:

Player Year Rushing Yards Rushing Touchdowns Yards Per Carry Team Record
Chuba Hubbard 2019 938 10 7.3 4-1
Derek Henry 2015 570 9 6.1 4-1
Mark Ingram 2009 487 6 5.8 5-0
Reggie Bush 2005 601 7 8.5 5-0

There are still plenty of games before the award is handed out, but Hubbard’s rushing totals project to be higher than all of those guys. It would obviously be difficult to keep up, but at 187.6 yards per game, Hubbard is well on track to surpass 2,000 rushing yards before a bowl game.

Ingram and Bush didn’t make it to 2,000 rushing yards in their Heisman-winning seasons. Henry finished 2015 with 2,219 rushing yards, but he did so after 15 games. If Hubbard played 15 games at his current average, he would run for 2,814 yards, the most in NCAA history.

The actual competition is also something worth taking into account. In the end, Hubbard won’t be competing with the likes of Henry, Ingram and Bush for a Heisman Trophy. He is up against the likes of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts.

Hubbard’s competition also goes in line with another argument that goes against prospects of Hubbard winning the award: the decal on his helmet.

Henry, Ingram and Bush all played in the national championship game of their Heisman-winning seasons. Already with a loss against Texas, it would already be difficult for OSU to make the College Football Playoff. Even if the Cowboys won out, it could be reason for the committee to deem the Big 12 not worthy since Oklahoma or Texas didn’t make it through. A one-loss Oklahoma State might not be good enough, especially when some people are already trying to put three SEC teams in the Playoff’s four spots.

Melvin Gordon ran for 2,587 yards in 2014 (the second-most in NCAA history), but the Heisman was instead awarded to Marcus Mariota that year. Mariota had a few things going for him, mainly his 5,250 total yards and 58 total touchdowns, but Mariota was also on CFP participant Oregon. Gordon was on a Wisconsin team that played in the Outback Bowl.

Hurts and Tagovailoa have each dominated their opposition thus far and seem to be on a warpath to each other. It makes for a great story considering a year ago they were teammates, and now they play for separate blue bloods.

There is a world not too far away where Hubbard is sitting alongside Hurts and Tagovailoa as one of the quarterbacks is awarded the Heisman Trophy. There is also a world where Hubbard can win it himself, but that world seems lightyears away right given the trophy’s recent history.

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