Hand him the ...

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Brendan Bures | NCAA.com | November 11, 2014

Leapfrogging the competition

Hand him the ... TCU's Trevone Boykin

Each week of the college football season NCAA.com will take a look at the most impressive individual performances. Some weeks it may be one player who stands head and shoulders above everyone else. This week, TCU's Trevone Boykin emerges as a legitimate Heisman contender.

Right around the time he was flipping frontward into the end zone against Kansas State Saturday, I wonder what was going through Trevone Boykin’s head. Possibly excitement? Maybe blank like most athletes performing in the moment? Full with College Football Playoff dreams as TCU viciously knocked out Kansas State? Probably just praying he lands gracefully and doesn’t become an ephemeral Internet meme?

Somewhere in there, I’d like to believe one thought punctured through: Is this finally enough?

Here’s where Boykin’s at: He’s leading the No. 5 team and third-best total offense in the nation to the postseason, a team that previously went 4-8 and ranked 105th in total offense. The Horned Frog sit at 8-1 and ranked third in scoring offense and total offense. They are one 4th quarter collapse away from being ranked a top 3 team in college football.

Boykin has redefined his style of play; before an athlete listed at QB and could throw when asked, now a vexing quarterback capable of punishing teams however necessary. Because he still struggles with accuracy and doesn’t translate to our prototypical idea of a quarterback, critics were wary of Boykin. Perhaps his greatness resulted from the system he was in, they said.

In other words, it wasn’t what Boykin was doing, but how he was doing it.

But that’s focusing on the negative. His play has catalyzed TCU into a formidable team, one that (finally) has an identity. Head coach Gary Patterson may look like a father watching his son play in traffic every time Boykin tucks it and runs, but it’s that dangerous free spirit energizing the Horned Frogs and leading them to wins, like the one against Kansas State.

With Trevone Boykin, there’s not much left to say except that he’ll be in New York for the Heisman ceremony and he’ll be a contender.

The RB candidate

This year’s Heisman race has been more quarterback-heavy than any other in recent memory. All the guys leading teams beyond their capabilities have mostly been QBs. Marcus Mariota. Dak Prescott. Jameis Winston. Boykin.

Out in the Big Ten, though, it’s a trio of running backs who stand on the fringes of the Heisman race. Depending on the week, either Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah, Indiana’s Tevin Coleman, or Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon have rotated into a sort of token Heisman RB candidate. Their numbers explain why:

Ameer Abdullah 186 1,250 6.7 138.9 17
Tevin Coleman 182 1,371 7.5 152.3 11
Melvin Gordon 198 1,501 7.6 166.8 19

If we could form a three-headed running back Cerberus with these guys, they’d be dominant Heisman frontrunners. The B1G RBs hold three of the top five total rush yard totals and three of the top six rush yards per game average spots. Either these guys are really good, or the Big Ten rush defenses are pretty bad. Maybe both. But with the lone exception of Abdullah, their performances haven’t been strong enough to boost their teams into possible CFP contention.

To clarify, that’s not a requirement for a Heisman winner. Guys on losing teams have won the Heisman before. But to accomplish that feat, what that player should be historic or statistic-defying or otherwise not of this world. While Gordon’s a hot commodity within Heisman circles currently, should Wisconsin lose to Nebraska Saturday, Abdullah’s name will replace Gordon’s on those charts.

Heisman top 3

For the remainder of the race, we’re going to rank the top 3 remaining candidates in descending order with a quick explanation of why a player is ranked where he is. These rankings are fluid and (mostly) made for fun.

1) Marcus Mariota -- College football’s most lethal and efficient weapon. Makes commonplace human error look like a defect in our biological systems.
2) Dak Prescott -- The unquestioned leader of college football’s top-ranked team. Has been a bit inconsistent as of late, but a win at Tuscaloosa vs. Alabama might jump him ahead of Mariota. Might.
3) Trevone Boykin -- The wild, slightly unstable catalyst to this year’s biggest surprise team. Has done everything no one expected and more.

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