I, for one, am happy to eat crow on this topic.
A week ago, I was encouraging fans to focus on reachable goals for Boston College senior running back Andre Williams. "Little" things like the Doak Walker Award, giving annually to the nation's top college football running back, and All-American honors seemed like more realistic goals only one week ago. My rationale was that often times Boston College players fly under the radar for some of these national awards (see also, yesterday's hero Nate Freese) so a measured approach was needed in this case as well.
But here we are, just one week later, talking about BC's Mack truck of a running back getting an invite to the Downtown Athletic Club in New York. Andre For Heisman, which, by the way, is totally a real thing now. That's because a wild and wacky day of college football turned the 2013 Heisman Trophy race on its head.
Heisman Trophy frontrunners Oregon QB Marcus Mariota, Texas A&M Johnny Manziel and Baylor QB Bryce Petty all picked the wrong week to have an off game, while the drama surrounding Florida State QB Jameis Winston, under investigation for sexual assault, further clouds the race. The end result is a wide open Heisman Trophy race with the opportunity for several under-the-radar candidates making it to New York.
So what does Williams, the first running back to eclipse the 2,000-yard mark in six seasons, have to do to make it to New York?
1. Boston College has to win on Saturday. This one is a given. Just ask Mariota, Manziel and Petty what a loss this late in the season will do to one's Heisman Trophy chances. BC will likely have to win at Syracuse this weekend for Williams to make it to New York. A win would be the fifth straight for the Eagles; nearly every one of those wins coming on the legs of Williams. BC's losses would have come to the #2, #7 and #23 teams in this week's BCS standings (and the fourth to a resurgent North Carolina team). Unless Williams does something truly remarkable in the season finale and BC comes up short -- which may be very difficult to do considering this year's body of work to date -- a loss here sinks Williams' chances.
2. Andre Williams needs to continue to do Andre Williams things. I don't think there's a magic rushing yards number nor do I think Williams will be expected to top his four previous 250+ (!) yard rushing yard performances. He might not even have to rush for more yards that his 188.5 yards a game average to make the final group for the stiff arm trophy. That said, Williams still needs to turn in a solid performance on Saturday -- his last chance to impress voters -- to keep his Heisman hopes alive. Important to note that other Heisman hopefuls such as Florida State's Jameis Winston, Northern Illinois' Jordan Lynch, Fresno State's Derek Carr, Ohio State's Braxton Miller and (likely) Alabama's A.J. McCarron will all have another week to impress during Championship weekend while Williams will already be in the clubhouse.
3. Williams has to hold off Ka'Deem. Williams biggest challenger for the title of nation's best running back comes from Arizona, where junior RB Ka'Deem Carey rushed for 206 yards and 4 TDs on 48 carries to lead the Wildcats to an upset of #5 Oregon. Luckily, Williams one-upped Carey on Saturday to maintain a comfortable lead over Carey and everyone else in rushing yards and rushing yards per game. If Carey goes off vs. Arizona State, which has already punched its ticket to the Pac-12 title game, while Williams struggles with Syracuse, Williams may lose the momentum as the top RB Heisman hopeful.
4. Williams probably needs just a little more help. As Heisman Pundit points out, Williams may carry the vote in the Northeast and part of the Mid-Atlantic. In a race with several different candidates, that may be enough to get Williams to New York. But I can't shake this feeling that one or more QBs that many have quickly written off are still in this thing.
At Baylor, Petty may not be able to shake a blowout loss to Oklahoma State, but he still put up big numbers in the loss (28-of-48, 357 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT) and has put up video game numbers all season. Petty also has two moderately high profile games left -- at TCU on November 30 (ESPN2) and Texas on December 7 -- to state his case and jump back into the mix. Williams has just one game left vs. a 5-6 Syracuse team broadcast by the ACC's Regional Sports Networks. McCarron's stock could also drop with another game manager, McCarron-like performance this weekend in the Iron Bowl.
5. The school needs to help Williams out. As a voting member of the FWAA, I get emails and promotional materials from schools promoting their star players for All-American status and other individual accolades. Funny timing, but yesterday I received an email from the Arizona athletics department with the subject line "Did you see Ka'Deem Carey?" Carey broke three school records in Arizona's win over Oregon as the email went on to list the junior back's various accomplishments throughout the year. Though I had to restrain myself from replying, "No I did not. That's because I was too busy watching BC's Andre Williams rush for 57 more yards," Arizona is a school that's really getting Carey's name out there.
Boston College has just six days to make a similar media push to get Williams name out there this week. Voters from around the country have heard of Winston, McCarron and Manziel, but Williams is a guy whose name they haven't heard throughout much of the year. That needs to change this week -- with the help of the athletics department -- if Williams hopes to get to NYC.