Heisman Watch in Iowa City?
|With his dominating performance and four touchdowns in Iowa’s win over Wisconsin on Saturday, Hawkeye running back Shonn Greene has some fans thinking of that famous bronze statue they give away in New York City every December. Greene has come back this year after missing more than a full season football to emerge as one of the best backs Iowa fans have ever seen. In fact, Greene has yet to be held under 100-yards in any game this season, and he is the only running back in Iowa history to rush for 100+ yards in eight straight games. So does Greene need to start making plans for a trip to the Downtown Athletic Club this winter? Not quite yet.|
Cedar Rapids Gazette sportswriter Mike Hlas points out a number of reasons why Shonn Greene will NOT win the Heisman. Most importantly is his observation that all the smart money is on a quarterback winning this year’s Heisman Trophy award, and most likely a QB from the Big XII Conference. You can cross Missouri’s Chase Daniel off the list, but odds are still high that a Big XII quarterback will win the Heisman. Texas’ Colt McCoy has to be everyone’s frontrunner at this point.
Now that doesn’t mean that Shonn Greene isn’t in contention and shouldn’t be on the short list of players that may receive invitations to the award ceremony. If a running back is going to be invited to the Heisman Award ceremony, it will most likely be one of the three that currently lead the NCAA in rushing yards. Michigan State's Javon Ringer, UConn's Donald Brown, and Iowa's Shonn Greene.
The NCAA’s leading rusher Javon Ringer has been getting most of the Heisman pub after his fast start this season, but his name has been mentioned less frequently since Big Ten play started, and certainly after the Spartans were pounded by Ohio State last week. UConn’s Donald Brown has put up some impressive rushing statistics and has been mentioned as a candidate for the Heisman by a few national outlets. Brown currently leads the nation in yards per game average with 167.71 through seven games. Brown has also rushed for over 100 yards in each of UConn’s first seven games. He and Greene are the only backs in the country to reach 100 yards in every game played this season.
Michigan State (4) - at Michigan, Wisconsin, Purdue, BYE, at Penn State
UConn (5) - Cincinnati, West Virginia, at Syracuse, at USF, Pittsburgh
Iowa (4) - BYE, at Illinois, Penn State, Purdue, at Minnesota
Rush Defense (Big Ten Rank):
Illinois - 150.86 yds/gm (9th)
Penn State - 103.88 yds/gm (2nd)
Purdue - 185.14 yds/gm (11th)
Minnesota - 122.14 yds/gm (6th)
With one more game remaining than both Ringer and Greene, UConn’s Donald Brown has the best chance of ending the year as the nation’s leading rusher. Of course the Heisman Trophy has become as much about team success as personal statistics in recent years. UConn is currently 5-2 on the season and has difficult games remaining, including South Florida and Pittsburgh to end the year. The Hawkeyes’ remaining schedule looks promising, especially for Shonn Greene. Illinois and Purdue have both been giving up huge yardage on the ground this year, and Minnesota’s defense is ranked 6th in the Big Ten in rushing yards allowed per game. Obviously Iowa’s game on November 8th against Penn State will be Greene’s best opportunity to make a big splash nationally. If the Nittany Lions win at Ohio State this weekend, they will come into Kinnick undefeated in two weeks and ranked somewhere in the BCS Top 3. That game will be Penn State’s last road game and most likely televised nationally.
Now with this being said, Shonn Greene is not going to win the Heisman this year. It just isn’t going to happen. But, if the Hawkeyes finish strong in their final 4 games, get to eight wins on the season, and Greene has a big day against Penn State he could very well be holding an invitation to college football’s biggest award ceremony at season’s end. Considering where he was at this time last year that would be an unbelievable accomplishment. Either way, enjoy watching him while you can Hawkeye fans, because the 23-year old junior will most likely be playing on Sundays next year.
And in the meantime VOTE for Greene!