There is nobody in the nation who doesn’t know how good the Oregon Ducks are this season, especially after the 62-51 trouncing over the USC Trojans this past Saturday.
After the big victory that established the Ducks as the Pac-12 standard of excellence, Oregon has seen improved poll results and is now looking towards the big picture as they head down the final stretch of their season, next facing the California Golden Bears on Saturday.
Despite being in the national spotlight week-in and week-out, however, one of the most important players on Oregon’s offense has been largely ignored up until this point in the season. No, that player isn’t superstar freshman Marcus Mariota.
It’s Kenjon Barner, Oregon’s running back that is establishing a big name for himself after being an understudy to LaMichael James the past few seasons.
And, after 321 yards and five touchdowns against the Trojans, many are putting him right into the thick of the Heisman race, a place he more than deserves to be.
Here’s the reason why
His numbers have been completely ridiculous despite playing limited time due to Oregon blowout victories.
It may sound simple but it’s true. Many people had asked what Barner could do if he played a full four quarters. Well, against USC, he showed exactly what he could do and it was glorious.
Too many times this season Barner has been taken out of games early because the Ducks are routing their opponent.
Unfortunately for Kenjon, this has had him looking on the outside-in when it comes to the Heisman picture.
Yet, as just about every Duck fan and analyst knows, Barner deserves to be a Heisman finalist.
Let’s just look at his numbers.
Barner has rushed for 1,295 yards and 19 touchdowns on 179 carries, an average of 7.2 yards per carry. If you don’t really keep up with football statistics, those numbers are amazing.
With three regular season games left on the schedule, Barner is currently third in the nation in rushing and can be speculated to be able to take home the rushing title come the end of the year.
Barner has also put up amazing numbers despite not having the playing time of other running backs. He currently has rushed for over 100 yards in 6 games this season, rushed for over 200 yards twice this season, and also rushed for over 300 yards once this season.
And, in most cases, Barner has put up those numbers is just over two quarters of play. If he had been allowed to play every quarter of every game, it’s hard to imagine Barner not having some of the best numbers in college football history.
Unfortunately for this talented athlete, however, Oregon has been phenomenal this season and crushed just about every opponent they have faced, resulting in him being ignored by Heisman voters.
Yet, after a huge game after the Trojans, Barner has catapulted into the national spotlight and looks to contend for a Heisman.
This may sound all too simple, but as mentioned before, it’s true. It’s tough to say that one game of amazing statistics should amount in a Heisman nomination, but in Barner’s case, that is exactly what needs to happen.
Kenjon’s performance against USC was not an anomaly. Barner is one of the best running backs in the nation and those numbers against the Trojans are numbers Barner would put up if he could have played every quarter this season.
This is not to say, however, that Barner is going to win the Heisman.
For Barner to win the Heisman other candidates must fall while Barner continues his rise, something that is easier said than done.