By Kevin McGuire
The past few weeks of the college football season have seen a number of strong Heisman Trophy candidates stumble in one way or another. This late into the season brings an unfamiliar position for Heisman voters for a variety of reasons. The hesitation to place a candidate with a cloud of legal uncertainty looming above him could sway some voters until anything becomes definitive, and other likely favorites took some brutal losses last weekend. In a competition that can often be won by leaving the best impression late in the season, perhaps the door is wide open for a candidate nobody saw in the running before.
RB Andre Williams, Boston College
With the competition wide open for the Heisman Trophy, Boston College running back Andre Williams has become a bit of a rising contender. Williams became just the 16th player in college football history to rush for 2,000 yards in a single season as Boston College snuck by Maryland on the road, 29-26. Williams rushed for 263 yards in the game for his third straight game with over 200 rushing yards. He also had his fourth straight game with two rushing touchdowns.
Boston College hired former Temple head coach Steve Addazio to breathe new life in to a woeful program, and Addazio was wise to see what kind of talent he had in Williams. Williams carried the football 58 times in Boston College’s first two games of the season, and rushed for 318 yards and two touchdowns to get things off to a good start for the Eagles.
The true litmus test for a Heisman Trophy candidate is what they do in the team’s biggest games. Boston College is nowhere close to being a BCS contender or anything like that, but he has played well against Boston College’s top opponents this season. Against Florida State, Williams rushed for 149 yards. In a road loss at USC, Williams managed to pick up just 38 yards and against Clemson he rushed for 70 yards. He did not score a single touchdown in any of those three games and Boston College went 0-3. But that has not slowed him down from having an historic season.
Williams has rushed for 200 yards in a game five times entering the final week of the season, including a career high 339 yards against North Carolina. Williams has come on very strong down the stretch of the season to make his late Heisman push, and it appears to be working to an extent. The problem may be that it is too late for even a 2,000-yard rusher to pick up enough steam to at least get an invite to New York City. But he is certainly worthy of receiving the invite.
Heisman Match-Ups of the Week
Oregon vs. Oregon State, TCU vs. Baylor: There are a number of big games involving those looking for one final Heisman statement or preparing for a conference championship game. This week will be crucial for two Heisman Trophy candidates who took a beating last week. Oregon’s Marcus Mariota may need a big game against rival Oregon State to make any case for a Heisman invite after losing big for a second time this season. Similarly, Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty would benefit by rebounding right away after a rough loss at Oklahoma State last week. Petty leads Baylor on the road against TCU and should be able to stay in the running with just one loss.
Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.