By Kevin McGuire-
Nebraska has three Heisman Trophy winners in its storied football history. Running back Ameer Abdullah has a shot to become the school’s fourth Heisman winner. If a quarterback is not going to win the Heisman Trophy, then a running back has the best chance. There is only a small handful of worthy running backs in the Heisman Trophy conversation and Abdullah is currently leading the nation in rushing entering October.
This should come as no surprise. Abdullah entered the 2014 season as the nation’s leading returning rusher from 2013 after rushing for 1,690 yards, averaging 6.01 yards per rush attempt. He is already racking up the yardage this season, with 833 yards and eight touchdowns so far. This is why Nebraska mailed out an eight-pack of double-A batteries to college football media this season. Eight batteries to represent Abdullah’s uniform number, and double-A batteries for Abdullah’s initials. Like a certain brand of battery, Abdullah keeps going, and going, and going…
Abdullah’s biggest play of the season to date happened to be a bit of a heroic one. In week two, Nebraska was struggling to get by visiting McNeese State. A short pass to Abdullah from Tommy Armstrong Jr. turned into a fascinating display of everything Abdullah is capable of doing. The short pass turned into a 58-yard reception for a touchdown, the longest reception of Abdullah’s career. It could not have come at a better time, with 20 seconds remaining in the game for a 31-24 victory for the Huskers. Against any other team on Nebraska’s schedule, this would have qualified as a Heisman moment. The question to answer is can a Heisman moment be achieved in week two against an opponent form the FCS ranks?
Abdullah will have a chance to make some serious Heisman noise this weekend in Nebraska’s biggest game to date. Nebraska visits defending Big Ten champion Michigan State this weekend. The Spartans own the Big Ten’s best defense and have allowed just 323 rushing yards in four games this season. Last season, Abdullah rushed for 123 yards and caught one touchdown pass in a 41-23 setback. For Abdullah to emerge as a top Heisman candidate, he may have to go over the century mark and push for 150 yards against one of the top defenses in the country, and one or two touchdowns would certainly help his cause and the Fear Ameer campaign, which even the marching band at Nebraska has gotten on board with.
The last Big Ten player to win the Heisman Trophy was Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith in 2006. The last Big Ten running back to win the Heisman was Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne in 1999. Nebraska’s last Heisman winner was quarterback Eric Crouch in 2001 and Mike Rozier was the Huskers’ last running back to win the Heisman (1983).
Heisman Spotlight Game: No. 12 Mississippi State vs. No. 6 Texas A&M
There are plenty of great games taking place around the country this weekend, but the SEC West is stacked with pivotal games to pay attention to. One of them, Mississippi State vs. Texas A&M, will star a pair of quarterbacks that are rising in the Heisman conversation this season. Texas A&M’s Kenny Hill will look to duplicate his road success put on display in the season opener at South Carolina. Mississippi State’s signal-caller Dak Prescott is on the rise and gaining momentum off of a road win at LSU. Whichever quarterback comes out of this game with a win will likely take another step forward in the Heisman talks continuing through October.
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.