The Oregon Ducks look to extend their undefeated streak as they host the Stanford Cardinal in the penultimate game of the season. By the end of the game, the Cardinal will have killed Kenjon Barner's Heisman hopes.
With two games remaining in the season, Barner has averaged 6.8 yards per carry. Throw in the 19 times he’s run the ball into the end zone and there’s no doubt Barner is a Heisman candidate.
That is, he will be until the Cardinal spoil his chances at the prestigious trophy.
The Cardinal’s defense has held opponents to an average of 17.2 points per game. Granted, the Ducks have scored a stunning average of almost 55 points per game—making them a definite challenge to Stanford’s impressive defense.
The bulk of Oregon’s offense is Barner and the running game. They average more yards per carry than any other team in the country and ESPN ranks Barner as the nation’s sixth-best runner.
Stanford’s defense can not only handle the challenge—it can shut down Barner.
The Sports Network ranks Stanford’s rushing defense as No. 1 in the nation. The Cardinal have restricted their opposition’s running game to just two yards per carry.
California was able to limit Barner to 65 rushing yards and no touchdowns—one of his worst performances of the season. To put it in prospective, California’s rushing defense is ranked 77th by The Sports Nation.
Barner fell 3.5 yards per carry short of his season average. If he couldn’t get it done last week, how can he be expected to deliver against the nation’s premier rushing defense?
He can’t. That’s how the Cardinal will kill Barner’s Heisman chances.
Barner won’t come close to his averages. He’s one of the NCAA’s best running backs so he’ll more than likely average more than the two yards per carry that the Cardinal have allowed thus far.
Not by much, though. If Barner can only manage 3.3 yards per carry against California, he might have trouble breaking the three yards per carry mark.
Stanford’s defense pulling down Barner’s statistics isn’t the only way they’ll take him out of Heisman competition.
Barner’s legitimacy as a Heisman contender has to be in question after his performance last week. With only 65 rushing yards and no touchdowns, he didn’t factor into the Ducks’ 59-17 victory.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota more than picked up the slack left by Barner and the absent running game with his six touchdowns. He’ll have to do so for the second consecutive week if the Ducks hope to beat the Cardinal.
California wasn’t the only team to take it to Barner and the Ducks’ rushing offense. Arizona’s 91st ranked rushing defense managed to keep Barner off the score sheets and below 100 running yards.
Stanford definitely won’t be the first team to expose Barner’s weakness as a Heisman candidate. They may be the last, though.
With Barner’s Heisman chances already very much in doubt, a second week without any tangible contributions to his team will seal the deal and kill Barner’s Heisman hopes.