If No. 14 NIU's quarterback Jordan Lynch wasn't in the Heisman conversation, he certainly put himself right in the center of it after his 321-yard rushing performance against Western Michigan. For a running back, that total would be Heisman worthy, but for a quarterback, it's record breaking, literally.
Lynch didn't just rack up the yards, he also found the end zone three times. Here's a video of the two he scored in the first half:
The NIU QB has run for 1,755 yards and 20 touchdowns this year, which is good for No. 2 in the nation. Lynch's rushing stats could deserve Heisman attention alone as SportsCenter points out:
He's also thrown for 2,457 yards and 22 touchdowns.
Being in the MAC hurts Lynch's chances of winning the Heisman, but we're going to focus on why Lynch still deserves the Heisman over the likes of Jameis Winston, AJ McCarron, Andre Williams and even Derek Carr. First, let's look at team performance.
Lynch has lead NIU to their fourth straight MAC Championship game. Also, if they stay ahead of Fresno State in the BCS Rankings, he will have lead them to their first and second BCS Bowl appearances.
The performance of NIU is certainly more impressive than Boston College's 7-4 record playing in the ACC. Individually, here's how Lynch and Williams compare:
|Heisman Hopefuls: Rushing Stats|
Lynch trails Williams by about 300 rushing yards on the year.
To call them equal is to say that Lynch's 2,457 passing yards and 22 touchdowns are equal to about 300 rushing yards. It's also to say that an undefeated MAC team on the verge of a BCS berth is equal to a four-loss ACC team projected to play in the Music City Bowl.
Lynch has the advantage here.
Jameis Winston and AJ McCarron both hold the advantage in team performance. And both USA Today and HeismanPundit.com have Winston and McCarron ranked ahead of Lynch. Winston's Heisman hopes hang in the balance with the ruling of a court case.
Just being accused is certainly not Heisman material, but let's assume the case has no effect on Winston's Heisman run.
With that we have three undefeated quarterbacks. Two of them have top-tier receivers, running backs and great defenses. And Lynch stacks up to McCarron just on the merit of his passing statistics as noted by ESPNU's Danny Kanell:
The Winston and Lynch comparison is a bit closer:
|Heisman Hopefuls: Jordan Lynch vs. Jameis Winston|
|Pass Yards||Pass TDs||INT|
Factor in Lynch's 1,600 more rushing yards and 17 more rushing TDs, and it's no contest.
All three QBs are crucial to their team's success, but Lynch is the most crucial. He's the team's leading passer and rusher. Against Western Michigan, Lynch accounted for 80-percent of his teams total offense according to Bryan Vance of SBNation.
If Albama or Florida State had to rely on their QB for 80 percent of their offense, it's not likely that they would be in the National Championship picture.
Lynch does it all for his team and has added his name to a 20-20 club that features three previous Heisman winners as shown by ESPN:
Granted, level of competition has to be accounted for. McCarron has the best edge, playing in the SEC. Winston has a slight edge with the ACC competition. I ask, what's it worth to play in these conferences? There's not a quantitative answer, and conventional wisdom seems to side with major conferences.
Voters shouldn't penalize Lynch so harshly.
Undefeated is as good as a team can be, and Lynch is there with McCarron and Winston. At that point, let's turn to the numbers. I believe the numbers side with Lynch.
Lynch isn't the only QB leading a small conference team into the BCS picture. There's also Fresno State's Derek Carr. Carr has thrown 3,948 yards and 39 touchdowns. He does benefit from a pass-happy uptempo offense, but those numbers deserve a mention.
Lynch has surpassed Carr in the BCS rankings, which helps his cause since the two are comparable. As I mentioned above, team performance isn't everything.
The combination of Lynch's rushing and passing stats represent a more difficult and meaningful combination than Carr's gaudy passing numbers.
"I think he's the best player in college football." Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck said of Lynch via Shannon Ryan Chicago Tribune. "He's the best player because he does everything. And he does everything at an elite level. He deserves to be in New York."
Lynch won't likely win the Heisman, but it won't be for lack of trying. With a MAC Championship game left, NFL Associate Editor Ian Kenyon speculates that Lynch could do something unthinkable:
Simply put, he has the best combination of individual production and team performance in the NCAA.
It's feasible that Lynch's NIU Huskies will be conference champions, ranked in the BCS Top 10 and playing in a BCS Bowl.
Lynch should get to add Heisman Finalist to that list.