The week of the Mississippi State-Alabama game, I did a brief statistical comparison between tailbacks Anthony Dixon and Mark Ingram . With Ingram having a really good shot at winning both the Heisman Trophy and a BCS national title with the Crimson Tide, I thought it’d be good to take a closer look at these two fine specimens and what they did on the field this season.
First, the obvious numbers.
• Rushing yards: Dixon 1,391; Ingram 1,542
• Yards per game: Dixon 126.5 (11 games); Ingram 118.6 (13 games)
• Yards per carry: Dixon 5.4; Ingram 6.2
• Rushing touchdowns: Dixon 12, Ingram 15
• Receptions-yards-TDs: Dixon 18-123-0; Ingram 30-322-3
OK, now let’s go a little deeper.
• 100-yard games: Dixon 8 (in 11 games); Ingram 8 (in 13 games)
• Season low (carries-yards): Dixon 15-53, vs. Florida; Ingram 16-30, vs. Auburn
• Season high (carries-yards): Dixon 33-252, vs. Kentucky; Ingram 24-246, vs. South Carolina
• Yards per game vs. ranked opponents: Dixon 95.8 (five games); Ingram 144.8 (four games)
• Yards per game vs. bowl teams: Dixon 126.8 (10 games); Ingram 127.1 (9 games)
• Yards per game against common opponents (6 games): Dixon 135.3; Ingram 108.2
• Percentage of rushing offense accounted for: Dixon 50.93; Ingram 54.95
• Percentage of total offense accounted for: Dixon 33.92; Ingram 34.65
So there you have it. Of the 13 categories I covered here, Ingram comes out ahead in eight of them, but most of them are close. So maybe he is a better running back than Dixon, but it’s really hard to make a clear delineation between them. The national pundits have done so by essentially ignoring Dixon, which has been easy because MSU went 5-7 and is not a perennial powerhouse like Alabama.
And that’s the only reason Ingram is getting so much love and Dixon isn’t. It’s why Ingram is a Heisman frontrunner, why he’s a finalist for the Walter Camp Player of the Year award, why he’s a finalist for the Doak Walker award, which goes to the nation’s top running back.
That’s too bad, because Dixon is being punished for playing on the wrong team. If he and Ingram switched places, who do you think would be getting the pub? Dixon, of course. Because people make the elementary logical error of equating your team’s ability to win with your value as a player.
MSU’s offensive line was much improved this season, as evidenced by the fact that the Bulldogs were first in the SEC and 10th in the nation in rushing offense (227.6 ypg). But there was so much more help around Ingram—at quarterback, at receiver, and on the other side of the ball. Ingram didn’t have to win games for Alabama; Dixon sure had to for State.
Should Ingram win the Heisman? No, but he probably will. (If I had a vote, it’d go to Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh ). Let’s just hope that whatever else Ingram accomplishes, Dixon’s greatness won’t be forgotten.