BATON ROUGE, La. – The Heisman Trophy is Leonard Fournette’s to lose midway through the season. Seriously, at his current pace is there any way Fournette doesn’t take home college football’s top individual award in December?
Fournette has received every first place vote among ESPN’s panel of experts. He also has -200 odds to win the award, according to Bovada.
The sophomore leads the nation with 1,202 yards. In fact, he’s the only back to eclipse the 1,000-yard plateau thus far — FSU’s Dalvin Cook is 45 yards shy — which is even more impressive considering LSU’s season opener was canceled due to lightning storms.
No, the question isn’t whether Fournette will win the Heisman, but rather by how much of a margin?
He’s on pace to have one of the best seasons in college football history, all while leading undefeated LSU to a potential SEC Championship and College Football Playoff appearance.
But will Fournette join an exclusive group of college backs by rushing for 2,000 yards? Frankly, it still seems likely even without the canceled Week 1 game.
He is averaging 200.3 yards per game. LSU still has five remaining regular season games and a guaranteed bowl game following last week’s 35-28 win against Florida.
There is also the possibility of playing in both the SEC Championship Game and advancing through the first round of the College Football Playoff — which would count as a bowl appearance — to the national championship game.
In total, Fournette could appear in 6-to-8 more games barring an injury. Even with a shortened schedule, he should be able to gain 798 yards.
Fournette should enjoy another historic performance against Western Kentucky on Saturday. The Hilltoppers defense has allowed 172.7 rushing yards per game and ranks No. 77 overall among FBS teams.
Those numbers came against the likes of Vanderbilt, Louisiana Tech, Indiana, Miami (Ohio), Rice, Middle Tennessee State and North Texas. With respect to Vandy’s Ralph Webb — one of the most underrated backs in the SEC — none of these teams have a player the caliber of Fournette.
Even still, the average isn’t enough to draw optimism for Western Kentucky facing the nation’s best player. It’s not like Les Miles won’t give his star player enough carries either.
Sure, Fournette may rest late, but that will be after he’s already broken the 200-yard mark and scored multiple touchdowns. LSU won’t sabotage its player’s chances of winning a Heisman Trophy by not padding his stats against weak competition.
For recruiting purposes, Miles would be wise to let Fournette shine against Western Kentucky. Plus he’s a player’s coach who wouldn’t just spite a player for the sake of doing it.
This is the same coach who claimed to “protect his player” earlier this week when asked about sending clips to the SEC office of Fournette being pushed backwards beyond the whistle.
“I really have not followed up on that,” Miles said on the SEC coach teleconference. “I think that’s really an inter-department working. I’m not at liberty to share what goes one between the SEC office and here. I’ll refrain from doing so.”
Fournette should continue his stellar run through opposing defenses with another big game in Week 8. And LSU should capture its seventh win on Saturday before entering its bye week led by a historic game from its sophomore back.