Nobody’s here to make a case that Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott should have won the 2015 Heisman Trophy.
Alabama’s Derrick Henry has the better rushing numbers and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson has been a one-man wrecking crew as a dual-threat quarterback. Let’s not forget the all-purpose numbers that Christian McCaffrey has put up for Stanford this season.
All that said, Elliott should have been on that stage in New York as a Heisman finalist. He has been one of the most consistent running backs in the country in spite of the myriad of distractions that the Buckeyes have had on offense, namely their quarterback situation.
If you want to look at his overall numbers, Elliott finished the 2015 regular season with 1,672 yards rushing with 19 touchdowns. He averaged 6.4 yards per carry and all but powered the Buckeyes this past fall.
Coming into the Buckeyes’ 17-14 loss to Michigan State back in November, Elliott had 15 straight games where he’s rushed for 100 yards or more. In the loss to the Spartans, Elliott had just 33 yards rushing on 12 carries. It was the second lowest amount of carries he’s had this season.
Elliott, in no uncertain terms, expressed his outrage at not getting enough touches running the ball in a game that ultimately denied the Buckeyes the opportunity to defend their 2014 national champion.
While he was out of line to threaten to go to the pros and to call out his coaches in the media, Elliott was right about not getting the ball enough.
Like a hot RBI producer in baseball, Elliott has consistently carried the Buckeyes offense this season. His lack of carries against Michigan State was curious due to the fact that his production had been going up since head coach Urban Meyer had finally settled on J.T. Barrett as the Buckeyes quarterback.
When Barrett assumed the starting position in the 49-7 win over Rutgers, Elliott gained 142 yards and scored two touchdowns. With Barrett out of the Minnesota game, Elliott still gained 114 yards.
With the exception to the Michigan State game, Elliott gained at least 140 yards when Barrett was the Buckeyes’ signal-caller.
In Ohio State’s season finale against archrival Michigan, Elliott blew the brakes off the Wolverines by rushing for 214 yards on 30 carries and two touchdowns. This was the Elliott that we saw during the Buckeyes’ run to last year’s national championship.
Here’s the thing you have to wonder if you’re an Ohio State fan, how many more yards would Elliott have compiled had Meyer inserted Barrett as the starting quarterback at the beginning of the season.
Cardale Jones was good during the Buckeyes’ run through the Big Ten title game and the inaugural College Football Playoff. But Barrett just has a better feel for running that offense and had a knack for getting Elliott into the flow of the offense.
Still, Elliott, along with guys like Navy’s Keenan Reynolds and Florida State’s Dalvin Cook, deserved to be at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York.
Elliott was the only consistent force of a Buckeyes offense that didn’t really find its groove until late in the year.
Unfortunately, in the one game that really mattered, Elliott and the Buckeyes came up woefully short and that ended a bid for the Heisman and the national championship.