The Heisman of the Week is a totally serious column in which we dissect the performances of literally thousands of college football players to tell you which ones deserve the Heisman Trophy mostly based on just this last week of competition ... and which players are actually setting themselves up for contention for the thing. (They're not always the same.)
Heismen of the Week: Michigan's defense
Maybe the Heisman should be melted down into a bunch of charm bracelets and given to Michigan's entire defense. What has been more outstanding in college football this year?
The Wolverines opened and shut the book (nerd joke) on Northwestern's undefeated season on Saturday, and did it early. Jourdan Lewis pick-sixing the Wildcats in the second quarter felt like the killshot. He outscored the Wildcats, because they didn't score any points, and neither did the last two teams Michigan played. Since Jake Rudock threw a pick-six of his own in the fourth quarter at Utah, Michigan has allowed 14 points over its last five games. Throw out that TD, which wasn't the defense's fault, and Michigan's defense has only given up 31 points all year.
36 teams are giving up that many points on average this season.
The Wolverines also basically don't allow long drives, and the three possessions covering 50 or more yards they have conceded since that game at Utah are essentially the only flaws they've shown. Oh, and the long drives Oregon State and UNLV put together against Michigan both hinged on brilliant, singular pass plays, while the one Northwestern mustered in the first quarter on Saturday stalled before it even got to the red zone.
2011 Alabama's potentially greatest-in-modern-college-football-history defense allowed 3.32 yards per play and 8.2 points per game. 2015 Michigan, through half a season, is allowing 3.10 yards per play and 7.6 points per game.
The last and only time a Heisman went to a defender, it went to a Michigan Man. This year, just give it to all of 'em.
Heisman Hopeful of the Week: Dalvin Cook, Florida State
Cook has been here before, after he ran for 266 yards in FSU's closer-than-it-should've-been win over South Florida. Now he's back after running for 222 yards and two scores (and adding 47 yards and a TD on receptions) in FSU's close-but-expectedly-so win over Miami.
Cook's on pace to obliterate FSU's single-season rushing record. Warrick Dunn had 1,393 in 1995, and Cook is on track to run for 2,217 in 14 games. And with the 'Noles still seemingly hesitant to entrust Everett Golson with more than intermediate routes, Cook is the skeleton key for FSU, able to open up so many things with his versatile skillset.
Cook did deal with an injury this week that kept him limited at practice, and FSU's gotten so little from other runners that it makes sense to protect him by limiting his workload. But he's also averaging 9.0 yards per carry to Leonard Fournette's 8.6, and is just about the only back nationally with more big-play potential. If you wanted to place a long-odds bet on some player hawking the invincible Fournette, Cook's your man.
Ha-Hasman of the Week: Jordan Canzeri, Iowa
While we're talking about wagering: I would have bet anything that I was not going to write about an Iowa player in this space this year. And yet, Canzeri carried the ball 43 times (!) for 256 yards and a score to help the Hawkeyes move to 6-0.
Iowa ran 82 plays, so Canzeri got the ball on more than half of them, and yet he was still just six feet from an even 6.0 yards per carry. He also only lost yardage once on those carries. And he plays for Kirk Ferentz.
You, sir, deserve your spot here.
They Can't Win The Heismen of the Week: Matt Johnson, Bowling Green; Brendan Doughty, Western Kentucky
Johnson's line against UMass: 33-for-39, 450 yards, five touchdowns, and a 223.84 passer rating. Doughty's line against Middle Tennessee State: 28-for-36, 359 yards, five touchdowns, a pick, and a 201.82 passer rating.
Both passers got to the 2,000-yard mark in their fifth games last week, and Johnson made it to 2,500 yards (he's at 2,534 now) in his sixth game. Doughty will get there in his seventh, assuredly. Both could also play in 14 games this year, if their respective teams make conference championship games and bowls, as seems likely.
And so we might have just the fourth season in which two FBS passers throw for more than 5,000 yards, following 1990 (Ty Detmer and David Klingler), 2007 (Graham Harrell and Paul Smith), and 2008 (Harrell and Case Keenum). Johnson's still slightly ahead of the pace (he's on track for 5,912 passing yards) set by B.J. Symons, holder of the FBS single-season record (5,833 passing yards).
Neither player will win the Heisman. Both will have incredible seasons anyway, barring injury.