Dalvin Cook is arguably the best back in the country. We’ve thought this for a while, even last year when he rushed for over 1,600 yards and 19 TD’s. But is this Seminole poised to make a run at the 2016 Heisman? His resume is better than you think.
To make the case for Dalvin Cook, we need to make one thing very clear. The likelihood of a Heisman going to player outside of the ‘Power-5’ conferences is next to impossible. It’s as unlikely as walking away from a presidential debate thinking “America couldn’t have asked for two finer candidates.” The Heisman is similar to the college football playoff, unfortunately only P-5 teams have a legitimate shot at postseason glory. I don’t like it either but that’s just the way it is.
With that said Cook is the best P-5 running back and it’s not even close. Remember Leonard Fournette? This is where Cook ranks among other P-5 running backs (saying “running backs” eliminates QB Lamar Jackson from these rushing stats. As we’ve seen, Jackson is more hybrid than he is one specific type of player. He’s the Indominus Rex of college football):
- 1st in rushing yards (900). That’s at least 115 yards better than everybody else.
- 2nd in receiving yards for a running back (356).
- 1st in yards per catch (17.0) for players who’ve caught at least 20 passes.
- 1st in total yards from scrimmage (1,256). Next closest is Curtis Samuel for Ohio State with 859.
Not too bad for a guy who’s played the 5th toughest schedule so far this season. Cook has had at least 192 yards from scrimmage in four of the seven games so far. The other three; a blowout win against Charleston Southern where Cook barely played over a half yet still had 83 yards with two TD’s on 11 carries, a blowout loss against Louisville where FSU all but abandoned the run game, and finally against Wake Forest last week where Cook still ran for 115 yards and a TD.
Where Cook’s Heisman argument hits a proverbial wall, are the two losses FSU has endured consequently resulting in an improbable chance to win the ACC. The first loss, like mentioned before, was an absolute shellacking of epic proportions at Louisville. The Seminoles were down 35-10 at halftime and they may or may not have stayed in the locker room for the second half. They got crushed, 63-20. The 2nd loss came at home against UNC after a last second 54-yard field for the Tar Heels split the uprights at the horn. Hard to fault Cook in that loss, 35 touches for 246 yards and three touchdowns.
There is some redemption on the Heisman horizon. After a bye this weekend, FSU hosts Clemson in what should be an fantastic matchup between two Heisman heavyweights, Cook and Clemson QB Deshaun Watson. If FSU, currently #13 in the AP Polls, can beat Clemson and ride the victory wave all the way to the end of the season, FSU will have one last game in the spotlight. That’s when the Gators of Florida come to town. This game is unlikely to have anything on the line standings wise (Clemson and Louisville would have to lose twice each in order for FSU to compete in the ACC Championship), it does feature an in-state rivalry against two elite programs and one big Heisman opportunity for Cook.
For Cook, history is on his side. The running back position has won the Heisman more than any other position. What better candidate than the best running back in the best conferences playing against the best teams?