Notre Dame, IN (UHND.com) – A berth to the national championship game was not the only thing riding on the outcome of this past weekends much ballyhooed Ohio State-Michigan game. Ever since Notre Dame’s loss to Michigan in September, Troy Smith has been the clear front runner for the award, and his performance against the Wolverines Saturday all but etched his name on this year’s trophy.
Most Notre Dame fans, myself included, have been arguing for weeks that the race for the Heisman should be closer than the media had made it out to be. While Quinn started the season as the front runner, the Michigan debacle knocked him off his perch and Troy Smith moved right in and hasn’t relinquished his status as front runner since then.
For Quinn to win the Heisman, he needed to continue to put up good numbers this weekend, which he did with three more touchdowns, but he also needed Ohio State to lose with Smith looking not so impressive. Unfortunately for Quinn, that did not happen.
Looking at the matter objectively, you tell me what performance is more impressive – 22 of 30, 212 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception against an unranked opponent with a 3-7 record or 29 of 41, 316 yards, 4 touchdowns, 1 interception against the # 2 team in the country with an 11-0 record?
You can throw whatever stats you want out there in Quinn’s defense. He’s got more yards, touchdowns, and a better touchdown/interception ratio than Smith, but the one thing Smith has that Quinn does not is a big win in a marquee game where he was almost unstoppable.
Another argument for Quinn was Smith’s poor performances against Penn State and Michigan State – the common opponents of the two. That argument swung back in Smith’s favor this weekend considering Quinn’s four turnover performance against Michigan earlier this season.
Quinn’s last chance to really make a case for the Heisman was always the USC game. Unfortunately, that game comes a week after Smith’s performance against Michigan while most of the voters’ minds are likely already made up.
Even though Quinn will lead the Irish into Los Angeles this weekend with a slight chance of taking Notre Dame to the title game with a win, even a monumental effort will still most likely not be enough to narrow the gap with Smith.
Whether it is fair or not, Smith held a huge lead over everyone else in most voters’ minds going into this weekend and with the hype surrounding the Ohio State-Michigan game, most probably saw at most the first quarter of the Notre Dame-Army game before tuning into ABC for what was effectively, the Big 10 championship game.
So, even if the voters were watching before the Buckeyes and Wolverines teed it off, they saw Quinn and the Notre Dame offense get shut out by the Army defense. They then got to see Smith throw 4 touchdown passes against the #2 ranked defense going into the weekend.
There are still some Irish faithful who are holding out hope Quinn can become the eighth Heisman winner in Notre Dame history, but objectively speaking, I just don’t see how that will be possible at this point.. I would have loved to see Quinn giving an acceptance speech from the Downtown Athletic club in December, but for all intents and purposes, Smith almost certainly won it on Saturday.
Stats alone cannot win a Heisman trophy, so despite Brady having some gaudy numbers this year, Smith’s performances against Texas on the road earlier in the year and this past weekend at home against Michigan will be too much for Quinn to overcome.
If I had a Heisman vote, I would wait and see what Quinn does against USC and what Darren McFadden does against LSU and Florda. Unfortunately, I do not have such a vote, and I think this race is over in the minds of most of those people that do have such a vote.
Despite most likely losing the Heisman, Quinn is still in the midst of a truly fantastic season. He tied his own single season touchdown record of 32 with his three touchdowns against Army on Saturday and he currently owns 35 Notre Dame records.
Regardless of the outcome of the Heisman or any other post season award Quinn is up for, when all is said and done, Quinn will be remembered as one of, if not THE greatest quarterback in Notre Dame history.
While Quinn’s performance against USC next weekend, may not be enough to sway many Heisman votes in his favor, it could cement his status as a Notre Dame legend. He is currently 0-3 against USC in his career with two of those losses by a combined 62 points. A win on the road against USC would end the Trojans hopes for a national title and would add to the lore Quinn has built over these past four seasons.
Draft Status Still Secured
One thing Quinn most likely HASN’T lost is being the first overall draft choice this coming April. Even if whichever team ends up with the first pick is not in need of a quarterback such as the 2-8 Arizona Cardinals, who drafted Matt Leinart 10th overall last year, its likely that a team desperate for a QB will trade up for the top spot to secure Quinn which should be a nice consolation prize.
At worst, Quinn should easily be the first quarterback selected in the draft even if that pick happens to not be the first overall.
Pro scouts love Quinn’s game and as Chris Mortenson reported Sunday morning, a lot of scouts think Smith is closer to 5’11” than the 6’1” he is listed at in the Ohio State media guide. If Smith measures in under six feet at either the combine or at Ohio State’s pro day, he likely won’t be a first round pick based on Mortenson’s comments.