Every year, viewers tend to be miffed by what one must do to win the Heisman Trophy, as there seems to be no written set of rules of what one must do to win. But even as the rules seem to bend with every passing victor, basic qualifications for winning the award tend to be that one must put up excellent statistics, be on an excellent team and show up in big games. Of course there are other reasons that people win the award, but without doing each of these three things, it is literally impossible to win.
When it comes to the case of UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley, it has been utterly apparent over the first seven weeks of the season that putting up great statistics and playing for a great team can already be checked off the list of the to-do list. Throughout this period Hundley has compiled incredible statistics, with 1469 passing yards, 68.1 percent completion percentage, 12 touchdowns, and five interceptions heading into Week 8. Likewise, Hundley has also guided an incredibly effective team, as UCLA sat at 5-0 and the ninth ranking in the country heading into the weekend. Undoubtedly both of these components put Hundley in the race for Heisman Trophy contenders, and possibly even at the top of the list.
When it came to playing in big games though, Hundley had been held back by a somewhat weak opening schedule for UCLA. Fortunately for the star quarterback, a Week 8 game against the 13th ranked Stanford was always going to be as big time as it gets, and in turn provide an opportunity to put a check next to the three basic qualifications of a Heisman Trophy winner.
Unfortunately for Hundley, this big game turned into a dud, as put in arguably the worst performance of his collegiate career as UCLA lost 24-10. During the game he threw the ball rather efficiently at 24 of 39, but his lowly total of 192 passing yards began to show that the quarterback put in a poor outing. Meanwhile his inability to convert these yards into touchdowns further clouded Hundley’s afternoon, as his one touchdown and two interceptions — including one with a little more than 2:00 left on the clock — display the fact that he was rattled by Stanford’s defense.
Watching the on field product told much of the same putrid story, as Hundley looked nervous delivering the ball in what was surely the most important game of his career. While his accuracy was not fully in question, his ability to deliver the ball down the field definitely was, as only one of 24 completions during the game went for more than 20 yards.
Some will surely blame this on an offensive line that was not performing great, but it becomes apparent after watching Marcus Mariota and Johnny Manziel shift their way around defenders at ease that a good quarterback should be able to make up for bad line play at the college football level. In fact, in recent years, one could begin to make the claim that it is a requirement for most stud quarterbacks.
Ultimately, both of these quarterbacks, along with Zach Mettenberger and Tajh Boyd (at least prior to Saturday night), will be able to boast having showed up in the big time games that decide trophy winners, while Hundley will not. The value of this to voters cannot be understated, as every Heisman Trophy winner in recent memory has had a so-called Heisman Moment in a big game against a big rival.
Saturday’s game had the potential to provide this moment for Hundley in the race for the Heisman Trophy, but sadly he failed. Better luck next year.