OSU football: Chuba Hubbard belongs in NYC for Heisman Trophy ceremony
STILLWATER — Chuba Hubbard has several American locales on his bucket list.
Among them is New York City.
“That’s somewhere I want to go, somewhere in the States I want to go,” he said. “They’ve got the big jumbotron thing like how we’ve got in our stadium. Like if something’s going on in the world … ”
You mean Times Square?
If Heisman Trophy voters are paying attention, Hubbard will make that trip to New York next month. Maybe he’ll even be on that big screen in Times Square.
On a day Oklahoma State demolished Kansas 31-13, the Hubbard for Heisman campaign picked up more steam. It wasn’t because he posted eye-popping numbers. It wasn’t even because he had one of those cross-country jaunts for a touchdown.
Truthfully, Saturday was among his more pedestrian games.
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He rushed for 122 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries.
“Last year we’d have said he had a great day,” Cowboy coach Mike Gundy said of Hubbard’s performance. “This year, it’s an average day for him.”
Hubbard has become a victim of his own success. Go for 296 yards against Kansas State or 223 yards against TCU, and everyone thinks you fall out of bed and get 200 yards. Doesn’t work that way, but that’s the way the Chu Chu Train has chugged along this season.
But Hubbard still made some Heisman hay on Saturday.
For starters, one of the frontrunners is likely out of the race. Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffered a serious season-ending injury. Reports out of Tuscaloosa say he dislocated his hip with a posterior wall fracture.
One of the other frontrunners also sat out another game. Ohio State defensive end Chase Young is serving a suspension, and while he is arguably college football’s most dynamic player, missing two games will undoubtedly hurt his Heisman stock.
Meanwhile, Hubbard keeps ChuChuing along, and Gundy was happy to toot his horn for his tailback. Even though the Cowboy coach has spoken on several occasions in recent weeks about Hubbard and the Heisman, Gundy was his most strident Saturday.
He pointed to Hubbard’s total rushing yards this season, which topped 1,700 with his performance against Kansas.
“At some point, the people who make the decision on who goes to New York have to say … ‘How many guys in the country have rushed for over 1,800 yards?’” Gundy said.
It looks like there will be only three or four guys at Power 5 schools who reach that mark this season. Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor and Boston College’s AJ Dillon have a good shot — both are already over 1,400 yards — while Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins has an outside shot of getting to 1,800 yards.
Hubbard, though, might get there by halftime next week at West Virginia.
Sitting at 1,726 yards, Hubbard has a legit change of reach the 2,000-yard mark in the regular season.
That doesn’t happen much anymore.
Taylor led the nation in rushing last season, but he didn’t go over 2,000 yards until his bowl game. Same for Derrick Henry in 2015. The Alabama tailback finished the season with 2,219 yards rushing, but during his 12-game regular season, he had only 1,797.
Hubbard may get to that mark in less than 11 games.
“Let’s say he goes for 1,900,” Gundy said. “How many guys will rush for 1,900 yards in a Power 5 conference?”
The numbers right now indicate Hubbard would be alone at that total, though again, it seems like he may blow way past 1,900 yards out if he continues playing the way he has been.
“How many quarterbacks will throw for 3,500 or 4,000 at a Power 5 conference school?” Gundy continued.
Looking at the current passing stats, my guess would be half a dozen quarterbacks are likely to reach 3,500 passing yards. Yes, that’s an impressive total, but it’s become somewhat routine. Joe Burrow and Jalen Hurts will get there, but so, too, will Anthony Gordon and Brock Purdy.
Gundy’s point is that Hubbard is likely to do something extremely rare.
“He deserves to be there,” Gundy said of Hubbard being in New York as one of the Heisman finalists. “We’re proud of what he’s done, but at some point, you have to look and say, ‘OK, is this a quarterback award or do running backs and other positions potentially get involved?’”
The Heisman proclaims itself the award for the most outstanding college football player of the year, but pretty clearly, it heavily favors quarterbacks. And if you happen to be a quarterback on one of the top teams in the country, your Heisman chances are even better.
Chuba Hubbard is neither a quarterback nor a star on a top-five team.
But that doesn't mean he shouldn't be in New York next month. If he doesn't get to cross that spot off his bucket list, it won't be because he is unworthy.
It will be because Heisman voters lost sight of what it means to be outstanding.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 405-475-4125 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK or follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok.