SEC Championship: Did Stetson Bennett do enough to win the Heisman Trophy?
He’s not a typical candidate.
I mean, if you’re looking for a player who knocks your socks off and puts together a season that will be remembered for generations, then this isn’t it.
I’m not even completely confident that he’s the best player at his position in the country. I see signal-callers at Ohio State, Tennessee and, most of the time, at Southern California who have the look of a player that deserves hardware at the end of the season.
Stetson Bennett is Stetson Bennett.
Sometimes, that means elite passing numbers. Sometimes, that means muted statistics while the defense gets the job done. That is the result of being the quarterback for the best, most balanced team in the country.
But one last time, I’d like to advocate for the former walk-on to be the Heisman Trophy winner.
Bennett had arguably his best game of the season on Saturday, leading the Dawgs to the SEC championship. He passed for 274 yards and 4 touchdowns in a 50-30 drubbing of LSU, boosting his moderate statistics for the season. He now has 20 TD passes and is approaching 3,500 yards.
If you look at the Heisman competition as a collection of 12 or 13 games, then Georgia’s senior is just another drop in the barrel. His numbers are fine, to be sure. His rating is north of 150.0. He has accounted for 27 touchdowns passing and rushing overall as the Dawgs return to the Playoff to defend their national title.
Fine. Those numbers are fine.
But those aren’t Heisman-winning numbers, right? He’s not the best player in the country, is he?
Not at first glance. But as Monday’s voting deadline fast approaches, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give his candidacy a lot of thought. Let’s take a look at Bennett’s performance in Georgia’s biggest games of the season.
- 1. Georgia vs. Oregon: 25-of-31 for 368 yards and 2 touchdowns
passing, 1 rushing touchdown
- 2. Georgia vs. South Carolina: 16-of-23 for 284 yards and 2
touchdowns passing, 1 rushing touchdown
- 3. Georgia vs. Tennessee: 17-of-25 for 257 yards and 2 touchdowns
passing, 1 rushing touchdown
- 4. Georgia vs. LSU: 23-of-29 for 274 yards and 4 touchdowns passing
Here’s the point: Bennett’s numbers are often muted because of the team he played for. He didn’t run up 300 or 400-yard passing games on the regular. He doesn’t have any games of 5 or 6 passing touchdowns.
What he does have, though, is an incredible record against the best teams in the country. And while the Heisman isn’t supposed to be a career achievement, it’s hard to dismiss his overall record as Georgia’s starting QB during this dominant 2-year run.
And if you’re looking for a player who established himself on the biggest stage, excelled, made his team better, drove it to a No. 1 record in the College Football Playoff rankings, then Bennett should not be ignored.
If he were to win, his numbers would be among the least impressive we’ve seen in recent memory. But that is a problem for history.
For today, he’s been the best quarterback in America at the most important times. And, for that, I believe he should get his day in court in New York City.