Discover Fan Loyalty Poll: Could A RB Be Thankful For A Heisman Shot After QB Upsets, Character Concerns?

The 2013 Heisman Trophy race has long been thought of as strictly for quarterbacks. After all, it has been that way for quite some time now. Football is a QB driven league, and running backs have proven to be a dime-a-dozen. But does that mean that the elite RBs in the country should not have a shot at winning college football’s most prestigious honor? After a week featuring top signal callers either coming up short in losses or one who carries major character concerns, a pair of runners may have climbed into consideration. What better time to be thankful for an opportunity than Thanksgiving?

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The latest results from the Discover Fan Loyalty Poll also dealt with the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, and how college football fans across the country view food, their family and their favorite football team. The Week five topics related to Thanksgiving, asking college football fans whether or not they would give up their seat at the dinner table this Thursday in exchange for free tickets at the 50-yard-line to watch their favorite team play. Overall, 42 percent of the fans surveyed said that they would rather pass on turkey than pass the pie around the table, opting to accept the free tickets to watch their favorite team play. While that number is high, the majority – at 55 percent – said that they agree with the sentiment that home is where the heart is, and that even free tickets at midfield to watch their favorite college football team play would not be enough to get them to skip Thanksgiving dinner with their family.

It seems that while turkey and football go together, just don’t make fans choose one over the other. The majority will try to find a way to thoroughly enjoy the best of both worlds!

When breaking the data down by conference, fans of an SEC or American Athletic Conference team were most likely to take the free tickets, at 46 percent, which is three percentage points higher than the average fan. On the flip side, fans of Pac-12 teams said that they would not skip the traditional Thanksgiving Day festivities, as 60 percent would pass up the tickets in favor of spending the day with family. This Thanksgiving, only fans of four teams would have to make that decision, as the only two college football games scheduled are the Ole Miss Rebels traveling to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Texas Longhorns hosting the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Both of these games will have bowl implications, but neither will have any ramifications on any of the five BCS Bowl Games.

They also will not feature any of the 2013 Heisman Trophy candidates, but what if a game on Thanksgiving did feature a player who was still in the running for the game’s top honor? Would that force you to reconsider giving up your seat at the Thanksgiving table in order to attend the game in person, not to mention the fact that you would be sitting in free seats st the game, also free of cost? I bet some of you are seriously pondering a different answer right about now!

*         Discover Products Inc. sent me a Gift Card for participating as a Blogger in the Discover Fan Loyalty Poll program

What about when it comes to the dinner menu on Thanksgiving? This is certainly more of a personal preference, with many people having such different tastes. In the longstanding debate over which Thanksgiving dinner staple people cannot live without, college football fans weighed in and turkey sits squarely on top, proving that the debate may not be as close as some may feel. Turkey takes the top billing with 48 percent, followed by stuffing at 20 percent, pie at 9 percent, mashed potatoes at 7 percent and cranberry sauce at 2 percent. Surprisingly, 12 percent said that another item of food is No. 1 in their hearts. While stuffing and pie and the top two musts on my Thanksgiving dinner plate, I would love to know what of the rest of you would say – especially the 12 percent who did not choose any of the top five food items as their No. 1 choice. Once again, feel free to weigh in with your own responses below.

While fans are hungry for different foods, certain players are still hungry to lead their teams to victories while impressing the Heisman Trophy committee. Entering Week 13, all of the leading Heisman candidates were quarterbacks. But, with Bryce Petty, Johnny Manziel and Marcus Mariota unable to lead their respective teams to a big win, they also watched their Heisman chances take a huge hit. They may not be out of the chase entirely, but they will have to turn in a pair of unbelievable performances in their teams’ final two games to revive their chances.

Another QB candidate may have some work to do to improve his Heisman hopes, although it has little to do with his on-field performance. Jameis Winston continues to lead the Florida State Seminoles to an undefeated mark, yet questions of an alleged sexual assault could hinder his chances. Many voters take character into account and, while we do now know whether or not Winston will be charged, many will not want to vote for a player who could be suspended or even arrested within the next month or beyond.

So, who does that leave? More quarterbacks, of course. A.J. McCarron is still my top choice, because all this kid does is win. His numbers are not flashy, but they do not have to be, as it is not what the Alabama Crimson Tide are about. Unfortunately, I seem to be in the minority in this debate. Jordan Lynch, Tajh Boyd and Derek Carr also deserve to be in the Heisman discussion, although I do not see any of them winning.

What about if we actually opened our eyes and expanded the Heisman chatter to include running backs? If that were to somehow happen, I would throw two names into the discussion. In leading the upset bid over the Oregon Ducks this past Saturday, Arizona Wildcats RB Ka’Deem Carey set the school’s all-time rushing record. He has not rushed for less than 115 yards in any game, and is a force with which to be reckoned in the Pac-12 conference.

The other top RB also plays for a 7-4 team often overlooked. Andre Williams of the Boston College Eagles has rushed for over 2,000 yards this season. That has not been seen in college football in five years, and Williams has been dominant on the ground for the Eagles. He rushed for 263 yards in a tight victory over the Maryland Terrapins on Saturday, and that was actually his lowest output in the past three games. He is a legitimate running back who will play on Sundays at the next level.

In the end, I don’t know if voters will even give either running back any first place votes. Yet, while they are unlikely to win, both Carey and Williams at least deserve an invite to this year’s Heisman Trophy presentation. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen.

What do you think? Is the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner going to be another quarterback, or does a player from another position have a chance to take home the hardware?

Make sure that you stay tuned to Boston Super Blog for all of the latest polls and results from the Discover Fan Loyalty Poll. We have got you covered throughout the remainder of the 2013 college football season, leading all the way up to the BCS Championship Game! Make sure to Like Discover on Facebook and follow them on Twitter!

The Discover Fan Loyalty Poll is conducted twice a month by Rasmussen Reports, a nationally recognized leader in polling, who gathers sentiment by phone from 1500 college football fans who follow games at least once per week on television, radio, in person or online. The Poll leads up to the 2014 Discover Orange Bowl. Discover’s commitment to college football includes relationships with ESPN and Notre Dame Football on NBC.

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About the author

Rob Kelley

Rob Kelley is a sports reporter for various newspapers in Florida, and is trying to break back into the sports writing game after a brief hiatus following the publishing of his first book, I'm Not a Quitter. He recently resigned as Editor-in-Chief and lead writer for The South Shore Magazine to pursue better opportunities. You can follow him on Twitter @RobKelley24.