As the end of the college football season quickly approaches, so comes the awards earned from the season. This season, one of the hottest and most debated awards, the Doak Walker Award, is up for grabs. There have been several running backs this season that have put up mind boggling numbers, such as Melvin Gordon of Wisconsin, Tevin Coleman of Indiana, Ameer Abdullah of Nebraska, and Devon Johnson of Marshall. This entire group has run for over 1,100 yards and scored at least eleven rushing touchdowns this season. Georgia’s Todd Gurley had his name in this conversation prior to his recent suspension for accepting improper benefits in exchange for autographs.
The aforementioned four play in power six conferences or their teams are ranked in the top 25. Three of the top four and four of the top six rushers this season have been members of the Big Ten, trumping any other conference in America. The Doak Walker award has only ever been given to members of the power six conferences, and it doesn’t look like that is going to change this year unless Johnson makes a late push.
Tevin Coleman, whose Hoosiers sit at 3-4, might be the first winner of this award, or even the Heisman, to be a part of a losing team. Coleman is the lone bright spot on an otherwise lost season for the Hoosiers who are already using a backup true freshman, Zander Diamont, who the Hoosiers planned on redshirting this year. Coleman has impressed in every game this season, his worst performance of the season came against Maryland when he ran for 122 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown. He has shown true leadership on the field this year and his production has shown that; he hasn’t had a game this season with less than 120 yards rushing. This season, the quarterback play of the Hoosiers has been lacking with starter Nate Sudfeld throwing for a bit over 1,150 yards and six touchdowns to three interceptions. Sudfeld ranks fourth from the bottom in passing yards this season in the Big Ten and the Hoosiers record has shown that. Coleman has had all of these impressive numbers despite the fact that he has played one less game than the other leading rushers and is only about 50 yards behind the leader, Abdullah.
The Heisman cases for Abdullah, Johnson, and Gordon are all very strong because all of their teams are either ranked or close to it. Abdullah has led the Cornhuskers to a 7-1 start, Johnson has led Marshall to an undefeated season so far, and Melvin Gordon has kept the Badgers competitive at 5-2 this season and outside of the top 25. Although Coleman is leading the Big Ten in most offensive rushing categories, his team has just fallen apart around him and has left the Hoosiers at 3-4. With the bowl season quickly approaching, the Hoosiers have five games left to make their mark on the college football season and make a bowl game. Coleman can solidify his case for the nations best running back over the next few weeks, but he will have to lead to Hoosiers up against tough opponents such as Rutgers, Ohio State, and in-state rival Purdue to end the season at home.
*Section Photo credit to Michael Hickey, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Pat Lovell, USA Today Sports