In order to win a trophy which has slowly become an award for college football’s best quarterback, Jonathan Taylor was always going to need to have a season that eclipsed the already stunning performances he’s put forth as a Badger.
After a 2018 season in which Taylor led the NCAA in total rushing yards and finished top 10 in total rushing touchdowns, he received just 29 total points during the Heisman Trophy vote. That year’s Heisman winner, Kyler Murray, received nearly 2,200 votes including 517 first place votes.
On top of Murray’s dominating performance, each of the Heisman finalists inside the top six in total votes were quarterbacks. With the Heisman committee clearly favoring quarterbacks in their selection process, it’s quite clear Taylor would have to build upon an already historic performance to have even a chance at securing the prestigious award.
With one of his worst rushing performances yet against The Ohio State University, those chances dwindled down nearly to zero.
Obviously, very little of the blame can be placed onto Taylor for his lackluster total rushing yards. The Ohio State defensive lineman Chase Young, a rare defensive Heisman candidate in his own right, dominated the Badgers offensive line throughout the entire contest.
Young recorded four sacks as well as six solo tackles on the day — both his highest of the season by quite a large margin. The Badgers’ offensive line was outclassed throughout the matchup as they allowed season-high totals of eight tackles for loss and five sacks.
But the fact remains, Taylor managed to rush for just 52 yards on the day. This total is his worst all season and the least amount of single game rushing yards since the Badgers’ loss to Northwestern back in 2018. Even worse is the fact that Taylor had 20 carries on the day. This combination of low yards and a large number of chances caused him to average just 2.6 yards per carry — the worst of his career.
In the race for the Heisman, landmark games matter. The award isn’t just about padding your stats against teams that have no hope of stopping some of the most talented players in existence. It’s also about proving to the committee you can get it done when it counts the most — even if your supporting cast isn’t giving you the support you deserve.
Taylor didn’t receive much help against the Buckeyes, but I doubt that means much in the eyes of Heisman Trophy voters. In such a competitive race for college football’s most coveted award, there is little room for error when competitors like Joe Burrow are putting up impressive stat lines against top-ranked teams week in and week out.
There’s no doubt Taylor can certainly have another shot at the Buckeyes if the Badgers return to their early season form to close the year out. Even with a lights-out performance in a Big Ten championship that is certainly no guarantee in its own right, I find it hard to believe Jonathan Taylor will be on the short-list of legitimate Heisman contenders come December.