On Saturday night, the defending Big 10 champions needed the very last play to win at Iowa. Playing the Iowa Hawkeyes at home is an always difficult task, and the Nittany Lions led by quarterback Trace McSorley and super running back Saquon Barkley had just enough to survive.
They usually say that a Heisman Trophy winner will have his Heisman moment. Saquon Barkley may have had his Heisman statement against Iowa.
Penn State could hardly get the ball in the end zone against a very inspired Hawkeye defense, but Barkley was incredible making play after play.
Barkley brings skills to the game that few others do. He is known for leaping over defenders, but
he can run sideways about as quickly as he can run straight ahead. At some point during the game against Iowa, Barkley got the ball and was running towards the sideline. Iowa defenders may have thought he was running the ball out of bounds, but then he dug his right toes into the turf using that as a brake and then the took off back across the field. Who does that?
This past off season, Saquon Barkley put on a show in the off season program. I posted earlier in the year that Barkley ran a 4.33 40 yard dash. Barkley 4.33 40
But, Barkley is more than just a speedster. At 5-11, 230 Barkley is a power back with speed. He is phenomenal in the weight room.
One of the favorite tests at the NFL combine outside of the 40 yard dash is the bench press. Probably the goal of most 300 pound offensive linemen is about 30 reps. The 230 pound Barkley has done 30 reps, and it doesn’t end there.
I don’t know if anyone reading this has spent much time in a gym, but I personally can’t stand doing power cleans. I hate them and I have no idea how much weight I could have thrown up in my prime. I do know that it would have been nowhere near what Saquon Barkley lifted. Barkley power cleaned a really impressive 405 pounds. Not that many offensive, or defensive, linemen can throw around that kind of weight. But, there’s more. Barkley recently squated 5 times with 525 pounds. He has bench pressed 455 pounds, also and was last seen wearing his cape and flying past the Empire State Building.
Simply said, Saquon Barkley is a physical freak of nature.
Quarterback Lamar Jackson won the Heisman Trophy last season as a sophomore. But, Quarterback Sam Darnold of USC was the preseason favorite to win the Heisman this season.
Barkley was probably about third place with early season voters.
But, after Saturday’s performance against Saquon Barkley may have moved into the lead.
Against the Iowa Hawkeyes, Barkley carried the ball 28 times for 211 yards and a score. Coming out of the backfield, Barkley also caught 12 passes for 94 more yards. Barkley also had 3 kickoff returns for an additional 53 yards. He was responsible for 305 total yards which should put him towards the top of the Heisman standings.
The Heisman is not so much about individuals, it seems, but team performance. USC is still unbeaten, but they have not looked very good early in the season. The reason that Darnold rose to the top in the Heisman early season standings is based off of how USC as a team improved last year and earned a Rose Bowl berth, plus a win over Penn State. Lamar Jackson’s team was good last season, but they lost their last 3 games and they have not looked very good this year.
Penn State, on the other hand, has been impressive in the early season. They were not dominating against Iowa, but anyone can see that playing Iowa at home and beating them is a tall task. Just ask Jim Harbaugh how tough a visit to Iowa can be. Visiting Iowa has not been an easy win since the days of former Hawkeye coach Hayden Fry.
Based on individual performances and media perceptions, Saquon Barkley should win the Heisman trophy this season.