If the Heisman Trophy had a player-of-the-week honor, as some of college football's national awards do, Leonard Fournette would have won it at least once or twice already this season.
Player of the month? Sure, give the LSU star the September Heisman. He's been rushed to front-runner status, and deservedly so.
However, when the accounting firm of Deloitte & Touche makes its official annual tally of the Heisman votes in December, Fournette won't be the winner.
Let's count the reasons:
1. It's become a quarterback's award. Quarterbacks have taken home 13 of the 15 Heismans since 2000. And they have a lot more 400-yard passing games in store to impress Heisman voters than Fournette will have 200-yard rushing games. Remember Trevone Boykin? The TCU quarterback who was the offseason Heisman favorite has done nothing to knock himself out of the race. He's on pace for 4,000 yards and 40 touchdown passes. USC's Cody Kessler isn't to be discounted; neither is Cal's Jared Goff. Right or wrong, fair or unfair, Fournette could be joining the trail of failed running back Heisman campaigns that includes LaDainian Tomlinson, Adrian Peterson, Trent Richardson, and most recently, Melvin Gordon.
2. Sooner or later, Fournette will be stopped. The punishment Fournette absorbs, whether it looks like it or not, is just as unholy as that which he delivers. He'll see eight-man defensive fronts, throughout the season, designed to stop him and put the game on the shoulders of first-year starting quarterback Brandon Harris. And they'll be much better defensive fronts than the one Syracuse fielded on Saturday. Be it against Florida, Ole Miss, or Alabama, Fournette's 20-for-50 reckoning is coming. And if it comes in a loss for the Tigers, voters will hop to a quarterback's Heisman wagon quicker than a TCU scoring drive.
3. It's a stats award. Nothing drives Heisman votes quite like numbers. Fournette is already behind in that regard, because weather conditions forced LSU to cancel its opener against McNeese State. He'll play 11 regular-season games, and everyone else will play 12. That might not be fair, either, but the 200-plus yards he could have had in that game could ultimately be the difference between reaching and not reaching the 2,000-yard milestone that will matter to less discerning Heisman voters. And lest we forget: Gordon had 2,000 yards last season before the Heisman ballots were even due, and still didn't finish on top.
Installing Fournette as the Heisman front-runner for now is merited. He's been nothing short of spectacular. But leading the Heisman race in September doesn't make Fournette likely to break the tape in December.