Ohio State trio of Fields, Young, Dobbins making run at Heisman voting history

COLUMBUS, OH - AUGUST 31: Chase Young #2 of the Ohio State Buckeyes chases down the ballcarrier against the Florida Atlantic Owls at Ohio Stadium on August 31, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - AUGUST 31: Chase Young #2 of the Ohio State Buckeyes chases down the ballcarrier against the Florida Atlantic Owls at Ohio Stadium on August 31, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

Ohio State could be history’s only team with three Heisman finalists and the first with three finishing in the top-10 since 1973.

An unrivaled rivalry is the biggest stage of Thanksgiving weekend, as No. 1 Ohio State faces No. 13 Michigan, putting the focus on arguably the most viable Heisman Trophy contender not named Joe Burrow. But Justin Fields isn’t alone when it comes to The Game’s trophy implications. No one is likely going to derail Burrow while the LSU quarterback is taking his victory lap over these next two weeks, but what plays out in Ann Arbor Saturday could help get the Buckeyes closer to equalling history — or making it.

Five times a team has sent two players to New York for the ceremony as a finalist. But three? That’s unprecedented. We also haven’t seen a team with three players in the top 10 in voting in 46 years, making the push by this Buckeyes trio a major subplot that’s riding on the back of the Buckeyes’ College Football Playoff aspirations.

Fields is all but certain of heading to New York for the ceremony as a finalist and, heading into the regular-season finale, appears to be the best bet to be runner-up to Burrow (who is, of course, a former Buckeyes quarterback).

The sophomore Fields is fourth in FBS in pass efficiency (190.3) and points responsible for (258) and is the only passer in the nation to have thrown for 30-plus touchdowns with just a single interception (which happened way back on Oct. 5). Since 2000, no one has thrown for 30 or more TDs and had fewer than three picks.

Dobbins, meanwhile, has built a resume as the Buckeyes’ workhorse, averaging 164 yards and 6.4 yards per carry in three games vs. Top 25 opponents, including 36 rushes for 157 and two scores vs. Penn State.

Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor is positioned to be at the ceremony with his run up the career yardage list — he’s seventh — and may be the top vote-getter among running backs, but Dobbins is making it interesting. Fourth in the nation with 1,446 yards, the players above him are Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard, Taylor and Boston College’s AJ Dillon. Hubbard’s on a three-loss team, Dillon’s Eagles have six losses and Dobbins already outdueled Taylor, the defending Doak Walker Award winner, 163 yards to 52 on Oct. 26.

Then there’s one-man wrecking crew Chase Young. If there was any question that the defensive tackle is one of it not the most impactful player in college football, it was answered last weekend vs. the Nittany Lions, as he came back from a two-game suspension and broke the program’s single-season sacks record.

The nation’s leader in QB stops (16 1/2) and tackles for loss (2.2 per game) despite his missing eight quarters of play, Young could well be the first defensive lineman to earn an invite to the ceremony since Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh in 2009.

There’s plenty playing against the Buckeyes getting three players in New York, the biggest being Young’s suspension, which is going to keep him off a number of ballots, regardless of his dominance.

The last player to become a finalist despite a ban was Oregon’s LaMichael James in 2010 and he only missed the season opener, the result of an arrest on domestic violence charges. Young borrowing money from a family friend to fly his girlfriend to the Rose Bowl pales in comparison and there will be plenty of voters that, with the NCAA’s rules long under fire and the moves to allow players to capitalize on their on-field success, will look past it and have Young on their ballots. There will also be those who will say “rules are rules” and deny him.

There’s also the matter of the vagueness with which the Heisman Trust extends its invitation to the ceremony. With as many as three players going and as many as seven, what is the natural break in voting as a cutoff has been arbitrary, though it has typically been around 200 points or less.

In 2009, though, Tim Tebow made his third appearance despite finishing fifth at 425 points behind Suh, making it the greatest points gap between the last two finalists of any group with more than four.

Given the dearth of truly legitimate candidates in this field — Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, the preseason leaders, has likely thrown his final collegiate pass and Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence hasn’t been nearly as dominant as expected — it will either lead to the same candidates on everyone’s ballot (Burrow, Fields and Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts as the front-runners) or allow for others to muscle their way in past the top two of Burrow and Fields.

That crowd of candidates could be the Buckeyes’ chance.

Back in ’73, it was Ohio State that put three players in the top 10, with offensive lineman John Hicks coming in second, future two-time winner Archie Griffin in fifth and linebacker Randy Gradishar sixth. The Buckeyes also did it in 1969 with quarterback Rex Kern (third), running back Jim Otis (seventh) and defensive back Jack Tatum (10th), and in before that, the only teams to equal the feat were Notre Dame in 1942 and ’49 and Army in 1944 and ’46.

But in the era of finalists, which began in 1982, it’s never happened. Ohio State isn’t going to add another Heisman Trophy this season, but its trio of stars may just give us a new chapter in the award’s history, with Saturday vs. the Wolverines the stage to make it that much closer to reality.

Next. 50 greatest college football players this century. dark

For more NCAA football news, analysis, opinion and unique coverage by FanSided, including Heisman Trophy and College Football Playoff rankings, be sure to bookmark these pages.