Even though it was a defensive struggle, Big Noon Saturday lived up to the hype, alright. While the Michigan Wolverines were able to eke out a 24-15 road victory over the Penn State Nittany Lions with Sherrone Moore filling in for a twice-suspended Jim Harbaugh, it was not a banner day for their Heisman Trophy hopeful quarterback J.J. McCarthy. He played fine, but his stat line was not great...
McCarthy completed only 7-of-8 passes for 60 yards on the afternoon. He also had eight carries for 34 yards. Michigan completely gave up on throwing the ball in the second half, as this was probably part of the offensive game plan put forth by Moore. He may be their offensive coordinator, but he at his core is an offensive line coach. Moore had McCarthy lean on the running game to win.
Conversely, it was a fantastic day for senior running back Blake Corum. He played probably his best game of the season for Michigan this year, as he had 26 carries for 145 yards and two touchdowns. Ollie Gordon II may be in the driver's seat for the Doak Walker out of Oklahoma State, but Corum has greater brand recognition from playing a part in Michigan's last two College Football Playoff teams.
Michigan beats Penn State, but J.J. McCarthy's Heisman hopes take a hit
Look. If I were McCarthy, I would rather win a national title than win the Heisman Trophy. Should he be the quarterback to take Michigan to the promised land, he will be a legend unlike pretty much anybody else before him, especially if it comes at the end of what has been such a chaotic for the program. What McCarthy has shown me is he can be a leader of men, without making it all about him.
The shame in all this is how the Heisman voters work. Some people have votes who should not and will vote for the quarterback on the best team with the best stats. McCarthy may check two of those boxes, but he may not end up with the numbers of either star Pac-12 passer in Oregon's Bo Nix or Washington's Michael Penix Jr. Heck, he may not even eclipse Carson Beck over at Georgia now...
Overall, this is just small potatoes when it comes to something much bigger. Yes, the Heisman Trophy is somewhat of a team award because the winner's team cannot be garbage. He pretty much needs to lead a team that goes at least 10-2, all things equal. Should McCarthy get Michigan to 12-0 with a monumental performance over Ohio State in The Game, that could be enough to get him the trophy.
He can become a playoff champion, but it is hard to win a Heisman with a 60-passing yard game.