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2011 Heisman: The Case For Robert Griffin III

When the winner of the Heisman is announced on Saturday, Robert Griffin III should be the one receiving the award, not Andrew Luck.

WACO, TX - DECEMBER 03:  Robert Griffin III #10 of the Baylor Bears runs onto the field before a game against the Texas Longhorns at Floyd Casey Stadium on December 3, 2011 in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
WACO, TX - DECEMBER 03: Robert Griffin III #10 of the Baylor Bears runs onto the field before a game against the Texas Longhorns at Floyd Casey Stadium on December 3, 2011 in Waco, Texas. (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
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When the Heisman trophy winner is announced on Saturday, it's expected that one of two quarterbacks will win the award: either Stanford's Andrew Luck or Baylor's Robert Griffin III. Truth be told, Griffin is the one who truly deserves the award. Simply put, Griffin has been better than Luck across the board all season long.

First, let's dispel the notion that Luck possesses some sort of "winning" quality. True, Luck's Cardinal are headed to the Fiesta Bowl and only lost one game all year, a 53-30 loss to the eventual Pac-12 champion Oregon Ducks. Griffin's Bears, meanwhile, are ticketed for the Alamo Bowl after dropping three games this year. 

But who cares? Griffin should not be punished for playing on a lesser team than Luck does, nor should be punished for playing in a superior conference. If you're going to argue that Luck led his team to a better season, then Griffin certainly led his team to better wins.

Remember back during the first week of the season when TCU's vaunted defense was shredded in Baylor's upset win over the Horned Frogs? Griffin played as well as anybody this season in that game, completing 21 of 27 passes for 359 yards, throwing five touchdown passes, rushing for 38 yards and adding a reception. 

TCU's defense, while not as good as it has been in years past, still only allowed 20.3 points per game in 2011.

Griffin also led the Bears to wins over Oklahoma and Texas, throwing six touchdowns and rushing for two more in those two games combined, while throwing for 799 yards. 

Despite playing a much tougher schedule than Luck did, Griffin still managed to put up superior numbers across the board. It's not even close, either:

Griffin: 3,998 yards, 72.4% completion, 10.84 yards per attempt, 36 touchdowns, 6 interceptions
Luck: 3,170 yards, 70% completion, 8.5 yards per attempt, 35 touchdowns, 9 interceptions

Not only did Griffin average more than two yards more per attempt while completing a higher percentage of passes and throwing three fewer interceptions, Griffin also out-rushed Luck. Griffin averaged four yards per carry en route to 644 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns. Luck, while admittedly not a mobile quarterback, ran for 153 yards and picking up two touchdowns on the ground.

It's no secret that Luck will almost certainly be the No. 1 overall pick next April in the NFL Draft, but that doesn't mean that he was the best player in college football this season. Luck may certainly be the better pro prospect, but, once again, the Heisman is not about who is the best pro prospect. The Heisman is simply about who the most outstanding player was in college football in a given season. 

There's truly no doubt that Griffin was the most outstanding player in college football in 2011. Let's just hope the voters see it that way, too.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.