Benny Snell Jr. plays for a Kentucky program that hasn't won nine games in a season since 1984. Not once in the last 30 years has a Heisman Trophy winner played on a team who won fewer than nine games.
Snell ran for 165 yards and four touchdowns on 25 carries in Kentucky's 28-7 win over Mississippi State in Week 4. The Wildcats' junior running back ranks third nationally in rushing yards (540), fourth in rushing touchdowns (seven) and first in yards per carry among players with at least 80 carries (6.21). And on Monday, Kentucky launched Snell's Heisman campaign with a website and video, though they're not officially calling it a Heisman campaign.
The 165-yard, four-touchdown performance, which moved Kentucky to 4-0 for the first time since 2008 and led to their first AP ranking since 2007, rocketed Snell up the Heisman odds. While still a long shot at 80:1, the former three-star recruit now has the 14th-best odds, according to Las Vegas SuperBook.
If Snell maintains his current production pace through the entire season, he'd finish the regular season with 1,620 rushing yards and 21 rushing touchdowns. That's not enough yards. And even if he flirts with 2,000 yards and has several 200-yard games, it won't matter if Kentucky doesn't win at least nine or 10 games.
Lamar Jackson won the 2016 Heisman Trophy despite leading a Louisville team that finished 9-4. He was the first Heisman winner from a non-10-win team since Tim Tebow in 2007. Ricky Williams (1998) also did it for a nine-win team, as did Andre Ware, though Ware's Houston team only played nine games in 1989.
Forty-eight of the 83 Heisman winners came from teams who played at least 12 games. Of those 48 12-game winners, only 10 played on teams who won fewer than 10 games. And only 11 Heisman winners played on teams who won less than 75 percent of their total games (e.g. for Kentucky, a 9-4 record in a 12-game regular season plus a bowl game).
Further, the last 30 Heisman winners have played on teams who won an average of 11.4 games. Of those 30 teams, 19 won a conference title and eight won a national championship. However, interestingly, of the 17 teams who played in a division, only nine teams won a division title.
The numbers aren't great for Kentucky. They haven't won eight games since 2008, won nine games since 1986, won 10 games since 1977 and won 11 games since 1950. They've never won a divisional title (SEC football split into divisions in 1992) and haven't won a conference title since 1976, one of only two all-time conference titles.
The numbers suggest Benny Snell has no Heisman shot if Kentucky doesn't win at least nine games and a division title. However, what if Kentucky makes a run? It's only Week 5, but what if Snell and the Wildcats keep rolling and are undefeated entering their Nov. 3 home game vs. Georgia?
If that happens and Kentucky stuns Georgia to take the driver's seat in the SEC East, the history is more worthless than preseason polls that picked Kentucky to finish fourth in the East.