Darrell Henderson has no shot at winning the Heisman Trophy. None. The Memphis running back might earn a finalist invitation to New York, but, as a player on a three-loss (through seven weeks) Group of Five team, Henderson has no chance. However, his numbers are Heisman-worthy and, if he continues at this pace, will be revered for decades.
After his 31-carry, 199-yard performance in a near-upset of UCF in Week 7, Henderson leads the FBS in rushing yards (1,113) and yards per carry (10.3), total yards (1,324) and total touchdowns (15). He's rushed for at least 174 yards in five of the Tigers' seven games, has six multi-touchdown games, is averaging 17.4 yards on 11 receptions and has at least one carry of 40 or more yards in six games.
At his current pace of 10.3 yards per attempt on 15.7 attempts per game, Henderson flirting with becoming the first player in FBS history to average at least 10 yards per carry on 160 or more carries. And he's within striking distance of the record of the single-season yards-per-carry record of 11.51 yards (min. 75 attempts), set by Army running back Glenn Davis in 1945.
Any Power Five running back with those numbers would be running away with the Heisman this season, last season or any season. Some Group of Five running backs on teams who aren't 4-3 might be doing the same — or, at the very least, they'd be among the front-runners. Henderson, however, on this Memphis team, has no chance.
Here's why, as noted in, "What History Says About Benny Snell's Heisman Odds":
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 Memphis, 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.
Entering a Week 8 game at Missouri, Memphis is 4-3 (1-3 in the American) against a bad schedule. They've played one above-.500 team (UCF), lost to two 2-4 teams (Navy and Tulane), and their three FBS wins have come against UConn, South Alabama and Georgia State.
Henderson's numbers are eye-popping and worthy of legitimate Heisman consideration, especially if he becomes the first-ever player to average 10 yards on 200 carries. Even then, Heisman voters, fair or not, won't care. Remember, 15 percent of Heisman voters have no business voting.
For now, just enjoy Darrell Henderson's potentially historical 2018 season.