With his 204 yards rushing last Saturday at Utah, Arizona running back Ka'Deem Carey overtook Nevada's Stefphon Jefferson as the leading ball carrier in college football.
ESPN.com's panel of Heisman Trophy experts took notice, adding Carey to its list of top 10 candidates for the most prestigious individual honor in the land. Carey ranks No. 8, ahead of fellow Pac-12 running back, Stepfan Taylor of Stanford; and stellar dual threat, Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch.
Carey has a lot of ground to make up with voters if he's to crack the top five, the mark that typically lands an invitation to the Downtown Athletic Club. USC wide receiver Marqise Lee and Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller are tied for that fifth spot with 26 points; Carey has one.
The Heisman attention Carey is beginning to generate makes his exclusion from the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation's premiere running back, further confounding. When studying running backs for my FWAA All-America ballot, Carey's statistics stack up favorably against any rusher in the nation.
His 19 touchdowns are more than finalists Montee Ball (17) or Johnathan Franklin (10) have accumulated, and match the total Oregon back Kenjon Barner has scored. Carey is also averaging more yards per attempt than either Ball or Franklin.
Should his nation-leading pace of 144.1 yards per game stand, Carey will hold a distinction no one in Tucson has had in nearly six decades. A Wildcat rusher has not led the nations in yardage since legendary Art Luppino accomplished the feat twice in 1954 and 1955. "The Cactus Comet" dominated the old Border Conference en route to surpassing Alan Ameche as the all-time NCAA rushing leader.
Carey needs five touchdowns to tie Luppino's single season mark at Arizona. He is also one score behind Jefferson for the most of any rusher in college football this season. An effort that gives him both the rushing title and touchdown leads could conceivably be enough to get Carey to Manhattan.
The sophomore from Canyon del Oro High has plenty of ground to make up Friday if he's to reach New York, but what opponent better than arch-rival Arizona State for a Wildcat to put on a show worthy of the Heisman? In one of the most unforgettable installments of the Duel in the Desert, Trung Canidate powered UA to the Holiday Bowl with a then-record 288-yard performance in the Wildcats' 50-42 win.
There's also precedent for a Pac-12 running back's Heisman candidacy getting a final weekend boost. Toby Gerhart's effort against Notre Dame to close out 2009 ended with Stanford fans on the field, chanting "Heisman!" behind the bruising back during his ESPN interview. Desert Swarm never advocates field storming -- particularly after the Oregon debacle that same season -- but it is an interesting tidbit of recent history.