Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Ohio State running back Chris "Beanie" Wells still thinks he has a shot at the Heisman Trophy despite missing three games with a toe injury. For an award that demands Herculean performances every Saturday, any missed time, much less one-fourth of the regular season, would normally eliminate any contender from the race. Then again, a bad game can hurt a candidate more than one in which he doesn't play at all.
To see if there is any history of hobbled Heisman winners, I consulted Chris Huston, who runs the fabulous Heisman Pundit Web site and knows more about the award than I ever will. Huston came up with some modern-era Heisman winners who missed time during their historic seasons.
In 1979, USC running back Charles White missed a game and a half early in the year. White finished the season with 332 carries for 2,050 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns.
In 1982, Georgia running back Herschel Walker missed a game. He had 335 carries for 1,752 yards and 16 touchdowns.
In 1985, Auburn running back Bo Jackson missed parts of two games with thigh and knee injuries, and Auburn lost both times. Jackson still finished with 1,786 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns.
Wells has 217 yards and one touchdown in two games this year. His touchdowns total undoubtedly will increase, but at this pace, he would finish the regular season with 977 yards, nowhere near enough. Several showcase games (Wisconsin, Penn State, Michigan) should help the big-game back, but Wells likely needs a 300-yard performance or two, and I doubt Ohio State would push him too far after the toe injury. Three missed games appears to be too much to overcome.
Heisman Pundit's 10 Heismandments doesn't list a minimum number of games for a candidate to remain viable, but Wells is unlikely to reach the statistical benchmarks set for a running back to win the award.
If you are a running back, you need to gain at least 2,000 yards if you are NOT on a traditional power or a national championship contender. This is a number that is slowly rising as more backs hit that mark. If you are on a traditional power or national title contender, you must gain at least 1,700 yards. In either case, you also must score at least 17 touchdowns.