Why is Suh third if he has the most points?

We seem to be getting deluged with comments from Cornhusker fans telling us that our projection is bunk because our math is off. After all, they say, Ndamukong Suh has the most points - how can he be in third place?!

So, rather than simply saying, "People, read the site!" we'll address it directly.

First, we see this every year. And every year, somebody cries foul. And every year, we've been right. (Last year was especially tough, since I was one of the few projecting a loss by Tim Tebow - even though he would have the most #1 votes.)

Second, if we simply counted up the number of ballots we track down - and then extrapolated a total - that would be a) too easy, and b) wrong. In fact, that's exactly what we did in our very first year. We got lucky, and correctly projected Carson Palmer as the winner, but we had Larry Johnson at #5 - not #3, as he actually ended up.

After that first year, we realized that the projection actually has to be six separate regional projections that are then added up. Why? Because you get lots and lots of public declarations from the regions that have candidates - and relatively few from the regions that don't, even though they all still vote.

This year, for example, so far we've tracked down 44 of the 145 actual ballots in the Southwest region - but only 13 of the 145 in the Northeast region. But since we know that both regions will be roughly equally represented in the final total, we have to adjust the math - so that the Southwest region doesn't appear to be three times the size of the Northeast.

A few of the other questions:

  • "Do these projections assume that the people who have not responded are going to be similar to those that have?" Yes. That's a critical assumption. And so far, it's borne out to be true. We hear from very few former winners - so I've always worried about projecting that group of voters, but they're relatively few compared to the media voters.

  • "What projection will you give voters who voted before Saturdays games?" About 10% of voters voted prior to the final Saturday games. I wish I could account for those voters, but the date of their ballot isn't something we know. Just have to assume that those votes will be equally represented in the known and unknown ballots like all the others. (Of course, if those people all voted Tebow/McCoy, and now they're too embarrassed to publicly declare, well, that could impact that critical assumption above - that known ballots accurately reflect unknown ballots.)

  • "Dude! You're WRONG! Everybody knows MY GUY is the best player in the country! Moron!" I do love those comments. This is just a little reminder that I don't award the H------ Trophy, nor do I have a vote. I'm just a math and politics nerd in Portland, Oregon that has an obsession with college football. (Pro football nerds, check this out.) Rest assured, I think your player is a great guy and deserves the Trophy. (Seriously, spending all this time on it, you can't help but gain a healthy respect for all the leading candidates.)

Kari Chisholm | December 8, 2009 | Comment on This Post (123 so far)
Permalink: Why is Suh third if he has the most points?



kate of spades, I have seen Ingram play 5 times this year. He did well in each game but did not blow my mind. Every time I watched, never understood all the hype.

Professor, your bias is amusing at best, I hope Texas destroys Bama and shuts you up. NU just came within a fraction of a second from beating a team in the NCAA Title Game. Don't see Florida or LSU at that caliber. Bama/Texas will be a close game.

Posted by: Suh All the Way | Dec 9, 2009 5:06:44 PM

In all reality "house of spears", that is what Ndamakong means, will not win the Heisman but he will most likely win everything else. I am glad we do not have to see him next year when we play the huckers. I will give the huckers one cudo, the BLACKSHIRTS appear to be back!!

Posted by: Texas Colt | Dec 9, 2009 5:38:05 PM

Did Mrs. Cody get double and triple teamed all year long? I dout it. And if you watched the Big 12 Championship you would have seen Suh getting held on more than one occasion. Never was called. Been that way all season long. Too bad Nebraska didn't get a chance to play against Alabama before Suh graduated. I would be willing to bet that your heisman trophy candidate would have had a game like Colt or the one where the wimp couldn't play against Auburn. Don't go knocking Nebraska's players unless you know all the facts.

Posted by: Craig | Dec 9, 2009 6:50:44 PM

It's too bad our offense kept screwing us over. We might have had that chance to play Alabama. All Heisman chatter aside, that would have been a great game to watch! All questions about the two Heisman finalists would be answered after that game. On the contrary, Alabama did have that opportunity (playing Florida), so many votes are probably directed toward Ingram after that game... for good reason. Without playing another Heisman finalist, it's difficult to have any comparison.

Posted by: Suh-nami | Dec 9, 2009 7:06:36 PM

Will Suh win the trophy? Nope. Should he? Probably.

All I know is that both Cody and Suh were double and/or triple teamed on pretty much every play all year and Suh had 80+ tackles while Cody had 25 or so. They both play across from the center and guard, so I don't know why someone keeps talking about Cody and how he plays "nose tackle" in the 3-4 as if that's a huge difference from "defensive tackle" in the 4-3. Both line up on either a guard or center depending on the shift for the play.

Let's put it out here like this: everyone pretty much agrees that the best DTs in the country are Suh, Cody, and McCoy. Cody and McCoy each had 30 or less tackles. Suh had more than 80. For an interior lineman, that is ridiculous. Cody and McCoy combined for 5 total sacks, Suh had 12. Suh had three blocked kicks, and interception, and a forced fumble.

Did Ingram double the production of Gerhart?

Did Gerhart have double the production of his two closest RB competitors?

Did McCoy have his nerve shattered by the Nebraska defense?

Face it - statistically (which is all we have to go on), Suh is, by far, the most outstanding player at his position in the country. He has more double the production of his closest talented peers, and triple the production of the third place guy. If you have watched him play for the last two seasons, you have seen something incredible - a guy who makes you shake your head in wonder at least once a drive with how incredibly talented he is.

I've seen Gerhart play. I've seen Ingram play. They don't stand out like Suh. Isn't this award for the most outstanding player, not "the RB or QB who had the best season in a mediocre offensive year award?"

Posted by: SacramentoHusker | Dec 9, 2009 7:27:57 PM

The Heisman trophy is supposed to go the best college football player of the year. If the award were to go to the greatest college football player in a career, Tebow should win (maybe the greatest ever over Tommy Frazier of Nebraska...yes I'm a Nebraska fan, so you all can say I'm prejudiced.) If the award should go to the best running back in a year, it should go to Gerhart. (sorry, Ingraham had lots more help from an outstanding offensive line, and did not put up the numbers that Gerhart did.) If the award is to go to the best offensive player of the year, it should go to McCoy. (He had an awesome year, until he met Mr. Suh)....but the award is supposed to go to the best FOOTBALL PLAYER of the year. Everyone out there...look at all the numbers. Then compare them to all the numbers of players in years gone by. Neither Ingraham nor Gerhart has the numbers of most running back award winners. The same can be said of Tebow and McCoy. But...has any single FOOTBALL PLAYER ever been so dominant in recent years, regardless of the team he plays on, as Suh? He plays at DEFENSEIVE TACKLE AND LEADS HIS TEAM IN TACKLESs...say what? Linebackers are supposed to do that. He is second on the team in passes defended. Say what? That's supposed to be corners or safeties. He manhandled double-teams from some of the best offensive linemen in the nation (Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas State, Virginia Tech.) And, of course, he will be the number one pick in NFL draft. Why? You know the answer to that question, don't you?

Posted by: dadoffive93 | Dec 9, 2009 10:22:42 PM

As a former high school football coach I can tell you that a defense will rarely scheme around a running back. You may pull a safety up if an RB is evasive or cheat your backers to the outside if he is quick, but for the most part a defense adjusts to offensive BLOCKING SCHEMES in the running game, not the actual runner. Conversely, offenses constantly scheme to stay away from playmakers on opposing defenses. Many times a corner will eliminate certain passing options or an end will take away most outside runs to a particular side. A dominate tackle of Suh's caliber eliminates a massive portion of any playbook. Few teams even attempted to continuously run between the tackles against Nebraska and teams that are accustomed to big plays from star receivers (Texas, Kansas, Missouri) found that there wasn't enough time for the receiver to run his route - because Suh had already introduced himself to the QB.

For those Husker Haters out there, the blackshirts had top 15 stats in every major defensive category - this is no one man show. Those stats came against teams who regularly ran 60 plus plays on us due to our offense. NO TEAM in the top 25 has defended anywhere near as many plays/drives as NU, yet our stats compete and often defeat others.

Posted by: Big Red Schmidt | Dec 9, 2009 11:50:58 PM

I am from NC and a very big SEC guy. Mark Ingram and Toby Gerhart are great players who had great seasons, but there is no doubt that Suh was the most dominate player among these canidates. He should win this award easily but unfortunately most of the voters are morons. Ingram will win based solely on the fact that he plays for an SEC undefeated #1 team in the country. It's a joke!!

No disrespect to Ingram, he is a huge talent.

Posted by: triadncman | Dec 10, 2009 6:35:56 AM

Once again my comment is aimed at true eyes. Who cares about a "Heisman-worthy" schedule. You don't see Gerhart or McCoy with a truly amazing schedule. You're just hating on Ndamukong because you just keep hopping on the bandwagon of the leading candidate. I would like to see Mark Ingram play the Huskers,l and watch Ndamukong Suh stop him on every play. If you think that Suh doesn't deserve the Heisman just based on a schedule. Mark Ingram isn't even the best player on offense. He doesn't get the ball every play. But, Ndamukong puts the Huskers on his back for every game, and he never has a bad game. Nobody but the BCS formula cares about schedule.

Posted by: Rockerking9 | Dec 10, 2009 5:27:13 PM

Nebraska fans are passionate, have to give them that. Suh is a great player too, but don't think that by comparing "production" stats with Alabama's Cody you make a strong case that Suh is better. No team has been willing to run between the tackles against Alabama all season because they know they'll get stuffed. Florida only rushed the ball 4 times (other than Tebow scrambles after he was hurried in the pocket) against Bama in the SECCG. Bama has not allowed an opposing back to rush for 100+ yards since Cody arrived on campus 2 years ago. Also, Cody has played offense on many goal line situations, throwing quite a few devastating blocks. Plus he blocked a last second field goal to secure a Bama win against an arch rival. Where was Suh on the last play against Texas, huh?

Posted by: wcfan | Dec 10, 2009 8:21:29 PM

Suh had 12 sacks for the year. 4 1/2 of them came in the Big 12 title game alone. That means he had 7 1/2 in the other 12 games total. Those are NOT Heisman numbers. He wrecked McCoys chances, so the national media that can't remember anything other than what it saw last placed him there.

Ingram not only had less carries than Gerhart, but more yards per carry. If Ingram had Gerharts carries, and you project them with his avg yard per carry, his numbers would crush Gerhart's. Also, Ingram did his damage in the biggest games of the season all year long, in the best defensive conference in the nation! If that still isn't enough, he accounted for 189 all purpose yards and 3 TDs against the nations #1 defense in a game that earns a trip to Pasadena!!! Ingram did it in big games all year, Suh did it in the last big game. Ingram did it in the best defensive conference and a non-conference coming-out party against Virginia Tech. Gerhart did his against the weak defenses of the Pac-10 and Notre Dame. Come on. ingram deserves it, not Suh or Gerhart.

Posted by: Bama wins 13th title | Dec 10, 2009 8:49:27 PM

Here is why a vote for Mark Ingram may be the right vote: http://blog.al.com/tidecorner/2009/12/behind_enemy_lines_why_mark_in_1.html

Posted by: Philip | Dec 10, 2009 9:11:31 PM

I want Suh to win but don't think he will because of the political nature of the Heisman voting. I will admit Suh probably isn't the best defensive player of all-time but at least compare him to the greatest DTs of all-time. Defenses are designed to get stats for LBs and DEs not DTs. Nebraska's defense is designed for Suh to take on two guys on every play to free up his teammates to make tackles. So if you compare the numbers of the greatest college DT's (Rich Glover '72, Tony Casillas '85, Steve Emtman '91, Warren Sapp '94, Tommie Harris '03, and Glenn Dorsey '07) I am willing to bet Suh stacks up to the greatest that ever played the position. I have tried to look up these stats and only been able to find Glenn Dorsey's.

Dorsey - 69tkl - 12.5tfl - 7sk - 4qbh - 4pbu - 0int - 1 ff - 0bk (14 games)
Suh - 82tkl - 23tfl - 12sk - 24qbh - 10pbu - 1int - 1ff - 3bk (13 games)

Ingram and Gerhart didn't come close to having one of the greatest seasons ever by a RB. When you compare all these players to the greatest ever at their positions you see that Suh is the only one who comes close. Compare apples to apples if you want to talk stats!!! If anyone else is able to help me get these stats please post them so we can see how he ranks

Posted by: jack | Dec 11, 2009 7:40:57 AM

Hey Bama wins 13th title,
You think that the SEC has GREAT run defenses?

I checked the NCAA team run defense statistics, and here are the 6th best rushing defenses that Stanford and Toby faced.: Arizona State (18), Arizona (22), Oregon State (25), California (27), Oregon (38), and USC (42). There are 120 BCS schools. So, Toby played against teams ranked approximately in the top third of rushing defenses for half of his games.

I started checking on the rushing defenses that Ingram/Alabama faced for 13 games: In order of best rushing defense, Florida (13), LSU (44), South Carolina (46), Virginia Tech (52), Mississippi (55), Tennessee (58), Miss. State (63), Arkansas (69), Auburn (80), Kentucky (100), North Texas (104), Florida International (116), and Tennessee-Chattanooga are Div I-AA.

So, Toby Gerhart rushed against 6 teams that were rated 42nd or better in rushing defense while Ingram rushed against just 1 team rated in the top 42.

I don't think you can come close to implying that Toby Gerhart didn't compete against teams with good enough run defenses, PARTICULARLY if you want to compare Toby and Stanford against the teams that Mark Ingram faced all season long.

Posted by: jack | Dec 11, 2009 7:50:00 AM

Ok, let me clarify the differences between the top 3 candidates.

For the record, I am a diehard BAMA fan who just happens to live in Cali and work in Gerheart's hometown of Norco, CA. Funny huh, I know. Anyways here goes.

A beast. What he has done as a DT is simply amazing. 82 Tackles....WOW. Of the 12 1/2 sacks, 4 came in the B12 Championship game. AND?????? All that means is on his team's biggest stage, against the presumed Heisman front runner, he came ready to play. Does Suh deserve to be in NY? Heck Yeah!!!! I believe that he has a legitimate shot to win it to.

Now for those that were comparing him to Mt. Cody, you can't. Both guys filled the role that their team needed to perfection. NU needed Suh to be the catalyst on D, and he was. Cody's job was not to make plays, but to occupy space. Because of him, Bama was able to dominate the LOS on the run. Because he had to deal with doubles and triple teams from the NT spot, he freed up the LBs as well as the CBs on the CB blitz. Just my opinion.


beast of an RB. He is the reason that Stanford won 8 games. Can't argue with a kid that runs 311 times for 1700+ yrds, 3 200+ yd games, and 26 yds rushing. I will come back to him after talking about Ingram.

Amazing. If you want check out a good article about him, check out Philips post and the article

Ingram accounted for approximately 20 total yds less than Gerheart in total yards from scrimmage. Both had 1800+ total hards. He was at his best in the biggest games. Granted there were 5 games that his output lacked, but as mentioned before 2 were blow outs where he was pulled, 1 he had the flu, and 2 the defenses(AUB and TENN) stacked 8 in the box and forced BAMA to make plays with the QB. The article posted above completely breaks down the Gerheart/Ingram debate, so enough said.

IMHO, the 2009 Heisman comes down to two people SUH and INGRAM. Just remember, the award goes to the "MOST OUTSTANDING" player, which both are. I would not be upset if Suh won it. Just remember, although all 3 of these young men carried their teams, only one carried their's to the title game. Games 5-10 for Bama (during the QB slump) is the most important for Ingram, that and the 1000 yds gained after contact. For those that say that D carried Bama....McClain's def is good, however it was Ingram that allowed Bama to control the clock 33+ mins in time of possession. Any good defense will be great if they only had to play less than half of a game.

Posted by: wgb3 | Dec 11, 2009 7:51:37 AM

To whoever commented about Suh and Cody saying ask Va Tech about Cody.

Being how Va Tech put 24 on Bama and only 16 on NU. I would think that question should be reversed.

Posted by: Edward Collins | Dec 11, 2009 8:35:07 AM

So if im hearing this right suh had 19 tackel and 12.5 sacks he should win the Heisman if so you crazy or if that is the case derrick thomas should have won it in 88 100 plus tackels and let me see 27 sacks in one season in wich suh doesnt eaven have in his whole carear . He is good but not that great bring him to the sec and we will see

Posted by: shane | Dec 11, 2009 4:56:52 PM

i am sorry he had 82 tackles

Posted by: shane | Dec 11, 2009 5:04:06 PM

Good point about the rush defences but all the teams gerhart faced didnt finish up with those rankings sorry to tell you but when ingram faced (vt) they was in the top 10 (fl) was #1 (ole miss) was #35 (lsu) was 18 (tnn) was # 40 oh yeah and (au) was in the top 20 untill we face them but i cant say the asme for the opp gerhart facedyou know the pac 10 lol

Posted by: shane | Dec 11, 2009 5:16:20 PM

Love your site, hope your wrong. SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!! A MAN among boys. Deserves it flat out.

Posted by: sbd | Dec 11, 2009 11:57:40 PM


Posted by: EMC | Dec 12, 2009 9:45:25 AM

You are an idiot, those are the final rush defense rankings of the season. What do you mean those teams didn't finish up with those rankings?

Posted by: jack | Dec 16, 2009 8:00:24 AM

Shane, also remember that Derrick Thomas played OLB/DE. Defenses are designed to get stats for LBs not DTs. Suh dominated from a position designed to get 30 tackles a year. Compare apples to apples, and read my post from 12-11 7:40am.

Posted by: jack | Dec 16, 2009 8:04:44 AM

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