After his career day against TCU, has Bijan Robinson officially entered the Heisman race?
FORT WORTH — Later this season, Texas will leave the state to play games in Iowa and West Virginia.
Former UT quarterback Sam Ehlinger thinks that Longhorns running back Bijan Robinson also will need to book a trip to New York, where the Heisman Trophy ceremony will be held. Ehlinger thinks Bijan Robinson should contend for this year's award.
After Robinson ran over Texas Tech on Sept. 25, Ehlinger tweeted that “Bijan Robinson should be in the Heisman conversation.” One week later, Robinson led Texas to a 32-27 win at TCU and Ehlinger said he may “have to retweet (his tweet) every week.”
Robinson, who rushed for 216 yards and two touchdowns against TCU, has 652 yards for the season, second nationally behind Michigan's Kenneth Walker III, who has 680. Robinson is leading the Big 12 by 101 yards.
"Best running back in the country," Texas linebacker DeMarvion Overshown said.
If Robinson's Heisman campaign didn't officially kick off on Ehlinger's Twitter timeline, then it did at Amon G. Carter Stadium on Saturday.
The game was Robinson's best as a Longhorn. A sophomore who was the nation's top-rated back when he signed in 2020, his previous career high was 183 yards that he recorded in last year's Alamo Bowl. Saturday was his first 20-carry game (he had 35).
Robinson said that the takedown of TCU was "a game that I needed." Over the course of his those 35 carries, he said he was able to adjust to different looks, angles and holes that were created by an offensive line that was reshuffled after Denzel Okafor suffered a lower leg injury in the first quarter.
"It was just seeing the kind of grit that I need to put on for the team and what I need to do going forward," Robinson said.
A signature moment for Robinson sealed the victory for Texas (4-1, 2-0 Big 12). With 2:53 remaining, UT faced a third-and-6 near midfield. TCU had just used its final timeout, so a first down would all but allow the Longhorns to run out the clock.
Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said "a couple thoughts crossed my mind" during the timeout, but he called for Robinson's 34th carry of the day. Robinson took the handoff, cut to his left and broke two tackles near the line of scrimmage. (Pro Football Focus credited Robinson with forcing 15 missed TCU tackles on Saturday). With a TCU defender clinging to his leg, he then plowed into another Horned Frog. And with two of his own linemen assisting him with a shove from behind, Robinson finally fell forward for a six-yard gain to the TCU 48.
First down, Texas. Game, Texas.
"At the core of who we are is we run the ball," Sarkisian said. "I've said that since day one when I took the job. We are a run-first football team. Everything we do comes off of that."
With less than 10 minutes left, Robinson was stuffed on a fourth-and-goal attempt at the 1. But he ended up having more luck on two of his other 11 carries in the final frame.
The nine yards he picked up on a third-and-9 attempt set up Jordan Whittington's 32-yard touchdown catch, which gave UT a 32-20 lead. He then salted the game on that third-and-6 run.
"Any failed attempt on third down is pretty demoralizing," said TCU defensive lineman Dylan Horton, whose defense had allowed two 100-yard rushers in the previous week's loss to SMU.
"It's fun to break a defense's will," Robinson said. "It shows what kind of effort that we put in during the week. When you know that the defense is broken, that's when everything starts to flow and open up."
The DraftKings and FanDuel sportsbooks both are listing Alabama quarterback Bryce Young and Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral as the Heisman favorites. Robinson boasts the eighth-best odds on DraftKings. He's listed sixth on FanDuel.
Since 2010, one running back — Alabama's Derrick Henry in 2015 — has won the Heisman. At Texas, though, the only ties to the Heisman are through running backs Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams. Texas also has won four Doak Walker Awards. That trails only Wisconsin, which has won five.
After his career day, Robinson was asked how he would have fared if he had played when Campbell and Williams were starring at Texas. Campbell won his Heisman in 1977. Williams won in 1998.
"We would never know," Robinson said. "I would hope I would do good in their era. They accomplished many awesome things for themselves and their teams. If I did play in that era, I would just adjust to that era and try to do the same thing I'm trying to do now."