Benson Snubbed For Heisman Ceremony

Texas RB Cedric Benson, whose 5,470 career rushing yards is the sixth highest total in college football history, did not make the list of five Heisman Trophy finalists, it was announced Wednesday.

Instead, 2003 Heisman winner Oklahoma QB Jason White, Oklahoma RB Adrian Peterson, USC QB Matt Leinart, USC all-purpose back Reggie Bush and Utah QB Alex Smith will make the trip to New York for the award presentation Saturday. Benson may have to settle for the Doak Walker Award, presented Thursday to the nation's top RB.

With an average game against Michigan in the Rose Bowl, Benson will finish his career as the nation's No. 5 all-time leading rusher. His 160.4 ypg led the Big 12 and was third nationally at the end of the regular season. Benson's 1,764 yards rushing in 2004 was the third highest total in Longhorn history. His 64 career rushing TDs is No. 3 all-time in college football. Benson has scored at least one touchdown in an NCAA record 37 games.

Guys that post the kind of numbers that Benson has usually don't win a Heisman; they win two (see Ohio State's Archie Griffin). Had Texas knocked off Oklahoma last October, the Heisman race would be a three-horse, down-to-the-wire sprint between Benson, White and Leinart. Heisman candidates either become front-runners or also-rans on the type of national stage that is the Cotton Bowl the second Saturday of October. During the 12-0 Longhorn loss, Benson failed to top the century mark for the first time since, well, last year's loss to the Sooners. In the eyes of Heisman voters, everything he did the rest of the season apparently paled with respect to that one game.

We all understand that the Heisman is not a lifetime achievement award, but Benson deserved to be a finalist. So do the players from USC and OU. With or without a Heisman, most NFL pundits predict Benson will be the first running back selected in next April's draft. Six months from now, Benson will have more money than the combined salaries of half the experts who didn't vote for him.

Benson posted a career-best five rushing touchdowns in Texas' historic 56-35 comeback win against Oklahoma State last month. His 283 yards in Texas' 46-15 win at Texas A&M in 2003 was not only a single-game personal best but also the most by any opposing running back in the history of Texas A&M, passing Ricky Williams’ 259-yard performance in 1998. Benson also had four touchdowns in the game including two scoring runs of more than 20 yards.

A pre-Rose Bowl prediction: Benson will not complain about the Heisman snub but will explode against Michigan on January 1 as his final statement.

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