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The Rouge: Will Cornish surpass Kwong's historic numbers?

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Ben Fisher, TSN.ca
10/1/2012 2:49:38 PM
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Jon Cornish is having the best season of any running back in the CFL this year; that much is obvious.

His lead in the rushing title race is more than 200 yards, he leads the league in rushing touchdowns with nine, and he's helped the Calgary Stampeders stay in contention all year long despite the loss of their starting quarterback, Drew Tate, in the second week of the season.

A lot can change during the final five weeks heading into the playoffs, but if Cornish puts up even average numbers over that span, he'll be a lock as a CFL All-Star.

Average numbers will also likely garner the Canadian RB some consideration for the league's Most Outstanding Player award, a race he's currently right in the thick of.

But if Cornish keeps putting up the tremendous numbers that he has for most of this season – and there's no reason to believe he can't – how, then, will we look back at his 2012 performance?

Forget the All-Star nod, and maybe even the MOP consideration, where would Cornish's season rank among the all-time great years by a Canadian RB?

Coming on the heels of yet another great performance – 180 yards and two TDs on 20 carries – now is a good time to ponder the 27-year-old's season to date, and ask where his impact ranks among the all-time great Canadian backs.

Through 13 games Cornish has rushed for 1,127 yards, already the fifth-most yards ever accumulated by a Canadian in a single season. Barring injury, the Stamps back is on pace for a 1,560-yard season, a number that would put him squarely in the Normie Kwong realm, as rarified air as there is for a non-import back.

Kwong, the former Edmonton Eskimos great, is current owner of the top two rushing seasons by a Canadian, amassing 1,437 yards in 1956 and 1,250 in 1955.

In fact, the only four seasons by a Canadian RB better than Cornish's through 13 games all came in a three-year period from 1955-57. In the past 50 years, the closest any Canadian has come to Cornish's totals are Orville Lee (1988) and Jerome Messam (2011) – neither of whom surpassed 1,100 yards.

And while Kwong's record-setting numbers were accomplished in a 16-game season (Cornish's 16-game pace would have him fall just short of Kwong's best season, at 1,387 yards), it's important to note that he did it in an era when the "forward pass" was much less prevalent in CFL offences than it is today.

All that said, The Rouge asks: Can Cornish surpass Kwong's historic single-season numbers, and should his accomplishments this season – and in this era – be considered superior?

As always, it's Your! Call.

Jon Cornish (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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