10/24/2012 06:14 EDT | Updated 12/24/2012 05:12 EST

Stampeders running back Cornish making strong push for CFL's top award

He's the leading candidate for the CFL's outstanding Canadian award, but Jon Cornish is making a very strong case for the league's top individual honour.

The Calgary Stampeders running back has owned the CFL's Canadian player of the week honour, taking the nod again Tuesday for the seventh time this season.

The native of New Westminster, B.C., scored two touchdowns and registered seven catches for a career-high 108 yards in a snowy 34-32 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last weekend. He also had 27 yards rushing on 13 carries.

On Wednesday, the CFL amended Cornish's receiving stats to six receptions for 100 yards, saying he was credited with an eight-yard catch that should have gone to teammate Nik Lewis. Regardless, the six-foot, 227-pound Cornish has been a dominant offensive force this season.

He leads the CFL in rushing with 1,302 yards and is averaging a solid 5.7 yards per carry. He holds a 145-yard advantage over Saskatchewan's Kory Sheets and has also run for a league-high 11 TDs.

The 27-year-old Cornish is also threatening to register the most rushing yards in a season by a Canadian-born player. Norm Kwong currently holds the mark of 1,437 yards, recorded with Edmonton in 1956.

Cornish is averaging 81 yards rushing per game and at his current pace would finish the season with 1,465 yards. Mike Pringle holds the CFL's single-season rushing record of 2,065 yards set in 1998 with Montreal while Willie Burden has the Stampeders' club record of 1,896 yards established in '75.

If Cornish finishes atop the CFL's rushing standings, he'd be the first Canadian to do so since '88 when Orville Lee accomplished the feat, running for 1,075 yards with the Ottawa Rough Riders.

It's also worth noting Cornish has amassed more yards on the ground than the CFL's top receiver has in the air. Through 16 games, Saskatchewan's Weston Dressler has registered 92 catches for 1,189 yards and 12 TDs.

And that's remarkable considering the CFL is predominantly a passing league.

Cornish also made headlines last month when he was fined by the CFL for mooning Saskatchewan Roughriders fans at Mosaic Stadium in Regina.

He had a rare off-game earlier this season in a 34-8 loss to the B.C. Lions, running for -1 yards on six carries. The following week, Cornish busted out for 170 yards rushing and a TD on 20 carries in a 31-20 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

However, history isn't on Cornish's side.

Quarterbacks have won the CFL's outstanding player award in each of the last five years and 23 times since 1980. Running backs have won it four times over that span — including twice by Pringle — with Pringle being the last tailback to receive the trophy in '98.

Receivers have claimed the honour the other five times.

And it's been a while since a Canadian was named the CFL's top player, with Ottawa tight end Tony Gabriel being the last to do so in 1978.

B.C. Lions quarterback Travis Lulay won the award last year and is again having a solid season, completing 66.6 per cent of his passes and throwing TD strikes in 26 straight games. But Lulay didn't play in last week's 39-19 win over Edmonton due to a shoulder injury and is expected to miss Friday night's game in Calgary.

That means Lulay won't make up any ground on Hamilton's Henry Burris or Montreal's Anthony Calvillo, the CFL's top two passers this season.

Calvillo is a three-time winner of the award and has thrown for a league-leading 4,761 yards and is second in TD passes with 29 in helping lead Montreal atop the East Division standings. But Calvillo's 60 per cent completion average is his lowest since posting a 60.4 per cent mark in 2003.

Burris, the CFL's 2010 outstanding player, has thrown for 4,699 yards and a league-high 37 touchdowns. However, Hamilton has a dismal 5-11 record and is in danger of missing the playoffs.

But with Cornish anchoring a rushing attack that's averaging 115 yards per game — second only to B.C. (130.8) — the Stampeders (10-6) have cemented second place in the West Division and a home playoff game Nov. 11 despite playing most of the season without starting quarterback Drew Tate.

Cornish has drawn numerous comparisons to B.C. tailback Andrew Harris, who is third overall in rushing with 1,025 yards.

Harris, a Winnipeg native, is not only the leading receiver among CFL running backs but also tops the Lions in that category with 71 catches for 702 yards.

By comparison, Cornish is fifth in receiving among CFL running backs with 36 catches for 324 yards. That has prompted suggestions the former Kansas State star was just a running threat, a criticism he effectively squashed last weekend in snowy conditions against Hamilton.

There are some other contenders for the outstanding player award with two weeks left in the regular season.

Hamilton receiver Chris Williams — the CFL's top rookie last season — leads the league in TDs (14), return touchdowns (record six), and punt returns (983 yards, five TDs, 15.6-yard average). He is also fourth overall in receiving with 75 catches for 1,150 yards and eight TDs.

Dressler is also in the mix. In addition to leading the CFL in receiving, the speedy slotback/kick returner brought back a punt 66 yards for a TD in a 34-28 loss to Montreal.

Another contender is Toronto's Chad Owens, who is second overall in receiving with 86 catches for 1,185 yards and five TDs. He also needs just 284 yards to break Mike (Pinball) Clemons CFL record of 3,840 all-purpose yards.

Earlier this season Owens became the first player in pro football history to surpass 3,000 all-purpose yards in three straight seasons and is close to becoming the first player ever to surpass 4,000 all-purpose yards in a season.

However, his production dipped noticeably during starter Ricky Ray's recent three-game absence and he has had a number of untimely fumbles this year.