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1. Robert Griffin III, Junior, Baylor Quarterback
Sure, he doesn't play on the best team, but Griffin has been the best player in the country this year, and if I were an NFL scout, I'd take a chance on him for the next level as well. Baylor finished the regular season 8-3, and when I review their season on paper, I can't help but think the Bears would have lost three or four more games without him. You can't play his position much better than a 73% completion rate, 34 touchdown passes, five interceptions, and seven touchdowns with his feet. I doubt Griffin will win the Heisman trophy, but he is the most worthy in my opinion. Will he come back for his senior season?
2. Andrew Luck, Senior, Stanford Quarterback
Luck did exactly what he needed to do against Notre Dame, finishing the regular season in style and daring Heisman voters to choose someone other than him. He completed 20 of 30 passes against a decent Irish defense, good for four touchdown passes, three of them before halftime. Having finished second in the Pac-12 to Oregon, Luck and the Cardinal hope to earn an at-large BCS bid.
3. Trent Richardson, Junior, Alabama Running Back
Richardson didn't exactly sell me as a candidate until his 203-yard performance against Auburn. He finished the regular season with 1,583 yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground. Chances are, his Crimson Tide will be offered a rematch with LSU for the national title. You can bet Richardson will be ready to go.
4. Case Keenum, Senior, Houston Quarterback
I thought Tulsa would give Keenum's Cougars a scare last weekend. Not so much. I don't think Southern Missouri will do it this weekend either. Keenum is the only player on my list who plays another game before the award is given. And he already boasts a 43:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio! Those who think Keenum's stellar numbers could be replicated by any yahoo in the Houston system do well to check out the Cougars' success (or lack of it) when Keenum missed most of the 2010 season. (They finished 5-7). What a difference one player makes, apparently.
5. Kellen Moore, Senior, Boise State Quarterback
I like this guy's body of work way too much to drop him out of my top five. His team will likely get squeezed out of the BCS due to an untimely loss and a weak schedule, but that doesn't mean he hasn't put up Heisman numbers for really the third year in a row. Against Wyoming, in Moore's last regular season game, he completed 24 of 36 passes, good for three touchdowns. Next year, the Broncos will dearly miss his steadiness.
If you look closely at this tracker, the last four headlining players have lost that week. Could be bad news for Baylor this weekend against Texas Tech.
1.Robert Griffin III, Baylor QB
If there's a better player in the nation than Griffin, I don't know who it is. He's got elite-sprinter speed, completes 73% of his passes against pretty good competition, and who can argue with his 33:5 touchdown to interception ratio? Last weekend, he cemented his candidacy for any doubters out there by tossing a 34-yard touchdown pass with eight seconds to play to beat Oklahoma.
2. Case Keenum, Houston QB
Yes, I know that Houston doesn't play anybody. But that's not Keenum's fault; I'm pretty sure he's not the one making drawing up contracts for the Cougar schedule. Houston does have a little bit of a test this weekend at an 8-3 Tulsa team. Keenum will look to improve his already-sick statistics: 73% completion, 38 touchdowns, 3 interceptions.
3. Andrew Luck, Stanford QB
In Indianapolis, a bumper sticker has recently popped up: "Suck for Luck." The Colts are not the only one that want the Stanford quarterback. His work last weekend in a win over Cal was adequate but not overwhelming, completing 20 of 30 passes for 257 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Luck certainly has a great opportunity this weekend, as his Stanford hosts Notre Dame in a prime time match-up.
4.Trent Richardson, Alabama QB
Richardson's recent numbers do not overwhelm me, and neither does his #2 Crimson Tide squad. But what Richardson does do is score touchdowns. He's averaging almost two of them a game. He'll need some Heisman moments this weekend against Auburn to really prove his worthiness.
5. Kellen Moore, Boise State QB
Moore has played his senior year the way he's been his whole career for the Broncos: smooth and steady. Last weekend in a good win over San Diego State, Moore completed 28 of 40 passes for 366 yards and four touchdowns. Boise State has two games remaining, starting with a decent Wyoming team this weekend.
1. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State quarterback
Let's play a game. Which offense would like to face the least? Oregon? Houston? Boise State? How about a Weeden-led Oklahoma State team? An offense that averages 52 points a game is a big reason why the Cowboys currently sit at #2 in the BCS standings. Last week against Texas Tech, all Weeden did was complete 31 of 37 passes for 423 yards, five touchdowns, and no interceptions. Weeden and the Cowboys travel to Iowa State this weekend, which should be a warm-up for the following week's clash with Oklahoma.
2. LaMichael James, Oregon running back
I don't care if James missed a couple games this year. He's already rushed for 1207 yards and 12 touchdowns. Sorry Trent Richardson and David Wilson, but James is the best running back in the country. (Or at least the most opportunistic.) His numbers against Stanford? How about 20 carries for 146 yards and 3 touchdowns. Decent day at the office. He'll need to do it again this weekend against USC to merit serious consideration for the trophy.
3. Case Keenum, Houston quarterback
If this race was won purely based on statistics, Keenum would be our winner. He's completing 74% of his passes and boasts a touchdown passes-to-interception ratio of 37:3. (Maybe he'd be a good fit in the arena league?) However, I don't have much of an answer for the biggest knock on him: Houston's schedule. The best teams they play are UCLA and Tulsa, neither of which are ranked.
4. Andrew Luck, Stanford quarterback
When Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin's and Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson's teams lost, they plummeted in the Heisman race. When Luck's team lost, he...oh wait, he's still on top of ESPN's list. Clearly, there's a lot of man crushes going on here. Heisman winners and lottery picks are not necessarily synonymous. (Just ask Charlie Word or Eric Crouch.) This is not to suggest Luck played terribly against Oregon, but his two picks were definitely costly. Luck's Cardinals look to get back on track when they host Cal this weekend.
5. Kellen Moore, Boise State quarterback
Three losses in four seasons does not eliminate someone from my list. Moore was brilliant against TCU last weekend--28 of 38 passing for 320 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions--even in a losing effort, just like he's been brilliant in every other game this year. He's a machine. If anything, he deserves to be higher on the list.
Honorable Mentions: Trent Richardson (Alabama running back), Robert Griffin III (Baylor quarterback), Russell Wilson (Wisconsin quarterback), David Wilson (Virginia Tech running back), Landry Jones (Oklahoma quarterback)
Another week into the college football season means that we're closer to knowing more about the Heisman Trophy race than ever before. Andrew Luck is in the lead in our rankings, but Kellen Moore is close and actually deserves the award (in our opinion). Check out reasons below for these players and others competing to be the best player in college football.
1. Andrew Luck (Stanford quarterback)
NFL teams consider to drool over the lottery pick that leads the third-highest scoring offense in the country. Can anyone honestly say they thought Stanford would be this good even after their confident head coach, Jim Harbaugh, left for the NFL? Luck sure has eased the transition for the coaching staff. Most recently, Luck completed 20 of 30 passes, good for 3 touchdowns, in a win over Oregon State.
2. Kellen Moore (Boise State quarterback)
It has been my mantra all season that Moore is deserving of this award even if he's not every seriously considered. But suddenly, after Richardson and Alabama fell against LSU, I can't see how Moore would be anywhere on this list but second. ESPN agrees. If Luck and the Cardinals stumble down the stretch against Oregon and/or Notre Dame, and Moore and company wins out, does he win the Heisman by default? We'll have to wait and see, but the Broncos have their biggest challenge in a while Saturday against TCU.
3. Case Keenum (Houston quarterback)
If not the Heisman, at least comeback player of the year. Keenum's stats suggest that things are a little too easy for him. And perhaps, playing Houston's schedule, they are. He followed up a nine-touchdown performance against Rice by completing 39 of 44 passes for 407 yards and two touchdowns against UAB. I smell more stat-padding ahead, but will it be enough to earn an invitation to New York.
4. Trent Richardson (Alabama running back)
It wasn't an amazing effort, but it also wasn't terrible. Rushing for 89 yards on 23 carries against LSU is a pretty good day at the office by most counts. But the "L" that appeared next to Alabama's name is what Richardson will have to overcome, fairly or unfairly. Richardson will have to really dazzle the voters in the Crimson Tide's final three games to have any chance at the trophy.
5. LaMichael James (Oregon running back)
Another running back has creeped into the quarterback-dominated race. James' two missed games this season makes him a tough sell, but a win this weekend against Stanford could change all that. He's certainly one of the big reasons why Oregon is 8-1 and #7 in the BCS. Who else this year has rushed for over 200 yards three games in a row? James also averages eight yards a carry, has a 90-yard run, and has scored 10 touchdowns on the season. I can't wait to see what he and the Ducks do against Stanford this weekend.
1. Andrew Luck
It's interesting how much the outcomes of games get credited to players who may or may not be responsible for them. Last week's Stanford-USC game is a prime example. If the controversial 56-48 Stanford overtime win had ended differently with USC on top, would we be talking about Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck dropping in the Heisman race and USC quarterback Matt Barkley rising? Their stats are amazingly comparable. Luck's spreadsheet includes 2218 yards passing, 72% completion rate, 23 touchdown passes, 4 interceptions, 2 rushing touchdowns. Barkley's? How about 2290 yards passing, 67% completion, 22 touchdown passes, 5 interceptions, 1 rushing touchdown. The main difference between the two? Luck's team is 8-0; Barkley's team is 6-2. Thus, Luck leads the Heisman race.
The Alabama running back, along with his team, rested last weekend, but has been licking his chops all season for this weekend's hosting of the #1-ranked team (according to all major polls)in the land, LSU. Might an Alabama win and a headlining performance by Richardson not only propel the Crimson Tide to the #1 ranking but also Richardson to front runner status for the Heisman? It's possible, although Luck's Stanford would probably need to lose to Oregon or Notre Dame in order for Richardson to seal the trophy. Richardson will be seeking his seventh 100-yard rushing effort of the season against the Tigers. Interestingly, his worst performance of the year (37 yards rushing, 2.8 ypc) was against a lowly Kent State team.
3. Kellen Moore
I'm sick of saying it, really. Boise State's veteran quarterback sits essentially where he started the year in the Heisman race and probably where he'll finish it. Pack your best suit for New York, but no need for excessive luggage because you won't be coming back with any hardware. There is virtually nothing Moore can do to win the Heisman, the same as his Broncos, which cannot impress voters enough to play for the BCS Championship, even if they win out and the teams ahead of them lose. Nevertheless, the system won't be changing any time soon. Moore's 180.7 quarterbacking rating will be on the line as Boise State takes on a weak UNLV team this weekend. If we're lucky, Boise State will be playing in a major conference soon. (Just in time for Moore to graduate. What a shame.)
4. Landry Jones
Just when you start to think Jones and his Sooners weren't as good as we thought, they destroy a previously-unbeaten team, Kansas State, 58-17. All the Oklahoma quarterback did in that game was complete 35 of 47 passes for 5 touchdowns. Just another day at the office. Jones will need to go the rest of the way without any major letdowns and a win against Oklahoma State in order to receive major consideration for this award.
5. Case Keenum
Remember a couple years ago when we heard so much about this quarterback from Houston? Well, after sitting out most of last season with an injury, he and the Cougars have charged back into the Headlines. Why? For starters, Houston is undefeated and the 13th best team in the nation, according to the BCS standings. It also didn't hurt that Keenum tossed an FBS-record 9 touchdown passes last week against Rice. This week, Keenum and the Cougars take on a terrible UAB team.
Honorable Mentions: Tajh Boyd (Clemson quarterback), Russell Wilson (Wisconsin quarterback), Brandon Weeden (Oklahoma State quarterback), Robert Griffin III (Baylor quarterback), Matt Barkley (USC quarterback)
It is not getting any easier to project legitimate Heisman candidates, as so many players are having incredible seasons. But team success--whether it should or not--does seem to weigh on the minds of voters. So I am finally ready to admit that Stanford quarterback stands alone as the front runner for the prestigious award. A match-up against a hot USC team with nothing to lose looms, but the trophy seems to be Luck's to lose at this point.
1. Andrew Luck
Just the usual against a ranked Washington team last weekend: 16 for 21 passing, 2 touchdowns, no interceptions. Oh, by the way, the Cardinals also won the game 65-21. Did anyone really think Stanford would be this good after the departure of head coach Jim Harbaugh? Apparently, Luck knew something we didn't when he elected to return for his senior season. He will have to be at his best tomorrow night against a USC team that won on the road last weekend against Notre Dame, 31-17. If USC somehow manages a way to beat Stanford, don't be surprised if their own quarterback, Matt Barkley, pops into this column next week.
The lone running back in my top five--from Alabama--is climbing. With 989 rushing yards on the season, he will almost certainly top 1,000 yards in his next contest. He has also scored 17 touchdowns. His team, the Crimson Tide, have looked unbeatable all season, and Richardson is one of the big reasons why. Sure, he benefits from a stellar offensive line, but we're going to find out just how good he is on November 5 when Alabama hosts the other SEC leader, LSU. The Crimson Tide are idle this weekend.
In a shoot-out loss to Michigan State, which ended on a controversial, final-play hailmary, Wilson did not exactly play poorly, and he even helped engineer a bit of a fourth-quarter comeback. But his two interceptions did hurt Wisconsin's cause. The Badgers play several more quality opponents (read: opportunities for Wilson to shine), and it will start this weekend at Ohio State.
4. Kellen Moore
How does a proven leader of an unbeaten team with a quarterback rating of 180.7 place so low? It's a good question. I suppose I am guilty--like everyone else--of falling in line with the bias against Boise State. It's unfair, and I admit it. As long as Boise State wins out, Moore will almost certainly be invited to New York, but there is almost no chance he'll be handed the trophy. Last week, against a pesky Air Force team, Moore completed 23 of 29 passes for 281 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. This week, the Broncos are off. They line up next against a lowly UNLV squad on November 5.
5. Case Keenum
This week's new entry charged in with a Thursday night effort of--get this--nine touchdown passes en route to a 73-34 win over Rice. That number broke an FBS record. Keenum has thrown for 32 touchdown passes and only three interceptions. He leads an offense that ranks first in the nation in passing yards and points scored. Oh, and did I mention that his Houston Cougars are undefeated and currently sit at #17--almost certain to rise--in the BCS standings? Like Moore, Keenum will be hurt by his school's weak schedule, but we do well to remember that Houston did knock off UCLA to start the season. If you are thinking Keenum has been around for ever and didn't he graduate? That's probably because he's back for a fifth season after his true senior year was shortened by an injury. The Cougars take on UAB on November 5.
Honorable Mentions: Robert Griffin III (Baylor quarterback), Matt Barkley (USC quarterback), Landry Jones (Oklahoma quarterback), Brandon Weeden (Oklahoma State quarterback), Tajh Boyd (Clemson quarterback)
Alas, I must admit that through seven weeks of the season, a running back sits firmly in the Heisman race, but for now, it is two quarterbacks who seem to have distanced themselves from the rest, at least temporarily. The top two candidates both have big tests this weekend.
Andrew Luck continues to get the headlines; Wilson continues to put up sick numbers. But even with his 14:1 touchdown to interception ratio and 74% completion percentage, if the Wisconsin quarterback cannot lead his Badgers to victory this weekend in Lansing against Michigan State, voters will definitely notice. The Spartans are Wisconsin's biggest test so far this season.
2. Andrew Luck
Stanford's reputable quarterback will also get tested this weekend against a 5-1 Washington squad. Luck threw his third pick of the season last weekend, but that did not diminish his 336 yards through the air and four touchdown passes. Stanford's schedule gets significantly harder the rest of the way, so expect a slight drop in stats, but if Luck can lead the Cardinals to wins over Washington, USC, Oregon, and Notre Dame, don't be surprised when he is handed the Heisman trophy in New York.
What more could the Alabama running back do? He has rushed for more than 100 yards in six straight games for the undefeated Crimson Tide, proving he definitely belongs in the Heisman mix. On the season, he averages almost seven yards a carry and has scored in all but one of Bama's wins. This weekend, he will face a Tennessee Volunteer team that has lost two in a row.
Griffin's numbers came back slightly to earth's radar, but this much can definitely be said about Baylor's quarterback: he is not the Bears' problem, even after they lost to 55-28 to Texas A&M. In a losing effort, all he did was complete 28 out of 40 passes for 430 yards and 3 touchdowns. Baylor rests this weekend, but its job does not get any easier next weekend against Oklahoma State. Griffin would need a marquee win like that to merit serious Heisman consideration.
5. Kellen Moore
In a more just world, Boise State's quarterback would receive more attention. He just does what he does. Last weekend, he completed an ungodly 26 of 30 passes for 338 yards and four touchdown passes. Per usual, he did not throw any interceptions en route to Boise State's 63-13 win over Colorado State. Look for Moore to put up big numbers again this weekend against a struggling Air Force defense.
Honorable mention: Landry Jones (Oklahoma quarterback)
Do you think North Carolina State head coach Tom O’Brian regrets telling quarterback Russell Wilson to choose between pursuing his baseball career and competing for the quarterbacking job at North Carolina State yet? Either way, Wisconsin is reaping the benefits. And Wilson leads this week’s list of Heisman candidates.
1. Russell Wilson. He has been dominant (13 touchdown passes, one interception, 75% completion rate, two rushing touchdowns) in leading the Badgers to their undefeated start. Against Nebraska, they almost looked unbeatable. After this weekend’s contest with IU—which Wisconsin will surely win—the Badgers have their next tough test at Michigan State on October 22.
2. Andrew Luck. Even though it seems much of the popular press has already anointed Luck the Heisman winner, he will probably have to play well and beat USC, Oregon, and Notre Dame in three out of his last five games to garner the award. His numbers compare to Wilson’s: 14 touchdown passes, two interceptions, 73% completion rate, one rushing touchdown. All of this will likely result in Luck as the first quarterback drafted in 2012, but whether or not the Heisman trophy will be part of the package remains to be seen.
3. Robert Griffin III. What has he done to slide, you ask? It’s a legitimate question. He’s still completing 80% of his passes, and his Baylor Bears are 4-1. His 19:1 touchdown passes to interceptions ratio is incredible. I do think, however, that those numbers are going to come back to earth during the next few weeks, as Baylor’s next two games are against Texas A&M and Oklahoma State (and Oklahoma a few weeks later). If Griffin can lead Baylor to two wins out of those three, while continuing to produce at such a high level, he deserves major consideration for the Heisman. (And you can say that I jumped ship before I should have.)
4. Kellon Moore. Let’s be clear and honest about Moore and Boise State. He and they are where they were at the beginning of the season and probably where they will be at the end of the season, barring anything crazy. Third (or fourth, in this instance). As in, you’re really good, and in a just system you’d get a chance to prove you’re the best, but for now, we’ll give you a high five and put you in the Heisman tracker. We’ll probably even invite you to New York; just don’t expect to go home with the trophy. Moore’s numbers so far? How about 17 touchdown passes, 4 interceptions, completing 74% of his passes. And Boise is 5-0. Man, everything those guys do is so cute!
5. Landry Jones. He is right back in the thick of things after leading his Sooners in a dominant 55-17 win over Red River rival Texas. Jones threw for 367 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. Very comparable to his numbers on the season. If Oklahoma continues to win dominantly against good competition, don’t count Jones out of this race. Voters definitely bias their votes toward teams that play in the national championship. So far, at least four of these five at least have a chance to do that.
And yes, I’m still biased toward the quarterback position.
The competition for the Heisman has been mainly between quarterbacks, with Baylor's Robert Griffin III leading the way.
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