College Football Analysis: Handicapping the 2011 Heisman Trophy Race

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This is officially the last time we get to play this guessing game in 2011, so let's make it count. Here is a preview of what will likely happen when the Heisman Trophy is awarded this weekend:

1 – Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor Bears: Griffin has been outstanding all season. Combine his consistency throughout the year with a phenomenal close to the season that began with a win over Oklahoma in the final minute on an amazing touchdown pass and culminated with four touchdowns in the Bears’ second win over Texas in two years, and Griffin should be the frontrunner among the Heisman finalists.

2 – Monte Ball, RB, Wisconsin Badgers: Ball has surged up Heisman boards over the last quarter of the season as he chases Barry Sanders‘ NCAA record for touchdowns in a season. He was somewhat overshadowed in the beginning of the year by quarterback Russell Wilson, but in a backfield with several talented players Ball has stood out and currently leads the country in rushing yards and touchdowns.

3 – Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama Crimson Tide: He’s still the toughest player in the country to tackle. Richardson has rushed for 1,583 yards on 263 carries. He averages 131.9 yards per game, which is good for fifth in the country. His 20 rushing touchdowns also place him fifth in the country in that category.

4 – Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford Cardinal: Luck was the media darling before the season even got underway, and he didn’t disappoint once it did. He isn’t quite the Heisman frontrunner with the regular season and conference title games now complete, but there are still those who expect he’ll hear his name called in New York City not long from now.

5 – Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU Tigers: Mathieu bought his ticket to New York with a tremendous close to the season. A one-game suspension might have hurt his candidacy around the midpoint of the year, but a remarkable early season, steady performance throughout, and some more headline-grabbing plays to close the year has Mathieu among the finalists for the most prestigious individual award in college athletics.