In my opinion, through three games, we had three candidates that were head and shoulders better than everyone else. Week four saw one of them continue his impressive season, one of them get injured, and one of them fold under the pressure of a close game.
Now, we have seen a familiar face put his name back into the front runner category with two impressive games in a row. We’ve seen some people fall of the pace and we’ve seen some new sleepers emerge in the Heisman race.
This race continues to get more interesting with every week that passes and I hope you continue to follow my coverage of the race throughout the season.
The Front Runners
- Denard Robinson (QB/Michigan) – Denard Robinson’s knee is the talk of Ann Arbor following the Wolverines 65-21 win over Bowling Green on Saturday. Robinson injured his knee in the first quarter of the game, but it was said to just be a strain and he is expected to return to action this Saturday on the road against Indiana. Even though Robinson was knocked out midway through the first quarter, Robinson put up great numbers. He completed all four of his passes for 60 yards and he had 129 rushing yards on just five carries with a pair of touchdown rushes. It was Robinson’s fourth straight 100+ yard rushing performance and he continues leading the nation in rushing yards. He’s still the front runner for the Heisman Trophy after four weeks.
- Terrelle Pryor (QB/Ohio State) – Terrelle Pryor is hot on Denard Robinson’s heels at the moment and if both continue having these kind of seasons, the Heisman Trophy as well as the Big Ten Title could be on the line at the Horseshoe at the end of the season. Ohio State crushed Eastern Michigan 73-20 and while it was just Eastern Michigan, his numbers were incredibly impressive. He completed 20 of his 26 passes for 224 yards and four touchdowns, rushed for 104 yards on 7 carries and a touchdown, and caught a 20 yard touchdown pass. Pryor and the Buckeyes will now be in Big Ten play full swing starting on Saturday on the road against Illinois.
- Kellen Moore (QB/Boise State) – Kellen Moore and Boise State passed one of their final tests of the 2010 season with a 37-24 win over Oregon State on Saturday. Moore had an efficient night of passing as he went 19/27 for 288 yardds and three touchdowns; he also added another touchdown on the ground to lead the Broncos past the Beavers. Kellen Moore has been very impressive through three games this season and with Boise State sitting at #3 in the nation, he is firmly in the Heisman race.
- Andrew Luck (QB/Stanford) – I touted Andrew Luck as a Heisman candidate coming into the season and he is making me look very smart so far this season. He led his Cardinal into South Bend for a game against Notre Dame on Saturday and he led them out victorious with a 37-14 win over the Irish. He did throw his first two interceptions of the season, but through four games he has thrown for 912 yards, 11 touchdowns, and just two interceptions. He’s been brilliant for Stanford and his Heisman candidacy will be put to the test on Saturday in Eugene against the 4th ranked Oregon Ducks.
- Mark Ingram (RB/Alabama) – Why is Mark Ingram a front runner if he missed the first two games of the season? It’s because he’s the best running back in college football by far and might even be the best player in college football. In a game against Arkansas where two Heisman candidates were put to the test, Ingram stood out head and shoulders better than Ryan Mallett with 157 rushing yards on 24 carries and two touchdowns to lead Alabama out of Fayetteville with a come from behind 24-20 win over Arkansas. The two games hurt, but he’s put his name right back in the race with two very impressive performances. He’s still got some work to do, but he could very well win the Heisman Trophy for a 2nd time.
Just off the Pace
- LaMichael James (RB/Oregon) – It’s not a knock on LaMichael James that he’s not a front runner for this week; it’s just more of a credit to Andrew Luck and Mark Ingram. James has played great for the 4th ranked Ducks so far this season and he is very much in the race still. He ripped off his 3rd straight 100-yard game to open the 2010 season with 114 yards, but it did take him 28 carries to get there. Arizona State’s defense actually did very well by holding him to just 4.1 yards per carry, which is very impressive considering he had averaged over twelve a game after two weeks. Just like Andrew Luck, LaMichael James will be put to the test this weekend when Stanford invades Eugene.
- John Clay (RB/Wisconsin) – It was yet another boring 100+ yard game for John Clay on Saturday against Austin Peay. Like I’ve said a lot of times, Clay can rush for 100 yards nearly every game and never move up your excitement needle, which will likely be his downfall in the Heisman Trophy race. He carried the ball 15 times on Saturday and netted 118 yards and punched in a touchdown in Wisconsin’s 70-3 win. He’s rushed for over 100 yards in every game so far this season and is currently on pace for another 1500 yard season.
- Cameron Newton (QB/Auburn) – Auburn is 4-0 and they owe that to the performance of Cameron Newton. He led Auburn to a win over 12th ranked South Carolina on the Plains 35-27. He completed 16 of his 21 pass attempts for 158 yards and two touchdowns. He also carried the ball 25 times for 176 yards and three more touchdowns to net his total for the day to five. Five touchdowns in an SEC game by one player is extremely impressive and Cameron Newton has emerged as a serious player in the Heisman race.
Falling off the Pace
- Marcus Lattimore (RB/South Carolina) – Marcus Lattimore was looking like a legit candidate for the Heisman Trophy after three strong weeks of action for South Carolina. We have never had a freshman win the Heisman Trophy and it doesn’t appear that it will change this season. Lattimore was held to just 33 yards on 14 carries in South Carolina’s 35-27 loss to Auburn on Saturday. I never really expected Lattimore to make a serious push and his hopes of being the first freshman to win the Heisman have pretty much diminished.
- Ryan Mallett (QB/Arkansas) – Ryan Mallett was one of the top three candidates for the Heisman after three weeks. He was incredible and his performance against Georgia made him one of the front runners. He fell off the pace on Saturday in Arkansas’ 24-20 loss to Alabama. He played a brilliant three quarters against the Crimson Tide, but his two fourth quarter interceptions were extremely costly for his team. For the day, he completed 25 of 38 passes for 357 yards with one touchdown, but he threw three costly interceptions. Mallett isn’t completely out of the race yet, but he’s got some work to do for me to forget his performance in the fourth quarter against Alabama.
- Andy Dalton (QB/TCU) – Andy Dalton could have some better numbers, but he is still the unquestioned leader of a top five team and has lead TCU to a 4-0 start. He’s been very efficient for the Horned Frogs this season by completing 69% of his passes. He’s going to need better numbers the rest of the way this season to become a serious contender in the race, but it’s certainly not out of the question that he does.
- Colin Kaepernick (QB/Nevada) – Nevada has been very impressive this season and that is thanks to the play of their QB Colin Kaepernick. He’s completed 69% of his passes for 924 yards, six touchdowns to just one interception in leading Nevada to a 4-0 start that includes wins over California and BYU. He’s also done it on the ground with 451 rushing yards and eight touchdowns including a pair of 100+ yard rushing performances. If Nevada can run the table and pull of a late season upset of Boise State, then Kaepernick could be a serious candidate for the Heisman.
- Nick Foles (QB/Arizona) – Nick Foles hasn’t put up the best numbers this season, but he certainly has a flare for the dramatic endings and seems to play his best in the fourth quarter. He led Arizona on a game winning drive against Iowa last week and then came back this week and led a doormat Wildcat offense to a game winning drive to top California 10-9. He’s completed 74% of his passes so far this season with over 1000 yards and six touchdown tosses.
- Russell Wilson (QB/NC State) – Russell Wilson is the reason that NC State is 4-0 and the last remaining undefeated team in the ACC. He led the Wolfpack to an impressive 41-28 road victory over Georgia Tech on Saturday. He completed 28 of his 41 pass attempts for 368 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. For the season, Wilson has thrown for 1,112 yards and 11 touchdowns with just one interception. If NC State can continue playing like this and Wilson continues playing at this high of a level, then he will move from a sleeper into serious contention in the race.