The Heisman race continues to change as more and more undefeated teams go down. We are seeing the front runners of old drop off like flies, while other players emerge as the new front runners with big time performances.
This will be the third straight week I’ve had a different player atop my Heisman list after yet another crazy weekend of college football.
The race is heating up and with what has been a wild season so far, we can expect the same for the rest of the season and the Heisman race.
The Front Runners
- Cameron Newton (QB/Auburn) – Cameron Newton's performance against Arkansas has put him in the Heisman lead win over Arkansas, Newton is sitting alone at the top of the Heisman race. Auburn’s defense couldn’t stop Arkansas for most of the game, but that didn’t matter, because Newton answered the call each and every time. He ran for 188 yards on 25 carries and punched in three touchdowns. He added a touchdown through the air to go along with 140 passing yards. He has been unstoppable this season. It’s just not fair to have a 6’6 250 lb QB that has running back speed, tight end strength, and oh yeah, he can pass the ball. As impressive as Newton has been on the ground with 860 rushing yards, he’s been equally impressive through the air. He’s thrown for 1278 yards and is 2nd in the country in passer rating at 180.53. If Auburn can continue their undefeated season, then Newton will be lifting the Heisman Trophy in December.
- Kellen Moore (QB/Boise State) – It was just another day at the office for Kellen Moore, who continues to be the most efficient passer in the nation. It might have just been San Jose State, but Moore completed 14 of his 16 passes for 231 yards and 2 touchdowns. His numbers for the season: 69.5 CMP% 1567 Yards 16 TD’s 1 INT 190.35 Passer Rating. He’s put up great numbers so far this season and is leading the #3 ranked team in the country. You can watch Moore showcase his talents on ESPN and ESPN2 four more times this season in games against Louisiana Tech, Idaho, Fresno State, and Nevada.
- LaMichael James (RB/Oregon) – The week off certainly did not derail LaMichael James’ Heisman hopes. He is still clearly a front runner. Even though James was suspended for the first game of the season, James is 5th in the Nation in rushing yards with 848 yards on the ground. Oregon is the new #1 in both the Coaches and AP polls, so that only strengthens his case. He is the best player on the #1 team in the country. LaMichael James is a very fun player to watch and if you get the chance to watch him on Thursday night against UCLA, then I strongly suggest you do so.
- Andrew Luck (QB/Stanford) – Andrew Luck greatly benefited from the bye week. While other QB’s like Terrelle Pryor and Denard Robinson saw their Heisman hopes take a dive, Luck’s chances increased even though he didn’t play last Saturday. Luck has thrown for 1538 yards this season, 16 touchdowns, and a passer rating of 166.9. Luck is tied for 8th in the NCAA in touchdown passes and is 9th in the nation in passer rating. The loss to Oregon hurt, but it in no way ended Luck’s chances and he had a Heisman moment against USC last week when he led the Cardinal down the field for a game winning field goal. If Stanford can get to ten wins and that is very possible with their schedule down the stretch, I think Luck will be invited to New York for the Heisman ceremony.
- John Clay (RB/Wisconsin) – I said that John Clay could get back into the Heisman race with a strong performance against Ohio State and if the Badgers could pull the upset. Well, it happened. Clay ran the ball 21 times for 104 yards and a pair of rushing touchdowns on a very stingy Buckeye run defense. Clay lead Wisconsin to a 31-18 win over #1 Ohio State in Camp Randall and his performance has him right back in the Heisman race. It’s going to be tough for Clay to win the Heisman, but if he can continue stringing together 100-yard game after 100-yard game and the Badgers can win the Big Ten, then it’s a strong possibility.
Just off the Pace
- Matt Barkley (QB/USC) – Matt Barkley has not received the praise he deserves for his brilliant season thus far in Southern California, but he has put up great numbers this year to lead the Trojans. He’s been one of the best QB’s in college football so far this season. He is second in the nation in touchdown passes with 20 after his five in USC’s 48-14 win over California. That’s not the only impressive number for Barkley. His 1869 passing yards is 7th in the nation. He’s also the 8th most efficient passer in the nation this year with his QB rating of 167.3. It doesn’t make any sense that Barkley isn’t being talked about much in the Heisman race, but if he can continue putting up big numbers in big games, he has a chance. His Heisman hopes will come to a head in two weeks as Oregon pays a visit to the Coliseum.
- Kendall Hunter (RB/Oklahoma State) – It’s time to give Oklahoma State some credit. They are undefeated and nobody is talking about them. The smart money in the preseason was that Oklahoma State was going to finish 5th in the Big XII South. They are much better than expected. A big reason why is Kendall Hunter who is 6th in the nation in rushing yards with 830 rushing yards. Hunter has rushed for over 100 yards in every game but one this year and that was against Tulsa and he only got 11 carries. He ran for 130 yards on 25 carries and punched in a touchdown in Oklahoma State’s 34-17 win over Texas Tech. He deserves more praise than he’s getting.
- Landry Jones (QB/Oklahoma) – The #1 team in the BCS is…. Oklahoma… not Boise State as expected. Since the Sooners are the #1 team in the inaugural BCS Standings and in the drivers seat for the National Championship, you have to think Landry Jones is a serious Heisman candidate. He led Oklahoma to a 52-0 win over Iowa State on Saturday with an incredibly efficient night of passing. He completed 30 of his 34 pass attempts for 334 yards and three touchdown tosses. For the season, Jones has thrown for 1791 yards, 14 touchdowns, and just 3 interceptions.
Falling off the Pace
- Terrelle Pryor (QB/Ohio State) – Terrelle Pryor was the front runner last week, but he once again struggled against Wisconsin. He hadn’t played well in his two previous games against the Badgers and that trend continued in Camp Randall on Saturday. He completed 14 of his 28 passes for 156 yards and an interception. The Badgers kept him at bay on the ground as he managed just 56 rushing yards on 18 attempts. The Buckeyes loss to the Badgers knocked them from their #1 ranking and really hurt Terrelle Pryor’s chances at winning the Heisman. He’s not out of the race, but it would take a great run for the rest of the season and the Buckeyes running the table for him to have a shot at winning the Heisman.
- Denard Robinson (QB/Michigan) – Two weeks ago, Denard Robinson was leading the Heisman race by a considerable margin. This shows you how fast things can change in college football. He’s still the leading rusher in college football with 1096 yards on the ground and went over 1000 yards on Saturday against Iowa with 105 rushing yards. But, once again, Robinson was knocked out of a game. He injured his arm against the Hawkeyes and Michigan’s offense actually moved the ball better with Tate Forcier in the game. His Heisman hopes have all but ended even though he’s still on pace for ridiculous numbers.
- Taylor Martinez (QB/Nebraska) – Nothing like being benched to completely derail your Heisman hopes. He was incredible last Thursday night against Kansas State with 241 rushing yards, but he couldn’t do anything against the Texas defense. He was stifled and held to just 21 rushing yards on 13 attempts and completed only 4 of his 12 pass attempts for 63 yards. He ended up being benched by Bo Pelini and Texas knocked off Nebraska 20-13 to end the Huskers chances at a perfect season.
- Ryan Mallett (QB/Arkansas) – Ryan Mallett had a chance on the road against Auburn to get right back into the Heisman race as a front runner. But, it wasn’t in the cards as a concussion knocked Mallett out of the game in the second quarter. He went 10 for 15 throwing for 96 yards and a touchdown before having to leave the game and he didn’t return. His injury coupled with Arkansas’ second loss of the season pretty much ends Mallett’s chances at winning the Heisman trophy. Tough break.
- Ricky Stanzi (QB/Iowa) – Dismiss Ricky Stanzi’s Heisman chances at your own peril. Those of you who don’t follow college football religiously might be surprised to know that Ricky Stanzi is one of the most efficient QB’s in the nation. His QB Rating of 180.5 ranks third in the nation behind only Kellen Moore and Cameron Newton, the top two Heisman candidates in this week’s Heisman Watch. Iowa controls their own destiny in the Big Ten and plays all their big games at home. Stanzi has lead the Hawkeyes to a 5-1 record with 1474 passing yards, 13 touchdowns, and just 2 interceptions.
- Justin Blackmon (WR/Oklahoma State) – If a WR is going to win the Heisman Trophy this year, or be a finalist for that matter, it will be Justin Blackmon, the WR from Oklahoma State. Blackmon is leading the nation in receiving yards with 955 and touchdowns with 12. He’s had over 100 receiving yards in every game this season with his lowest total being 127 against Texas A&M. He went over 200 yards for the first time this season against Texas Tech in Lubbock on Saturday. He had 10 receptions for 207 yards and a touchdown in the Cowboys first victory in Lubbock in over 50 years.
- Trent Richardson (RB/Alabama) – This is another one where you have to hear me out. Trent Richardson hasn’t exactly put up eye popping rushing numbers since Mark Ingram has returned, but he still leads Alabama in rushing yards with 487 rushing yards. But, he’s not just a runner. As you saw on Saturday, he makes a difference in the receiving game and in kick returns. Nobody is going to mistake Greg McElroy for a great down field passer, which is why Richardson factors in so well. He caught a screen pass and raced 85 yards down the sideline for a touchdown. He had over 100 receiving yards on Saturday against Ole Miss. He is 1st in the SEC in All Purpose Yards and ranks 3rd nationally in all purpose yards averaging 183 yards per game after his 220 all purpose yards against the Rebels.
- Robert Griffin (QB/Baylor) – Griffin won’t be a finalist for the Heisman this year and he isn’t likely to get a mention outside of Waco. But, what Robert Griffin is doing for Baylor is amazing. He’s lead Baylor to the verge of bowl eligibility as they need just one win to get there after their win over Colorado on Saturday. Griffin lost his season last year to a torn ACL and he hasn’t missed a beat in his return this season. He is 4th in the nation in passing yards with 1969 and has thrown 14 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions. Also, don’t underestimate his ability to run the football as he showed on Saturday. He carried the ball 15 times for 137 yards against the Buffaloes. Yeah, this is the same guy that is a year removed from major knee surgery.