For the first time in three weeks, we have a repeat leader in the Heisman race as he continued to strengthen his hold on the Heisman lead and he inches closer and closer to hoisting the Heisman Trophy in December.
But, as we have seen already this season, anything can happen. That means that even though it seems that someone is running away with the award, you never know what is going to happen in the last few weeks of the season.
All we know is that it’s going to be an exciting conclusion to the season.
The Front Runners
- Cameron Newton (QB/Auburn) – Could it be anybody else? Cameron Newton has been ridiculous this season and has lead Auburn to an 8-0 record and to #1 in the BCS Standings. He only threw for 86 yards on 10/16 passing against LSU on Saturday, but he rushed for 217 on 28 carries against the third ranked rushing defense in the country. It doesn’t seem to matter who is lining up on the other side of the ball – they just can’t stop Cam Newton. He eclipsed the 1000 rushing yard mark on Saturday afternoon and it took him just eight games to set a new SEC rushing record for a QB. Newton is leading the Heisman race by a considerable margin and even if Auburn is to slip up, it would take a disaster of an effort by Newton coupled with a loss to knock him out of the Heisman lead. At this point, Newton is the Heisman leader and he has a comfortable lead.
- Kellen Moore (QB/Boise State) – Kellen Moore and Boise State had a bye week last weekend and he maintains his hold on the #2 spot in the Heisman race. Moore had lead the Broncos to a 7-0 start and they are currently ranked 2nd in both the human polls and 3rd by the BCS. Moore has been a big reason why as he continues leading the nation in passing efficiency. He’s completing 70% of his passes and his QB rating is an absurd 190.35. He’s thrown just one interception all season long with sixteen touchdown passes. If Auburn slips up and Cameron Newton has a subpar game, then that will open the door for Moore to grasp the Heisman lead. In most seasons, Moore’s performance coupled with Boise’s lofty ranking would be enough to have him leading the race, but most seasons don’t produce a player like Cam Newton.
- LaMichael James (RB/Oregon) – LaMichael James is one of the most exciting players in college football and he plays for the most exciting team in college football. On Thursday night, Oregon throttled UCLA 60-13 and LaMichael James rushed for 123 yards on 20 carries and he added a pair or rushing touchdowns in the win. Even though James was suspended for the first game of the season, he has already racked up 971 yards on the ground which ranks 5th in college football this season. LaMichael James has a big opportunity to improve his chances at the stiff-arm trophy if he can come up big on Saturday night in Los Angeles against USC and keep the Ducks undefeated.
- Andrew Luck (QB/Stanford) – Andrew Luck came off his bye week and lead Stanford to a 38-28 win over Washington State. He completed 20 of his 28 passes, which is good for a 71.4 completion percentage, for 190 yards and three touchdowns with only one interception. Luck continues to be one of the top QB’s in the nation and has lead Stanford to a 6-1 start. Luck is 8th in the nation in QB rating, 7th in touchdown passes, and is in the top 25 in completion percentage. He’s had a great season and if he can continue leading Stanford to wins, then he has a great chance of vaulting up the list and into serious Heisman consideration. In the very least, he will receive an invite to New York for the ceremony if he keeps up this kind of play.
- John Clay (RB/Wisconsin) – Another big win for Wisconsin has only helped John Clay’s Heisman hopes as they looked like the best team in the Big Ten the past two weeks with wins over Ohio State and Iowa on the road. Clay didn’t put up eye-popping numbers, but he did have 91 rushing yards on 24 carries and punched in two touchdowns on a very stingy Iowa defense. It’s a long shot for Clay to win the Heisman, due to him just not being an exciting player like Cam Newton or LaMichael James. But, I think his accomplishments deserve to be noticed and I think he’s a front runner at this point.
Just off the Pace
- Matt Barkley (QB/USC) – Matt Barkley has a big chance this weekend against Oregon to put himself into serious Heisman consideration. To be honest, I think it’s a little ridiculous that he’s not been talked about like he should have so far. He’s in the top 10 in almost every major passing category and has been brilliant this season. His play has masked some glaring weaknesses in the Trojans team and they are sitting at 5-2. Like I said, Barkley will have his chance on the big stage to get serious Heisman consideration if he can come up big and lead USC to an upset of AP #1 Oregon. It’s not likely that it will happen, but it’s been a crazy season so far, so you never know.
- Kendall Hunter (RB/Oklahoma State) – Another guy that isn’t being talked about is Oklahoma State running back Kendall Hunter. Hunter is the 3rd ranked rusher in the country and leads all running backs with 1,031 yards on the ground. He trails only Michigan QB Denard Robinson and Auburn QB Cameron Newton in rushing. He did something against Nebraska on Saturday that doesn’t happen very often. He put up 201 yards on the ground against the “black shirts” on 26 carries with a pair of touchdowns. Even in Oklahoma State’s first loss of the season to the Huskers, Kendall Hunter did everything he could to lift the Cowboys to a win. And yet, you won’t hear his name mentioned in the Heisman talk of most of the “experts”, but you will definitely hear his name in mine.
- Kirk Cousins (QB/Michigan State) – It’s time for Kirk Cousins to get some recognition for his play this season. Cousins has lead Michigan State to an 8-0 start and to their highest BCS Ranking in school history at 5th. The Spartans lead the Big Ten and control their own destiny in the race, but will face a stiff road test on Saturday against Iowa. Cousins completed 29 of his 43 pass attempts for 331 yards and three touchdowns without an interception in Michigan State’s 35-27 win over Northwestern. It would take a lot for Cousins to win the Heisman, but he isn’t too far off the front runner pace after leadings his Spartans to an unblemished record up to this point.
Falling off the Pace
- Landry Jones (QB/Oklahoma) – If Landry Jones could have led Oklahoma to a road win over Missouri on Saturday night, then he likely would have catapulted up to front runner status in the Heisman race. He couldn’t make the big throws against Missouri and the Sooners fell 36-27 to the Tigers. He completed 32 of his 50 passes for 303 yards and three touchdown passes with two crucial interceptions. Landry Jones’ chances of winning the Heisman trophy or even being a finalist are greatly diminished following Oklahoma’s loss to Missouri as they fell from the ranks of the undefeated and lost their #1 BCS ranking.
- DeMarco Murray (RB/Oklahoma) – Another Oklahoma player that lost track in the Heisman race on Saturday was DeMarco Murray. Murray had a chance to improve his status in the Heisman race if he could string together a big performance against Missouri and Oklahoma could come out on top. Well, neither happened. Oklahoma lost and Murray was completely ineffective. He was held in check by the Missouri defense with just 49 yards on the ground on 12 rushing attempts. He had built some momentum over the past two weeks with consecutive 100+ yard performances in wins over Texas and Iowa State, but that momentum was lost in Missouri.
- Justin Blackmon (WR/Oklahoma State) – Blackmon is another guy that isn’t receiving much love in the Heisman race, but he should be. He leads the nation in receiving yards and touchdowns with 1,112 and 14 respectively. He had another huge game in a loss to Nebraska at home on Saturday. He’s had 125+ yards in every game this season and that trend continued this weekend. He only had five catches, but he made the most of them with 157 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Blackmon’s a long shot for the Heisman Trophy, but if any receiver has any chance at being a Heisman finalist, then it is Blackmon.
- Taylor Martinez (QB/Nebraska) – It’s hard to call Taylor Martinez a sleeper considering he was a front runner two weeks ago, but his disaster of a performance against Texas last week really hurt his chances. But, after a huge game against Oklahoma State, Martinez isn’t completely out of the race. He had a career afternoon passing against Oklahoma State with 323 yards through the air on 23/35 passing and five touchdown tosses. He also added 112 yards on the ground to lead the Huskers to a 51-41 win over the Cowboys. But, it’s going to take a lot of work to erase his performance against Texas from the voters’ memories.
- Trent Richardson (RB/Alabama) – Trent Richardson’s performance against Tennessee on Saturday catapulted him up to 2nd in the nation in all purpose yards behind only Indiana WR Tandon Doss. He is averaging 181.75 all-purpose yards per game and continues to lead Alabama in rushing. Richardson carried the ball 12 times against Tennessee and finished 119 yards and a touchdown to go along with a receiving touchdown. Richardson is another player that hasn’t received a whole lot of love from most people keeping track with the race since Mark Ingram returned from his knee injury, but he should be. It would take a lot for Richardson to be a serious contender, but he in the very least should be in the conversation.
- Tyrod Taylor (QB/Virginia Tech) – Surprised? Well, you shouldn’t be. I bet you would be surprised to hear that Tyrod Taylor is 4th in the nation in passing efficiency. Yes, you read that correctly. Ever since Virginia Tech started 0-2 with losses to Boise State and James Madison, Tyrod Taylor has played his best football of his Hokie career. He’s lead Virginia Tech to six straight wins and they sit atop the ACC Standings. For the season, Taylor is completing 64% of his passes for 1,602 yards and 15 touchdown passes to just 3 interceptions. His QB rating of 171.13 is 4th in the nation behind only Kellen Moore, Cam Newton, and Ricky Stanzi. Also, take into account that he has rushed for 527 yards and three more touchdowns and you have to think Taylor should be in the Heisman conversation at this point.