After nine weeks of football, the Heisman race is dwindling down. We have a pretty good idea of who is still alive in the Heisman race and who has seen their chances slip out of their hands.
There are only a few players that still have legitimate shots at hoisting the 25-pound bronze statue at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York City.
We have a frontrunner, but we did see another candidate start to nip at his heels thanks to his performance on Saturday night. We are approaching the finish line of the season and it should be a fun race the rest of the way.
The Front Runners
- Cameron Newton (QB/Auburn) – It’s hard not to like this guy. I’m the biggest Alabama fan you will meet, but I respect good football and good football players. Cameron Newton is a good football player. He’s more than good, he’s excellent. He’s a striking physical specimen that I have never seen before. I thought I had seen it when Tim Tebow was at Florida, but this guy is bigger, stronger, and faster than Tebow and has a better arm. He showed his athleticism against an overmatched Ole Miss team on Saturday. Not only did he throw for 209 yards on 18/24 passing with two touchdowns, but he also caught a jump ball touchdown pass from former QB turned WR Kodi Burns. Oh yeah and he rushed for 45 yards. This guy is an absolute freak. He’s the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy right now and it’s still his to lose. After all that Newton praise, I have to get something off my chest. I hate Auburn. That is all.
- LaMichael James (RB/Oregon) – LaMichael James is nipping at Cam Newton’s heels after his huge performance in front of national audience on Saturday night against USC. LaMichael James put Oregon’s offense on his back and carried the ball 36 times for 239 yards and three touchdowns to help Oregon beat USC 53-32 and stay undefeated. James is now the nation’s 2nd leading rusher behind Denard Robinson with 1,210 yards. James also happens to play for the nation’s #1 team. If James is to win the Heisman Trophy, he would need a really bad game from Newton, or for Auburn to lose one of their final games and the Ducks to remain undefeated. I think that James is in good shape right now, especially if Auburn falls in Tuscaloosa to Alabama on the final weekend of the regular season.
- Kellen Moore (QB/Boise State) – It wasn’t a bad performance that dropped Kellen Moore from 2nd to 3rd in the Heisman race. He actually played a great game on Tuesday night against Louisiana Tech. The impetus for Moore falling to #3 in the Heisman race is because of LaMichael James’ ridiculous performance against USC. Moore is still alive in the Heisman race and should be one of the players invited to New York for the ceremony, but it’s hard to envision Moore lifting the Heisman. He completed 20 of his 28 pass attempts for 298 yards with two touchdowns and a rare interception in Boise State’s 49-20 win over Louisiana Tech. I say rare interception, because that was only Moore’s second interception of the entire season! He’s still the nation’s most efficient passer by a good margin.
- Andrew Luck (QB/Stanford) – The top three in the Heisman race have a sizable lead on the rest of the pack. The rest of the pack is highlighted by Stanford QB Andrew Luck, who put together another strong performance to lead the Cardinal to a 41-0 beatdown of Washington. He completed 73% of his passes for 192 yards and traded a touchdown for an interception. Luck added 92 yards on the ground with only carrying the ball five times. That was thanks to him breaking off a 51 yard touchdown in the first quarter to begin the rout of Washington. It’s not likely that he has a real shot at winning the Heisman unless he plays out of his mind the last few games, but he has a great shot at getting invited to the ceremony and being a finalist.
- John Clay (RB/Wisconsin) – John Clay remains a front runner in the Heisman race, but it is by a slim margin. I couldn’t knock Clay off the frontrunner plateau for having a bye week. Wisconsin has been playing great football lately after pulling off consecutive wins over Ohio State and Iowa before getting a bye week. He only put up 94 yards on 21 carries against Iowa, but that was against a very stingy Hawkeye defense and he punched in a couple of touchdowns to help lead the Badgers to a one point victory. Clay is going to need to put up some big performances in the coming weeks to remain a frontrunner.
Just off the Pace
- Kendall Hunter (RB/Oklahoma State) – For whatever reason, Kendall Hunter isn’t being talked about in the Heisman conversation. He’s playing for a one-loss team in the Big XII and is the nation’s third leading rusher. With Justin Blackmon out, Kendall Hunter put the Oklahoma State offense on his back by carrying the ball 28 times for 143 yards in the Cowboys’ 24-14 win over Kansas State on the road Saturday. Hunter should definitely be in the Heisman conversation and if I had a vote, he would be very close to cracking it into the top five in my ballot. He’s one of the best backs in the nation and deserves more respect than he has been getting this season from the so-called “experts.”
- Terrelle Pryor (QB/Ohio State) – Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor is still alive in the Heisman race and still has a shot to get invited to the Heisman ceremony on the second Saturday of December. Pryor has bounced back nicely in his two games since Ohio State’s loss to Wisconsin. Most recently, Pryor completed 18 of his 22 pass attempts for 222 yards and a pair of touchdowns with an interception. He also added 55 yards on the ground along with a touchdown. Pryor has a long road ahead of him to be a Heisman finalist, but I believe he is capable of doing so. After a bye week and a game against Penn State, Terrelle Pryor will get his chance to shine again on the big stage when the Buckeyes travel to Iowa City for a date with the Hawkeyes.
- Andy Dalton (QB/TCU) – Andy Dalton hasn’t put up the numbers that most would have hoped this season, but he has still put up solid numbers and is the QB for an undefeated team sitting in the top five. Andy Dalton had a great game against UNLV on Saturday. He completed 16 of his 23 passes for 252 yards and two touchdowns to go along with a touchdown on the ground. Dalton’s performance helped lift the Horned Frogs to a 48-6 blowout victory over UNLV.
Falling off the Pace
- Matt Barkley (QB/USC) – Matt Barkley had a chance to thrust himself as a Heisman frontrunner against Oregon. If Barkley could have put together a big performance and led the Trojans to an upset win over the Ducks, Barkley would have likely been a frontrunner in the Heisman race. Instead, Barkley struggled against the speedy Ducks defense. He threw 49 passes, but only completed 26 of them for 264 yards with a touchdown, but he did toss two crucial interceptions in the Trojans 53-32 loss to the Ducks. Barkley’s chances at the Heisman Trophy went up in flames against Oregon on Saturday night.
- Kirk Cousins (QB/Michigan State) – Kirk Cousins had put up a brilliant season coming into Saturday’s game with Iowa and had lead the Spartans to an 8-0 start and a top five ranking. I had Cousins just off the Heisman pace coming into the game with Iowa. But, he couldn’t muster up any more magic and midnight struck for Michigan State’s undefeated season. The Spartans were beaten soundly by Iowa to the tune of 37-6. Kirk Cousins found the going tough against the Iowa defense. He managed to complete 72% of his passes and he threw for 198 yards, but he had three interceptions with only one touchdown in Michigan State’s loss.
- Justin Blackmon (WR/Oklahoma State) – Blackmon’s DUI arrest last week ended any slim chance he had of being a Heisman finalist. He was the nation’s leading receiver coming into this weekend, but now fell behind Hawaii receiver Greg Salas. He had been putting up ridiculous numbers this season and was beginning to get some Heisman love. He’s no longer getting that same love after his stupid decision and he is no longer apart of the Heisman race in any way.
- Trent Richardson (RB/Alabama) – For whatever reason, Trent Richardson is not getting a lot of attention in the Heisman race. It really doesn’t make any since when you see all he does for the Crimson Tide. He does a lot more than just run the ball out of the backfield for Alabama. To go along with running the ball, Richardson is a factor in the receiving game, returns kicks, and is in on kick coverage for Alabama. If you had to find an MVP for the Tide this season up to this point, then it would be Richardson. He is 2nd in the nation in All-Purpose yards per game, trailing only Oregon RB LaMichael James with 181.8 yards per game. If you haven’t thought or Richardson as a Heisman contender, then you should be.
- Tyrod Taylor (QB/Virginia Tech) – Virginia Tech has won six straight games after their 0-2 start and are in the drivers seat in the ACC Coastal race. A large part of the Hokies success recently has been the play of their QB Tyrod Taylor. He’s been incredibly efficient with his arm and does what he needs to with his legs. Taylor is 5th in the nation in passer efficiency and if he can keep playing like he has been and Virginia Tech wins the ACC, then it’s not out of the question to think that he garners an invite to New York.
- Robert Griffin III (QB/Baylor) – Baylor is 7-2 and controls its own destiny in the Big XII South race. Yes, you read that correctly. If by some chance, Baylor runs the table and wins the Big XII, then I believe Robert Griffin will be a Heisman finalist. That’s a lot to ask for, but it’s not out of the question thanks to the way the Bears have been playing of late. Griffin’s 219 yard day on 16/24 passing with two touchdowns through the air and one on the ground helped Baylor to a 30-22 win over Texas, their first since 1997. He’s having a great year and has led Baylor to a truly special season in Waco.