As opposed to my poll of Heisman voters, the HP Heisman Watch is my personal opinion on the current state of the Heisman race. Based on what we know right now, these are the players who I see as having the best chance of actually WINNING the trophy. This is not a list of how I think the vote would go if held right now. Keep in mind, this list gauges the current advantages held by each candidate and extrapolates how these advantages might play out over the rest of the season. My hope is to whittle down this list as we go on:
1. Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State–He’s the star player on one of the top teams and everyone knows about him and his considerable talents. If he leads Ohio State to a win over Miami, he’ll be in the driver’s seat in this race. Later games vs. Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan will give him a chance to seal the deal…or lose it. If Ohio State loses vs. Miami and Pryor plays poorly, that opens the door for the players below to make a move. In that scenario, it would take a gargantuan season for Pryor to recover.
2. Jacory Harris, Miami–Should Harris lead the Canes to a win over Ohio State in the horseshoe, he’ll be instantly vaulted into Heisman contention. That’s one of the advantages of playing for a power like Miami. If the Canes lose, however, he’s likely finished as a Heisman candidate unless he puts up some insanely impressive numbers the rest of the way and the Canes win out.
3. Christian Ponder, Florida State–If Ponder leads the Seminoles to a win over Oklahoma, he’ll be instantly vaulted into the top tier of Heisman candidates. He also benefits from playing for a traditional Heisman power. If the Noles lose, it will be tough for Ponder to recover unless they win out and he puts up some incredible numbers.
4. Kellen Moore, Boise State–A bye week for Moore on Saturday, but has a good chance to move up the list if the players ahead of him falter. Would win the Heisman if the vote were held today, but it isn’t being held today.
5. John Clay, Wisconsin–Off to a good start, but must keep it up and hope the players ahead of him hit some road bumps. The magic number for him, I believe, is 2,000. As in yards.
6. DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma–Yardage total in opener signals the possibility that a huge season could be in the works. High profile game vs. FSU this weekend gives him a shot of really getting noticed. When you are a running back for Oklahoma, all it takes is a couple good performances to get into the Heisman conversation.
7. Denard Robinson, Michigan–One game does not a candidate make, but if that second game is against Notre Dame, then the opportunity is there for the taking. Michigan is a traditional Heisman power and if Robinson keeps it up, he’ll be one of this season’s biggest stories.
8. Ryan Mallett, Arkansas–Did what he was supposed to do in the opener, but a couple other players from traditional powers made big splashes and that’s why he fell a couple spots.
The Rest: Are there other candidates out there who could possibly win at this point? Sure. But their odds are pretty low and I am confining this group to those with the BEST chance of winning.