Here is the latest edition of my Heisman Watch, which is my gauge of the players who currently have the best chance of actually winning the Heisman.
1. Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State–He didn’t blow people away against Miami, but he threw for 233 yards and rushed for 113 to lead his Buckeyes to a win and that’s what counts. When it’s all said and done, he’s still got the best chance of winning the Heisman and, if for some reason he’s behind the curve, there is that little matchup with Michigan at the end to make things right. He’s on pace to have 2,880 yards and 24 TDs passing and another 780 yards and 12 TDs rushing by the time of the Heisman vote. Those are Heisman-worthy numbers by any measure.
2. Denard Robinson, Michigan–The only question for Robinson is whether he can stay healthy and keep up his torrid pace. Not that he has to put up 500 yards every game. If he averages 154 rushing yards from here on out, he’ll crack the 2,000 yard mark. As it stands now, though, he’s on pace to have 2,600 passing yards and 2,700 rushing yards by the time the vote goes down. Um, yeah. That’d do it.
3. Kellen Moore, Boise State–Has any team or player been more quickly overshadowed than Boise State and Moore has this past week? Thanks to the Hokies’ loss to James Madison and the heroics of Robinson and Pryor, Moore isn’t the talk of the town so much anymore. Still, he’s now established as a name and his team is in the title mix. He’s just going to need a little help, which means the players ahead of him need to mess up.
4. Ryan Mallett, Arkansas–Mallett is a juggernaut lurking in the shadows of the Heisman race. As expected, he’s putting up huge numbers, but so far it’s not against marquee competition. Coming showdowns with Georgia, Alabama, Texas A&M and Auburn will prove his mettle in this race. He’s on pace for 4,200 yards and 36 touchdowns, so the stats should be there. If the wins follow, look out.
5. DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma–I am of a mind that the voters are unlikely to pick Landry Jones for Heisman so soon after choosing Sam Bradford, but that shouldn’t prevent Murray from making headway. Even though he was shut down against FSU, he still scored a couple touchdowns and the Sooners won. He’s on pace to rush for over 1,600 yards and score 24 touchdowns by the time of the Heisman vote. If some of the other candidates slip up and he gets to these marks, he’d have a shot.
6. Andrew Luck, Stanford–Luck is the candidate out West with the best shot of winning. Not only has a Stanford quarterback won the Heisman before, a Stanford running back finished second last season. So, voters are well aware of him. He’s off to a good start this year and there are high profile games with Oregon and USC to burnish his credentials. At his current pace, he’ll throw for 2,820 yards and 36 touchdowns while adding another 420 yards on the ground. If the Cardinal win the Pac-10, he’ll get some consideration.
7. John Clay, Wisconsin–Clay is off to a good start so far, but he needed to get off to a torrid start to have a shot at the Heisman and that’s why he has dropped off some on this Watch. I believe he needs 2,000 yards or more to have a shot at winning. At this stage, he’s on pace for 1,560. There are still games to be played, but he needs to pick up the pace a bit.
8. Trent Richardson, Alabama–Richardson shined on a national stage against Penn State and now has an outside shot at a serious Heisman run. Naturally, it will depend on the status of Mark Ingram moving forward and how many carries last year’s winner will get upon his return. Right now, Richardson is on pace for just over 1,200 yards and 18 touchdowns, but he could improve upon that if he retains the bulk of the carries.
9. LaMichael James, Oregon–James is a little late to the party, but he did make a nice splash following his one-game suspension, rushing for 134 yards and a score against Tennessee. With Oregon in the national title mix, he’ll get plenty of attention now. He’s on pace for nearly 1,500 yards despite the missed game, but with the Ducks offense the way it is, I wouldn’t be shocked if he got more now that he’s rolling again. He’ll have to do some special things to jump the rest of the list, but it’s not out of the question.
10. Daniel Thomas, Kansas State–Thomas is the nation’s premier power back and a future first round NFL pick. So far this year he is averaging 185 yards and two scores per game which means he is on pace for 2,220 yards and 24 touchdowns by the time of the Heisman vote. Big 12 backs like Troy Davis have gone over 2,000 yards before without winning the Heisman, but they came close, so if he can hit that mark, he’ll be in the thick of the race. Naturally, the wildcard is how well his team will do. If they can hit 8 wins and he hits 2,000, he might have a good case.
If the vote were held today
1. Denard Robinson
2. Terrell Pryor
3. Kellen Moore
4. Ryan Mallett
5. Case Keenum
6. Jerrod Johnson
7. Andrew Luck
8. Patrick Peterson
9. Daniel Thomas
10. Trent Richardson