Now for my list of the players who currently stand the best chance of actually winning the Heisman. This is not a predicted order of the final vote, nor the order of how the vote would go if held today. Some players not on this list are likely to receive support, but not enough to win.
So, here is the HP Heisman Watch after nine weeks of football. We are down to three players. Barring injury, all three of them will make it to New York, but just one will win the 2010 Heisman:
1. Cameron Newton, QB, Auburn–Newton maintained his status as the Heisman front runner thanks to a versatile showing against Mississippi. The Auburn quarterback not only threw for 209 yards and two touchdowns, he also rushed for 45 and caught a 20-yard touchdown pass. While it wasn’t the usual overwhelming performance we are used to seeing from Newton, it was more than enough to impress voters who might’ve been looking for chinks in his armor. He now has games left against Chattanooga and Georgia in which to pile up stats before taking on Alabama in a game that could determine not only the Heisman, but one-half of the national title matchup. As it stands, Newton is on pace for over 2,000 passing yards and 1,500 rushing yards and reaching those marks while leading the Tigers to an undefeated season should easily assure him the Heisman.
Current Stats: 108/162 (66.7%), 1,573 yds, 15 TDs, 5 INTs, 172.6 rtg; 168 att, 1,122 rush yds (6.68 ypc), 14 TDs
Projected Season Stats*: 2,100 passing yds, 20 TDs, 8 INTs; 1,500 rush yds, 19 TDs
2. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon–By having a monster game against USC, James not only held his own in the race, he gained some ground on Newton. Whereas before week nine he was battling with Moore for second, he is now in sole possession of the No. 2 spot and growing stronger. If all goes according to form, James will be right there with Newton going into the weekend before the final vote is due. He’s currently on pace for 1,900 yards, but it’d improve his chances even more if he can crack 2,000. The best situation for the Ducks is for Arizona to beat Stanford this weekend to set up a possible top 10 showdown with the Wildcats in three weeks, which would give James another stage on which to shine. I think that, barring injury, James is on his way to New York and, if a few things go his way, he could yet steal the Heisman away from Newton.
Current Stats: 170 att, 1,210 yards, 14 TDs, 7.1 ypc; 5 catches, 119 yards, 1 TD
Projected Season Stats*: 1,903 yards, 22 TDs; 7 catches, 207 yards, 2 TDs
3. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State–Moore played well in a Tuesday night game against Louisiana Tech this past week but, given the opponent, I don’t think he made much of an impression with Heisman voters, especially when you compare his performance with what Newton and James did a few days later. Yes, he did catch a touchdown pass and continued his torrid passing streak, but he is a slave to the circumstances of his schedule. Moore is heading to New York, but he’s a distant third in this race and will need both Newton AND James to either drop off statistically, lose, or get injured for him to have a shot at winning.
Current Stats: 125/179 (69.8%), 1,865 yds, 18 TDs, 2 INTs, 188.30 rtg
Projected Season Stats*: 3,197 passing yards, 31 TDs, 3 INTs
*–Denotes projected stats at time of the Heisman vote
If the vote were held today
1. Cameron Newton
2. LaMichael James
3. Kellen Moore
4. Denard Robinson
5. Terrelle Pryor
6. Andrew Luck
7. Taylor Martinez
8. Ricky Stanzi
9. Ryan Mallett
10. Robert Griffin