There are the times that try Heisman voters’ souls…
Now for my weekly 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 some support, just not enough to win.
So, here is the HP Heisman Watch after 11 weeks of football. The list remains stuck at three players. Barring injury, or NCAA issues, all three of them will make it to New York, but just one will win the 2010 Heisman:
1. Cameron Newton, QB, Auburn–It has become increasingly clear to the vast majority of Heisman voters that Newton is the most outstanding player in the country this year. While there are other worthy candidates out there, the Auburn quarterback’s talent and athleticism really stands out to even the most casual observer. His ability to dominate a game–seemingly at will–has put him on a different level than the other contenders. The only thing standing between him and the Heisman Trophy is the NCAA investigation. This wildcard is turning the race into one of the craziest in Heisman history. One simply can’t know exactly how it will all shake out. Will the NCAA find a way to act quickly on this matter and put it to rest? Will more information come out? Is this something that will drag on for a while? One thing we do know is that, without the investigation, this race would essentially be over. Newton just keeps producing, most recently against Georgia, as he rushed for 151 and threw for 148 while compiling four touchdowns along the way. Voters really do want to vote for him, but some are beginning to have serious doubts about his character. Recent informal surveys of Heisman voters show that Newton has already lost up to 20 to 25 percent of his support. At this point, that’s not enough to deny him the Heisman, but if any other ugly shoes drop, he’s in big trouble. Auburn has a bye this week, so get ready for two weeks of idle speculation before the Tigers take on Alabama.
Current Stats: 135/198 (68.2%), 2,038 yds, 21 TDs, 6 INTs, 183.58 rtg; 206 att, 1,297 rush yds (6.3 ypc), 17 TDs
Projected Season Stats*: 2,408 passing yds, 25 TDs, 8 INTs; 1,534 rush yds, 21 TDs
2. (tie) LaMichael James, RB, Oregon–It was a tough week for James, who was stymied by the Cal Bear defense. The sophomore tailback was held to a season-low 91 yards and kept out of the end zone for the first time this year. As far as down games go, it wasn’t too bad, but James missed an opportunity to steal some of Newton’s thunder. To win the Heisman, he’ll need to have a couple huge games against Arizona and Oregon State to close out the season and then hope that the NCAA issues take care of the rest. He still leads the nation in rushing, but his chances at the 2,000 yard marker have all but vanished (the one-game suspension might cost him in the end!). I have him tied with Kellen Moore right now because I believe both candidates have an equal shot at winning the Heisman if Newton somehow gets disqualified. James would have the advantage of being the top player on the No. 1 team, but Moore would be seen as the squeaky-clean alternative to two players who both have checkered pasts. James is also off this week, so I don’t expect this order to change much next time around.
Current Stats: 225 att, 1,422yards, 17 TDs, 6.32 ypc; 10 catches, 149 yards, 1 TD
Projected Season Stats*: 1,738 yards, 22 TDs; 13 catches, 200 yards, 2 TDs
2. (tie) Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State–While the media raged over the Newton controversies, Moore quietly put together another strong outing, throwing for 216 yards and three scores on 19 of 26 passing against Idaho. His current pass efficiency rating of 191.15 would break the NCAA mark of 186 set by Colt Brennan in 2006. That’s a worthwhile accomplishment and one that hasn’t been talked about too much. If nothing happens to Newton and he goes on to win the Heisman, I think Moore will finish third in the Heisman vote. But if Newton is brought down by these allegations, I think Moore has just as good a chance of winning the Heisman as James. It would be quite a contrast for voters to go from favoring a 6-5 athletic freak to settling on a 5-11, cerebral pocket passer, but it just might work out for the Boise quarterback. He’s got Fresno State on Friday and then his last major test against Nevada a week later.
Current Stats: 174/242 (70.9%), 2,588yds, 24 TDs, 4 INTs, 191.15 rtg
Projected Season Stats*: 3,444 passing yards, 32 TDs, 5 INTs
*–Denotes projected stats at time of the Heisman vote
If the vote were held today
1. Cameron Newton
2. Kellen Moore
3. LaMichael James
4. Terrelle Pryor
5. Andrew Luck
6. Andy Dalton
7. Justin Blackmon
8. Denard Robinson
9. Patrick Peterson
10. Tyrod Taylor