Some observations and notes from the Heisman race following the fourth week of college football:
– I think Andrew Luck still leads this Heisman race, but the field is opening up. Besides the stalwart Kellen Moore, there are several other attractive candidates emerging in case Luck falters down the road.
– Those candidates: Robert Griffin III, Marcus Lattimore, Trent Richardson, Tajh Boyd, Russell Wilson.
– What about LaMichael James? Without a doubt, he is piling up rushing yards with 502 the last two weeks. But I think Oregon’s loss to LSU in week one really hurt his candidacy. There is a perception out there that James (and Oregon) can pile up yards against bad team (like Arizona) but really struggles against teams with elite talent. I think the only way James is going to shake that perception is to have a ridiculously amazing season. If he keeps doing what he has been doing the last two weeks, then fine. But I doubt he does.
– What about Landry Jones? True, he is the quarterback of the (sort of) No. 1 team. But he hasn’t exactly been overwhelming this year. He has just five TD passes and four interceptions in his first three games. He will need to go on a big tear to stick in this race. Not out of the question at all and he is not to be counted out for a while.
– Can someone win a Heisman Trophy playing for Baylor? It depends. There’s a chance the normal calculus probably won’t apply to Griffin, meaning it is doubtful to me that he reaps postseason glory merely by virtue of leading his team to a top five finish in the polls. However, there is indeed room for a Heisman winner who leads his team to a good season while putting up astronomical statistics of a kind never-before seen. Case in point, Barry Sanders in 1988 and Tim Tebow in 2007. What if Baylor goes 9-3, but Griffin shatters the NCAA mark for passing efficiency while having something like 40 TD passes and 3 picks while completing 80 percent of his passes? Wouldn’t you have to give him the Heisman? I’d think so.
– Even if Tajh Boyd and Clemson don’t take their place among the elite of college football this year, you have to like the Tigers’ chances in the seasons to come. Boyd is just a sophomore and there’s not a senior to be found among the running backs and receivers (and, in fact, they are mostly freshmen and sophomores). Sammy Watkins might be as impressive a freshman receive as I’ve seen in a while.
– Trent Richardson is slowly building to a fine season. He had 126 yards rushing against Arkansas and added another 85 yards receiving. If he can take it up a notch this week against Florida, he’ll start to get some serious Heisman consideration.
– Denard Robinson is suddenly on pace for another 1,700-yard rushing season. Interestingly enough, he might end up as Michigan’s all-time leading rusher before his career is over with. If he gets to that 1,700 mark again, he’ll probably make it to New York so long as Michigan shows marked improvement the rest of the way .
I’ll have my HP Heisman Watch on Monday and the Heismanpundit Poll on Tuesday (or Wednesday, depending on circumstances).