The HP Heisman Watch, Week 4

Week four is in the books and the 2011 Heisman race is starting to heat up a bit.

Below is my personal list of the players who currently stand the best chance of actually winning the Heisman, based on season-long projections (rather than the current prevailing wind).  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.

1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford – Luck had a bye week and this hurt him a little in the sense that he was out of sight, out of mind, but he remains the strong favorite.

Last Week: Bye

Next Opponent: UCLA

Season: 57 of 85, 786 yards, 67.1%, 8 TDs, 1 Ints., 173.44 rating

2. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina – Lattimore was contained by the Vanderbilt defense (77 yards) and it could be that the QB problems at South Carolina are starting to affect the running game a bit. However, Lattimore was productive as a receiver, adding another 73 yards and a score. Almost one-third of the way into the season, he’s second nationally in rushing and on pace to challenge the 2,000-yard mark, which would probably be enough to derail the Luck coronation.

Last Week against Vanderbilt: 20 carries, 77 yards, 1 TD, 3 catches, 73 yards, 1 TD

Next Opponent: Auburn

Season: 107 carries, 611 yards, 5.7 ypc, 8 TDs, 12 catches, 139 yards, 1 TD

3. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State – Another week, another stellar game for Moore, who was 23 of 29 for 279 yards and 4 TDs against Tulsa. He has a chance to get revenge this week against Nevada for last year’s heartbreaking loss. Moore is averaging 331 passing yards per game and has an efficiency rating of 192.

Last Week against Tulsa: 23 of 29, 79.3%, 279 yards, 4 TDs, 0 Ints.

Next Opponent: Nevada

Season: 83 of 105, 79%, 995 yards, 12 TDs, 2 Ints., 192.56 rating.

4. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama – Richardson’s start to the season was a bit under the radar, but he’s starting to come around. He came up big last week in a win over then-No. 14 Arkansas and now he’s got another chance to show his stuff against a ranked Florida team. Putting up big performances in these kind of games is what Heisman voters like.

Last Week against Arkansas: 17 carries, 126 yards, 3 catches, 85 yards, 1 TD

Next Opponent: Florida

Season: 67 carries, 441 yards, 6.58 ypc, 8 TDs, 9 catches, 121 yards, 1 TD

5. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor – Griffin’s numbers continue to astound as he has more TD passes than incompletions on the season. Can he keep up the pace? The best way for him to win is to have statistics that are above and beyond those of all the other candidates. Now that conference play is coming, we’ll know a bit more about how his season will play out.

Last Week against Rice: 29 of 33, 338 yards, 5 TDs, 6 carries, 51 yards, 1 TD

Next Opponent: at Kansas State

Season: 70 of 82, 85.4%, 962 yards, 13 TDs, 0 Ints., 236.34 rating, 24 carries, 167 yards, 1 TD

6. Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma – Jones isn’t setting the world on fire, but as a high-profile quarterback with some big games yet to play, he has a chance to make a run later in the season. He’ll have to increase his TD passes and limit his interceptions, but he’s still got a chance.

Last Week against Missouri: 35 of 48, 448 yards, 3 TDs, 2 Ints., 1 rushing TD

Next Opponent: Ball State

Season: 88 for 122, 72.1%, 1,022 yards, 5 TDs, 4 Ints., 149.46 rating, 2 rushing TDs

7. Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan – Robinson is starting to rev up his rushing yardage, averaging 199 yards his past two games. It could be that he challenges for the 2,000 yard mark, but most likely he’ll taper off a bit. He also needs to improve his passing numbers. However, if he can lead Michigan to 10 wins or better, he has a chance to make a serious Heisman run.

Last Week against San Diego State: 21 carries, 200 yards, 3 TDs, 8 of 17, 93 yards, 2 Ints.

Next Opponent: Minnesota

Season: 71 carries, 552 yards, 7.7 ypc, 5 TDs, 35 of 72, 48.6%, 624 yards, 6 TDs, 6 Ints., 132 rating

8. Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin — Wilson has been brilliant so far and he’s second nationally in passing efficiency, but we’ll see how legit his Heisman hopes are this week against Nebraska. If he can lead the Badgers to a win here, it could be a special season in Madison.

Last Week against South Dakota: 19 of 25, 345 yards, 3 TDs

Next Opponent: Nebraska

Season: 69 of 91, 75.8%, 1,136 yards, 11 TDs, 1 Int., 218.38 rating, 108 rushing yards, 1 TD

9. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson – Boyd is the ‘it’ quarterback on the ‘it’ team right now. He is off to a fabulous start and the Tigers have beaten two consecutive ranked teams. This might be the best Clemson team since 1981 and Boyd is a big reason for it. If he plays well in a win over Va. Tech, he’s a legit candidate.

Last Week against FSU: 22 of 35, 344 yards, 3 TDs, 16 carries, 19 rushing yards, 1 TD

Next Opponent: Virginia Tech

Season: 90 of 136, 66.2%, 1,255 yards, 13 TDs, 1 Int., 51 rushing yards, 2 TDs

About Heismanpundit

Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of Heismanpundit.com, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.

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28 Responses to The HP Heisman Watch, Week 4

  1. Goducks September 27, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

    No love for LaMichael James… He only leads the nation in rushing & is on pace for 2000 yards & 20+ touchdowns

  2. Heismanpundit September 27, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

    Voters realize he has piled up yards against bad defenses and that he has looked bad against teams like Auburn and LSU. They are waiting to be convinced that he is worthy of consideration and it will take more than piling up big numbers against bad competition.

    • Nate September 27, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

      Bad competition? I didn’t realize South Carolina’s body of work was so much better than Oregon’s. Just FYI, it’s not. S.C. hasn’t faced a top 5 team….not even a ranked team! LMJ would have better #s against S.C.’s opponents thus far. S.C. beat a mediocre Georgia team by 3, a mediocre Navy by 3, and then Vandy by 17. LMJ’s numbers are better in EVERY category and actually has stats in categories that Marcus doesn’t. LMJ is the better overall back. The SEC bias is sickening. After LMJ puts up big #s against Cal’s #13 rush defense next week, I would hope you would have him at #2 instead of Latimore or you will really lack any credibility. Don’t forget, even Mark Ingram had a crappy game against Auburn in 2009 (30 yards on 16 carries! – a lot worse than James’ performance against LSU), and still won it.

      • Heisman Pundit September 27, 2011 at 5:06 pm #

        You fundamentally misunderstand the point of this list.

        This list is not my opinion on who is the most deserving. It is my gauge of who stands the best chance of actually winning based on what the Heisman electorate generally looks for during the race.

        As for James, all the voters care about right now is that he didn’t do anything in the big spotlight game against LSU. The 488 yards he has put up the last two weeks have come against SW Mizzou State and a team whose rush defense is currently 114th nationally.

        Regardless, seems silly to quote rushing defense rankings for teams that Oregon won’t play until November.

        • Hawkinsob September 27, 2011 at 6:20 pm #

          Nate, I agree that James is getting punished to an irrational degree for having a so-so outing against probably the best defense in the country in the opening game. But Heismanpundit is making an important distinction here (which I didn’t realize at first, since I’m new to viewing the site). He’s not picking who SHOULD win it, he’s giving his estimation of who the voters at the moment are inclined to vote for (biases, irrationality and all). I certainly don’t think James going 54 yds on 18 carries against maybe the top defense around is somehow worse than Trent Richardson going for 37 yds on 13 carries against Kent State. In fact, I think its better. But the fact is, this big-game-spotlight thing, flawed as it may be, is real. At least for now, that is sticking in some voter’s minds. The last few weeks have dug James out of the hole a little, and I’m guessing he crawls back up the list as the season goes on. He’s got slightly more yardage right now in 65 carries than Lattimore has in 107 carries (9.4 per carry vs. 5.7), and he’s already faced an LSU defense that’s probably better than Lattimore will face all year. He seems to be picking up steam and while he probably won’t win it, I think he’ll creep back up the watch lists.

        • FBC fan September 28, 2011 at 6:47 am #

          It’s funny how selective people’s memories can be. James looked bad because he had “only” 54 rushing yards and a touchdown on 18 carries against what is arguably the best defense in the land? What about if you toss in his six receptions for 61 yards; does he still look “bad” then? Add in his kickoff return and look at the total of 132 all-purpose yards; still bad? If the voters truly viewed that game as James having done “nothing,” as you said, then I’m thinking they’re not paying close enough attention.

          • Heismanpundit September 28, 2011 at 3:50 pm #

            FBC, voters saw Oregon get easily handled by LSU and part of that was containing James. No, getting 6 catches for 61 yards in addition to 18 carries for 54 yards (with no play longer than 16 yards) is not a good game for someone who is supposed to be an elite and game-breaking player and who led the nation in rushing last year as part of the nation’s leading offense. That’s 24 touches for 115 yards, if you are keeping score at home, or less than 5 yards per touch. Furthermore, how many of those yards were gotten well after the game was already well in hand? He had 36 yards rushing heading into the fourth quarter when the Ducks were down 20 and the game was basically over. Voters aren’t always paying close attention but they aren’t all dumb either and they understand that James was basically a non-factor in the game that could probably cost Oregon a shot at the national title.

        • Nate September 28, 2011 at 8:38 am #

          Sorry to go off on you. I do understand the point of this list. It’s to clearly show what everyone already knows: that the SEC bias is alive and well.

          • Heismanpundit September 28, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

            Nate, that’s a bit silly when you consider that the leading candidate is from the Pac-12 and the No. 3 guy is from the MWC.

        • Nate September 28, 2011 at 8:58 am #

          “Regardless, seems silly to quote rushing defense rankings for teams that Oregon won’t play until November.”

          ===========

          Probably, but they do play Cal’s #13 run defense that should still be ranked about the same when they play Oregon on Oct 6th. Let me know when Latimore plays against one in the top 25.

      • Jim Gore September 28, 2011 at 7:43 pm #

        Then Ingram gutted Florida in the SEC Championship. The number 1 team in the nation (at that time.) So there’s that.

  3. Hawkinsob September 27, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

    I understand your point about James Heismanpundit, but on the other hand, you have Lattimore all the way up at #2 when he was “contained by the VANDERBILT defense”? So you’re going to condemn James for being contained by the LSU defense but forgive Lattimore for being contained by the VANDERBILT defense…..hmmmm.

  4. Heismanpundit September 27, 2011 at 2:22 pm #

    James is a known product. Everyone had their eyes on him against LSU and he bombed.

    Lattimore is emerging as a player and games like the one against Vandy aren’t as important in the scheme of things, just like LaMichael’s relatively quiet rushing total against Nevada didn’t mean much either.

  5. Trickster September 27, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

    Keeping my promise to post “Not Luck” every week until he does something to deserve consideration.

    Luck is 12th in the nation in pass efficiency. A pretty good stat.

    He is 30th in passing yardage per game and 31st in total offense per game. Decent.

    Stanford is tied for the 72nd-toughest schedule. That brings those stats down a bit.

    Overall, this is not a Heisman portfolio. Yeah, he was really good last year, but the 2010 Heisman has already been awarded. Of course the deal is not done, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising if Luck eventually becomes a deserving candidate. But he isn’t as of now.

    • Heisman Pundit September 27, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

      No one has a Heisman portfolio after three games and no one is claiming that Luck should win the Heisman based on a three-game season.

      This list projects out over the course of the season which player has the best chance of winning.

      • Trickster September 28, 2011 at 9:27 am #

        I understand your point of view, but I have a different one.

        The Heisman race has been repeatedly badly warped by pundits being too fond of their pre-season predictions. Pre-season expectations should be just for pre-season conversation starters and should carry virtually no weight once the season starts.

        (The same is true of the polls, but that’s not quite as bad–polls get so much attention that the truth gets sorted out. Kind of.)

        If ignoring pre-season expectations means that who is leading right now swings around wildly the first few weeks, so be it. It SHOULD swing around wildly most years.

        A few guys have had great starts to their season. Andrew Luck is not one of them, and the focus should not be on him for the 2011 Heisman simply because he was good in 2010. He has plenty of visibility and plays QB for a high-ranked team, and certainly has not played himself out of contention, so if he starts putting up Heisman-like stats he should shoot up the list.

  6. Nate September 27, 2011 at 4:15 pm #

    To not have LMJ on here is just ridiculous, really. I will enjoy watching you eat your words as the season progresses.

    • Heisman Pundit September 27, 2011 at 5:10 pm #

      Nate, when James does not win the Heisman, I’ll provide the ketchup for your word meal.

      • Nate September 28, 2011 at 8:43 am #

        I never said James would win the Heisman. My point is that he should be on this list….period. He has a better chance at winning it than most on this list, despite the “slow” start.

  7. Nate September 27, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

    I find it interesting that James is getting dinged for Oregon’s schedule yet, as of now, Oregon will face 3 teams with Top 15 rushing defenses, including #1 and #4, all the while S.C. (Latimore) will face just 1 (Florida @ #5). If James ends up with equal or better #s to Latimore, he has to be considered and listed above him. No ifs ands or buts. My guess is that he will. Not only better rushing #s but better All-Purpose #s (James does more for his team as well, which needs to be taken into consideration by anyone worth their weight.

  8. Brent September 27, 2011 at 7:19 pm #

    You guys dont understand. This list is a prospective based on what these players have done thus far and what they are likely to do for the rest of the season.
    James not being on this list doesnt mean he doesnt make a trip to NYC. It only means that he has no chance of winning the Heisman. He can be 2nd and not on this list, he just wont win.
    If you doubt the accuracy of this list then look back over the years and see how often the eventual winner didnt make these early lists at all.
    Barring the nutty season of 2007 that resulted in the crashing of one of the Heismandments I think you’ll find his lists to be accurate, even early in the season. Maybe every one on the stage didn’t make the list, but the winner did.
    That said… With the expectations that James brought into this season, his Heisman hopes took a crashing burn by him not showing up against LSU. End of story. Without a total reset (like we had in 2007, leading to a Sophomore winner and a 2 loss national champion) James is now out of contention, though he may finish second, again.

  9. Bill September 28, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    No love for Brandon Weeden, the guy leading the nation in passing yard?

  10. Jeff September 28, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

    Q: Do you think the fact that everyone back east is asleep while LaMichael is running roughshod over the competition has anything to do with it? I know Luck is in the same time zone, but Oregon tends to play more night games than Stanford (not a rhetorical question, by the way. I would like to know your thoughts on the whole “time zone factor” discussion). I think James is the best RB in the country, but I also understand that isn’t what this list is about.

    Oh, and ditto what Bill said about Weeden. Hell, Blackmon should be in the conversation as well. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more dominant receiver in college.

  11. Heismanpundit September 28, 2011 at 6:21 pm #

    Jeff (and Bill): I don’t think time zones are really an issue. Everyone knows that LMJ and Luck are great players.

    The issue with James is merely that everyone thought he (and his team) would look a whole lot better against LSU and, instead, the Ducks laid an egg. If LSU and Oregon met again for a game, the spread would be considerable in favor of LSU based on the current perception. That same perception is hurting LMJ’s Heisman hopes.

    As for Weedon, lots of yards, but voters prefer touchdowns and efficiency to pure yardage. Also, Blackmon may be great, but guys like Crabtree in recent years have been just as impressive. He’ll have to do a lot to repeat what he did last year and, to this point, it looks unlikely.

  12. Nate October 1, 2011 at 9:14 pm #

    Well, it looks like you can remove Lattimore from your list now, huh?

  13. CM October 2, 2011 at 8:06 am #

    Andrew Luck gets the benefit of playing against the same bad defenses James and Oregon do…except Oregon got LSU and ran into big boy football.

    Luck and Moore are good QBs…but they just don’t face bigtime defenses outside of maybe once all season, if that.

    Trent Richardson just went nuts against Florida in the Swamp…Luck and Moore would pee in their pants in that atmosphere (I jest…kinda). TR is THE BEAST and should be the Heisman front-runner.

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