What I saw in week seven, plus some mid-season awards:
The Big Winner
– Trent Richardson has begun to make his move for the Heisman after ripping Ole Miss for 183 yards and 4 TDs. The schedule sets up nicely for Richardson, as he gets a monster matchup with No. 1 LSU in three weeks and then can look forward to closing out the season with high profile games against Auburn and (potentially) against the SEC East champ in the SEC title game. Obviously, beating LSU is paramount, as it gives him a 13th regular season game to accumulate stats and to impress the voters.
– Andrew Luck started out slow but closed fast, throwing for 336 yards and 4 TDs (with one pick) against Washington State. I expect he’ll remain comfortably on top of the Heisman race for now, though there is potential for some road blocks ahead on the schedule as he plays No. 22 Washington and then USC in the next two weeks.
– Russell Wilson had a quiet week with just 166 yards and a touchdown against Indiana. He did, however, catch a TD pass and, naturally, that made all the highlight reels. I expect he’ll remain in the top three of the race for the time being, but sometimes the constraints of the Wisconsin system is going to result in games like this one. The key to his Heisman hopes may lie in the next two weeks when Wisconsin takes on No. 16 Michigan State and Ohio State.
– Even though Baylor lost, I don’t think Robert Griffin III will lose too much ground in the race after throwing for 430 yards and 3 TDs against Texas A&M. Essentially, his is a numbers candidacy. As long as his statistics retain their majesty in comparison to the rest of the field, he’ll be a factor. Too bad Baylor doesn’t have a defense.
– All people will see is the box score, but Oklahoma had to work hard to make it look easy against Kansas. Landry Jones had 363 yards and 3 TDs (with an interception) and he remains the candidate with the most late-season potential. He’s like the race horse that sits back in the pack, waiting to make his move. He’ll get plenty of opportunities, with games against Kansas State, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State still to come. Too bad that Big 12 title game isn’t there to give him an extra chance to impress voters.
Down for the Count
– Time to turn the lights out on the Denard Robinson for Heisman campaign. It’s not just that his team lost, it’s that he didn’t look good in the process. If he rebounds the rest of the way and leads Michigan to a fine season, I think he can get his share of votes, but I don’t believe he can win.
– Obviously Marcus Lattimore’s injury could end up costing a lot more than the Heisman, as his loss puts a real crimp in South Carolina’s season. He’ll be back next year and will likely feature prominently in preseason Heisman talk.
Random Note and Observations
We are half way through the season so I thought I’d give some shout outs:
Best Team — Alabama
I don’t think this one is close. As good as LSU’s defense is, I think the Tide are better. This could end up being one of the top defenses in the history of college football before it’s through. And having Trent Richardson on the other side of the ball helps, too.
Best Player — Robert Griffin III, Baylor
Griffin has been incredible so far this season. His accuracy as a passer is scary and he has the arm strength to make every throw imaginable. Add in his overall football intelligence, his leadership, his coolness under pressure and his running ability and you have what I consider to be a near-perfect quarterback. This season, he’s on pace to throw for 3,900 yards and 44 TDs with just 4 interceptions. As good as some other players have been, he’s been better.
Top Defender — Tyrann Mathieu, LSU
It’s rare for a defensive player to make so many game-changing plays the way Mathieu has so far this season. He’s recovered 3 fumbles, forced another 4 and intercepted 2 passes (and broken up 5 more). He is second on LSU in tackles with 42 and also has 5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. He’s also scored 2 TDs. For most defenders, this is a good season, but he’s done it in seven games. What’s more, he’s the heart and soul of a great defense and you know if a play has to be made, he’ll make it.
Best Freshman — Sammy Watkins, Clemson
Watkins might be the best freshman receiver I’ve seen in a long, long time. He’s not only a physical specimen who can stretch the field, but also a natural receiver with soft hands and excellent timing. To date, he’s got 46 catches for 728 yards and 8 scores. He’s also rushed for 127 yards and is averaging nearly 31 yards per kick return (with one score). He is ninth nationally in all-purpose yards per game. This guy is special and I look forward to watching him in the coming years.