Time for a look at week seven of the 2011 Heisman race.
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 from the Heisman electorate, just not enough to actually win it.
Remember, this is my own analysis of how I believe the race is, not how it should be. From how I see things at the halfway point of the season, there are only FIVE players who stand a legitimate chance of winning the 2011 Heisman Trophy. I truly believe one of these five players will be the guy:
1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford – It’s been a relative breeze so far for Luck, but now he will be put to the test as Stanford begins to enter into the meat of its schedule. He has handled all the pressure of being the front runner with characteristic cool and has performed very well so far. The hype surrounding him has been steady but not overbearing and, as yet, I can discern no backlash against him (which is often a problem for the preseason favorite). Can he keep it up into the second half of the season? If so, he’ll win Stanford’s second Heisman.
Last Week against Washington State: 23 of 36, 336 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT
Next Opponent: Washington
Season: 129 of 181, 1,719 yards, 71.3%, 18 TDs, 3 Ints., 180.55 rating
2. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama – Richardson’s monster game against Mississippi–along with that nifty 76-yard touchdown run–could turn out to be the catalyst for a second-half surge to the Heisman. So far, he’s been outstanding, notching six 100-yard games while scoring 16 total touchdowns. As long as he stays healthy, it looks like the numbers will be there for him. Furthermore, the LSU game will provide the perfect setting–perhaps the only setting–to enable him to catapult over an otherwise-high-performing Luck and into the lead for the trophy. Will the Heisman stay in the state of Alabama for the third year in a row?
Last Week against Mississippi: 17 carries for 183 yards, 4 TDs, 2 catches, 30 yards
Next Opponent: Tennessee
Season: 132 carries, 912 yards, 6.91 ypc, 15 TDs, 15 catches, 179 yards, 1 TD
3. Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin — The constraints of the Wisconsin system when it comes to quarterback play were on display in the blowout win over Indiana, as Wilson was relatively quiet compared to previous games. Wisconsin didn’t really need him to do too much, so he played an efficient, understated game. He did catch a touchdown pass, though, which naturally made the late-night highlight reels. Dropping him to third here is less a reflection on what he did (or didn’t do) and more a testament to the strength of Richardson. A big game against Michigan State this week, however, could serve to reshuffle the race.
Last Week against Indiana: 12 of 17, 166 yards, 1 TD, 42 yards rushing, 1 TD catch
Next Opponent: Michigan State
Season: 95 of 128, 74.2%, 1,557 yards, 14 TDs, 1 INT, 210.94 rating, 24 carries, 182 yards, 2 TDs
4. Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma – When I look at Jones compared to the other four candidates in this race, I don’t see him as being on the same level. However, he is an outstanding quarterback for a national title contending team that just so happens to be a preeminent Heisman power. Jones will be in several high-profile games in the last half of the season, which means he has a chance to get on a roll and show voters that he is worthy of the trophy. If OU goes undefeated and Jones’ stats are impressive, he could win this if Luck and Richardson (or their teams) fall by the wayside.
Last Week against Kansas: 29 of 48, 363 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
Next Opponent: Texas Tech
Season: 171 of 253, 67.6%, 2,177 yards, 16 TDs, 6 INTs, 156.00 rating
5. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor – The power of Griffin III is in his numbers. They are currently better than anyone else’s in the race. He has the potential to break several NCAA records, including the marks for pass efficiency and completion percentage. As long as his numbers remain above and beyond all the other candidates and Baylor goes on to have at least an 8 or 9 win season, then he’s got a chance to finish on top if some of the other players ahead of him falter. If Griffin III’s numbers fall back down to earth in the second half of the season, he’ll have zero chance to win. But if he can keep up this incredible pace while also acting as a giant slayer against an Oklahoma or Oklahoma State, look out.
Last Week againstTexas A&M: 28 of 40, 430 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
Next Opponent: Oklahoma State
Season: 143 of 183, 78.1%, 1,950 yards, 22 TDs, 2 INT, 205.13 rating, 72 carries, 295 yards, 2 TDs
If the vote were held today
1. Andrew Luck
2. Trent Richardson
3. Russell Wilson
4. Robert Griffin III
5. Kellen Moore
6. Landry Jones
7. Brandon Weeden
8. Tyrann Mathieu
9. Case Keenum
10. Tajh Boyd