Time for a look at the 2011 Heisman race after eight weeks of football.
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 FOUR players who stand a legitimate chance of winning the 2011 Heisman Trophy. I truly believe one of these four players will be the guy:
1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford – He didn’t have to do too much last week against Washington, as the Cardinal ran for 446 yards. He was his typical efficient self, but the biggest boon to his Heisman hopes came from what resulted in East Lansing and Norman. Until he falters, he’s the overwhelming favorite to win the Heisman. He’s got another chance to light things up against a ranked USC team this week and ESPN Game Day will be on hand to hype him up.
Last Week against Washington: 16 of 21, 169 yards, 2 TDs, 3 carries, 23 yards
Next Opponent: USC
Season: 145 of 202, 1,888 yards, 71.8%, 20 TDs, 3 Ints., 179.99 rating
2. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama – Richardson rushed for just 77 yards against Tennessee, but he did score two touchdowns and added another 33 yards on 3 receptions. His status in the Heisman race is in a holding pattern until the big Nov. 5 showdown with LSU. If he comes through big in that game, then we’ll have a serious race to the finish between Luck and Richardson. If not, then Luck will likely coast to the award.
Last Week vs. Tennessee: 17 carries for 77 yards, 2 TDs, 3 catches, 33 yards
Next Opponent: LSU on Nov. 5
Season: 149 carries, 989 yards, 6.64 ypc, 17 TDs, 18 receptions, 212 yards, 1 TD
3. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor – Griffin was off last week and this week he’ll have a huge chance to improve his position in the Heisman race when his team faces No. 3 Oklahoma State. If the Baylor defense can somehow step it up and give him some kind of cushion to do his thing, then maybe he can pull the upset. And, in that circumstance, he’d make a big move in the Heisman race. But, most likely, he’ll once again put up impressive numbers in a loss and voters will have to weigh his overall performance against that of his team’s.
Last Week: Bye
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
4. Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin – Wilson’s Heisman hopes are not dead, but they are on life support. The main rationale for his candidacy was that he was the guy who was going to take Wisconsin to the next level. On top of that, he was also putting up fantastic numbers. Well, Wisconsin went to the Rose Bowl last year and finished 11-1 in the regular season so, as it turns out, he’s not going to end up improving upon that record. However, if he can bring Wisconsin back to win the Big Ten title while maintaining his NCAA-record pass efficiency pace, then he can win the Heisman if Luck and Richardson mess up. While Ohio State isn’t the team it used to be, winning at the Horseshoe could still be a boon to his candidacy.
Last Week against Michigan State: 14 of 21, 223 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs, 8 carries, 30 yards, 1 TD
Next Opponent: Ohio State
Season: 109 of 149, 73.2%, 1,780 yards, 16 TDs, 3 INT, 204.91 rating, 32 carries, 212 yards, 3 TDs
If the vote were held today
1. Andrew Luck
2. Trent Richardson
3. Robert Griffin III
4. Kellen Moore
5. Russell Wilson
6. Case Keenum
7. Landry Jones
8. Brandon Weeden
9. Tajh Boyd
10. Sammy Watkins