Is It Time To Call The Heisman Race?

When Andrew Luck got off to a sluggish start against Oregon State, it looked like a crease was opening up in the Heisman race for Trent Richardson to squeeze on through.

After Alabama’s first series, I thought the Alabama running back was on his way to doing just that.

But, as it turned out, Luck rebounded for another solid statistical performance and Richardson was bottled up by LSU as his team lost a defensive slugfest.

And what looked like a very strong field of Heisman candidates just three or four weeks ago has been whittled away to near nothingness.

So who is left who can beat out Luck for the Heisman?

The loss by Alabama is devastating to Richardson’s Heisman hopes. Not only did he gain just 89 yards on 23 carries, he also lost out on that coveted SEC title game appearance that would’ve given him another chance to put up good numbers in a high profile game. As it now stands, he is on pace to have 1,438 rushing yards and 23 TDs at the time of the Heisman vote. Those are good numbers, but it won’t be enough to win the Heisman. Even if he goes on a tear the rest of the way, I think it will only be enough to get him to New York.

What about Kellen Moore? He is having yet another special season and just threw 5 touchdown passes in a win over UNLV. But while Heisman voters appreciate Moore’s brilliance, they remain unconvinced that he’s a better quarterback than Luck. Unfortunately for Moore, he won’t get the chance to prove himself against top flight competition the rest of the way, although a big performance in a win over TCU on Saturday could make him the likely runner up in the vote.

Case Keenum? His stats are also impressive and he just became the NCAA’s all-time passing leader. But he suffers from the same malady that afflicts Moore in this race–that lack of respect by the voters for his level of competition. However, I think that as other candidates fall by the wayside, his support is coalescing to the point where he may well make it to New York. And that’s not a bad accomplishment.

So again I ask: Who can, or will, beat Luck for the Heisman at this point?

No running back is putting up the numbers needed to post a challenge. Outside of Moore and Keenum, no other quarterback is seen as having a similar combination of statistical dominance and team success.

The only thing stopping me from calling the race for Luck right now is that Stanford’s game against Oregon has yet to be played. This will be next Saturday’s game of the day and all eyes will be on Luck to see if he can lead his team over its last major hurdle toward what could be an undefeated regular season.

Plain and simple: If Luck can survive that game, the Heisman is his.

And by ‘survive’, I don’t mean that his team merely has to win.  I mean that he just has to play well and not be seen as the reason his team lost. I believe voters are well prepared to give the Heisman to Luck even if Stanford does not go undefeated, especially with (as they see it) so few valid alternatives to Luck left in the race.

But if Luck plays poorly and Oregon whips Stanford as a result, I think voters will take a really hard look at those other alternatives. Luck will still be the favorite, but such a scenario will open the door for some other candidates to make a late bid.

So it’s not time to call the race just yet. But we are very, very close.

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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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16 Responses to Is It Time To Call The Heisman Race?

  1. Cowboy_KS November 6, 2011 at 5:57 pm #

    No mention of the QB for the #2 team in the country?
    Not ranked high enough? Not from a traditional “powerhouse”? Not enough ink about him in the press?

    • alex November 6, 2011 at 7:46 pm #

      he’s not the best player on his team…justin blackmon gets all the media for ok state and as long as a quarterback is throwing the ball to the best receiver in the country, his numbers will seem better because of the receiver and not the not the other way around.

    • Heismanpundit November 6, 2011 at 10:48 pm #

      Cowboy, the issue with Weeden is that voters really don’t know him well enough and, when it come to quarterbacks, they seem set on Luck. OK State should have a campaign to change that.

      • CowboyKS November 11, 2011 at 7:33 pm #

        Agree on the PR campaign. Ostate let JB get positioned as our HC last year and it’s impossible for a receiver to win.
        I’m still shocked that Heisman voters aren’t sophisticated enough to do their own research. Weeden has been a ruthless execution machine on the road embarrassing some very good defenses in critical situations. Game tape is not hard to find.

  2. AUman76 November 6, 2011 at 6:37 pm #

    Cowboy, he’s not on a media darling and that’s all there is to it. The Houston QB has great
    season and liftime stats as well but won’t sniff the trophy. Now you know what it’s like to be
    in the same state as bammer where most of the media is pro bammer and usually UA grads.
    Put your QB in the Chokelahoma red and he’s in the running with Luck. Please get rid of the ugly
    oregon knock off unis and go back to the sharp orange and white ones from the past.

  3. CM November 6, 2011 at 10:43 pm #

    Trent Richardson had 170 yards total from scrimmage vs LSU…he didn’t exactly have a bad game…throw in one kick return and he had about 200 yards total. Losing obviously hurts…but I still think TR is the “default” candidate if Luck trips up along the way. Bama is also still #3 in the BCS rankings…so they’re in the thick of things still…with a national ESPN game vs Miss State next weekend and the Iron Bowl vs Auburn at the end, which will be a national CBS telecast more than likely. But if Stanford wins out…Luck will win in a landslide and all the other candidates will just be invited for a nice dinner in NYC (probably Richardson and Moore as the finalists along with Luck).

  4. Heismanpundit November 6, 2011 at 10:50 pm #

    CM: The number that everyone looks at is the rushing total, and he had 89 yards on 23 carries and never got in the end zone against LSU.

    The problem with Richardson is that he just won’t have enough rushing yardage at the end of the season to impress enough voters, and part of that is due to not having that 13th game in the CCG.

    The best Richardson can do at this point, is make it to NYC, but he’ll have to REALLY turn it up a notch.

  5. CM November 7, 2011 at 7:02 am #

    I don’t think you can discount 80 receiving yards from Richardson…it shows his versatility. We always see the passing AND rushing yards for QBs. On ESPN and other places Richardson is still a solid #2 even after Bama lost. Moore plays no big national games to get any attention…but he’ll get an invite to NYC almost as a career achievement award. There will be at least 3 candidates invited…I find it hard to believe TR would not be one of those 3…granted, he needs some big games vs Miss St and Auburn to hope to challenge at all if Luck falters. I also think that it will take more than Stanford just losing a close game for Luck to not win it now…they either need to get blown out or Luck himself “loses” the game by throwing an INT or something. Point is…no one can “overtake” Luck now…he has to lose it himself.

    • Jason November 7, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

      CM – Those polls you are talking about (especially ESPN) have not been updated yet. The poll reads November 1. They are usually updated on Tuesday or Wednesday.

  6. ADP November 7, 2011 at 10:25 am #

    Speaking of Richardson and his perceived lack of production against LSU…remember the 2005 NC game of USC v. Texas when Reggie Bush went for 177 Rush/Rec and a TD plus 102 in returns (~280 total yards) and all everyone could talk about how he had such a bad game? Same deal. For a RB everyone keys on the rushing totals and rush TD’s.

  7. Earl November 7, 2011 at 11:10 am #

    Let’s see – your infinite wisdom says that 89 yards against the 2nd best defense in the country is a lousy performance. It is okay for these other players on these other teams to throw up gaudy numbers against teams that can’t hold back a high school team and they are now the greatest players in college football history. If several of the SEC backs were running against these teams they would have 200+ yards rushing a game. Although it was 89 “rushing” yards, several of the pass completions were basiclly the same as a rush. Why don’t you get out there and try and run against either LSU or Alabama’s defense if that is such an easy task?

    • Brionne November 10, 2011 at 5:57 pm #

      Earl, An Alabama back won the award two years ago. It is an uphill climb for an RB to win, so they really need that KEY win like Ingram’s. 89 Yards or 200 Yards, this is still Luck’s award. Third time’s a charm for Stanford after Back 2 Back runner ups. I personally like Keenum, but you don’t see many “Suck for Keenum” signs up at NFL games.

  8. rafterman November 10, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

    Kellen Moore should win the Heisman but probably won’t unless Luck stubs his toe in the Oregon game. Moore has more TD’s, a better completion ratio and fewer interceptions. Furthermore if you look at the body of work in Moore’s carreer he’s just a consistant winner, 4 years with a QB rating over 100, he’ll probably end up with 140 +/- TD’s and has only lost 2 games out of 48 to date. Luck couldn’t touch those numbers even if he came back for another year.

    • Trickster November 11, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

      Boise has played a significantly tougher schedule than Stanford at this point in the season.

      Further, although some people want to award it to Luck because they’re in love with him for coming back, what about Moore’s past accomplishments. He should arguably be going for his 3rd-straight Heisman, yet is still staring seriously uphill at a guy with worse stats against a lighter schedule.

  9. Trickster November 11, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    I would have Luck maybe 4th or 5th. He’s having a good season for an undefeated team: just not Heisman good.

    He is 5th in passing efficiency and 19th in passing yardage, despite playing against the 97th- (official NCAA ranking) or 73rd- (Sagarin ranking) toughest schedule. That’s just not Heisman-type numbers when there are people out there like Kelvin Moore, Brandon Weedon, Trent Richardson, Russell Wilson, and Robert Griffin.

    He should be a contender, but I find the idea that at this point in the season it is “his to lose” depressing. With him, it’s all about being ordained pre-season and not at all about anything he has done this year.

  10. Grizzly Gator November 13, 2011 at 11:35 am #

    Luck is being hyped up as being the next great pro QB. I would just like to see how he would do with a subpar offensive line.