The HP Heisman Watch, Week 10

Here’s a look at the state of the Heisman race after 10 weeks of football. Remember, this site analyzes the race the way it is, not how I think it should be.

So we are now oh, so close, to calling the race for the 2011 Heisman Trophy.

Stanford’s Andrew Luck entered the season as the favorite and he has maintained his status as the front runner by virtue of a couple things:

1. Very good statistical production. At his current pace–and assuming Stanford makes the Pac-12 title game–Luck will have 3,510 passing yards, with 38 TD passes and 7 interceptions by the time the Heisman votes are due. Add to that a high efficiency rating, a healthy 71.3 completion percentage and a couple hundred yards rushing (with probably another 3-4 TDs on the ground) and you’ve got the kind of season that is easily Heisman worthy, especially when you consider that Stanford’s offense is run-oriented (Luck is 49th nationally in pass attempts). Is this a season for the ages, in the vein of what Tim Tebow did in 2007 or what Sam Bradford did in 2008? Probably not, but it would be in the top 10% of great seasons by a Heisman-winning quarterback.

2. His team is winning. Not many people expected Stanford to go undefeated and it could be that the Cardinal will not get there in the end. But Stanford has the nation’s longest winning streak at 17 and has won 21 of its past 22. Furthermore, it has beaten 11 of its past 12 opponents (and 13 of 15) by 25 points or more. So Stanford is on quite a dominant roll and Luck is (rightfully) seen as the catalyst for this.

When you throw in all the other intangibles that govern how voters see a Heisman candidate, Luck’s position looks impregnable in this year’s race. There is no worry out there that he is going to be a bust in the NFL. On the contrary, he’s being touted as one of the best quarterbacks to come out of college in a long, long time. He also comes from a school that has a great quarterback tradition and he is seen as the latest in that line. Factor in his likability and intelligence in his media appearances and you have a player to whom few voters will object.

As a result, I believe Luck is going to win this year’s Heisman Trophy and that it probably won’t be close.

So why won’t I call the race?

Normally I would’ve by now, but I still want to hold off until I see what happens this Saturday in the Oregon-Stanford game. Stranger things have happened in this sport and it doesn’t hurt to hold off for another week.

What scenarios are out there that would enable another player to win the Heisman?  Here they are:

1. Luck plays horribly in a loss to Oregon and then lays another egg in the season finale against Notre Dame. I believe Luck can survive a loss to Oregon and still win the Heisman handily. But two losses at this stage in the season would dilute his support considerably. He could still win, but it would depend on what his competition did.

2. Along with Luck playing poorly, several other candidates would have to step up:

Trent Richardson would have to close the season in a big way, with something like three 200-yard games and 8-9 more touchdowns.

Kellen Moore and Case Keenum would both have to lead their teams to undefeated seasons and finish with out-of-this-world stats. They’d probably have to break the single-season passer rating and completion percentage marks, which are both within their reaches.

Brandon Weeden would have to go on a tear the rest of the way and finish things off with a huge game in a win over Oklahoma.

Obviously, a lot has to happen for Luck to lose this award. I don’t consider it outside the realm of possibility, but I try to deal with likelihoods on this site.

Barring some variation of all this happening, Luck’s going to win. If he comports himself well against Oregon, the trophy is his, win or lose.

And I’ll be the first to call it here.

If the vote was held today

1. Andrew Luck

2. Kellen Moore

3. Trent Richardson

4. Case Keenum

5. Brandon Weeden

6. Landry Jones

7. Russell Wilson

8. Matt Barkley

9. Sammy Watkins

10. LaMichael James

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.

6 Responses to The HP Heisman Watch, Week 10

  1. Richard Mansel November 8, 2011 at 12:38 pm #

    Trent had 162 total yards against the # 1 team. Who else on the list has an accomplishment like that?

  2. Heismanpundit November 8, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    As a running back, he had 89 yards rushing on 23 carries (less than 4 ypc) and didn’t score a TD and his team lost.

    It was a solid performance, but not enough to justify winning the Heisman. At the end of the day, it’s about your season’s body of work, not just one game.

    • b December 4, 2011 at 4:20 am #

      he did score a td , just not a rushing td

  3. CM November 9, 2011 at 6:56 am #

    I agree…Trent had nearly 200 total yards in the LSU game, but losing is losing. It hurt him…no doubt. If he could have broke off a 50 yard TD run that won the game in the 4th quarter…then I’d be saying he should be the leader…as it is, can’t argue with Luck. But if Luck goes out and throws a couple of INTs and Stanford loses to Oregon badly in the first real test of the season for Stanford (how far into the season are we?), then I think it opens things back up for Richardson…IF he has huge games in these last 3 games for Bama…two being on national tv. I don’t think it would have to be 200 yards rushing per game…but it would need to be close…plus 5-6 TDs in that span.

    Right now, I’d go:

    1. Luck
    2. Richardson
    3. Moore

    Moore gets the invite to NY for basically a career achievement…much like Keenum, the competition just isn’t there to make gawdy stats THAT impressive. Did Timmy Chang even get invited to the Heisman ceremony? Same deal. If Weeden leads Ok St to an undefeated season, then I’d have no problem bumping Moore out and putting him at #3. I still think Trent Richardson is the best pure football player in America though. He may have to settle for being a Heisman finalist and the Doak Walker Award winner. Like you said, we’ll know Sat around midnight.

    • b December 4, 2011 at 4:19 am #

      everyone you mentioned lost

  4. Richard Mansel November 9, 2011 at 1:14 pm #

    Sadly, the Bama coaching staff lost their nerve or Trent would have had more yards.