I covered most of the ins and outs of the Heisman race in this post, so this week’s Watch will have a different flavor than usual.
The main thing I want to talk about, though, is the structure of the balloting and why I think it favors Luck.
There are six Heisman voting regions with 145 votes each: The Far West, the MidWest, the SouthWest, the South, the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast. There is also what amounts to a seventh region–the former winners–totaling 55 votes.
Luck obviously has a clear advantage in the Far West. I believe he’ll also be strong in the MidWest as it was his second-strongest region last year and he’ll have a chance to impress voters there by finishing up against Notre Dame. His third-best region last year was the Mid-Atlantic, and that was before Stanford’s romp over Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl.
The Northeast is often the only region without a clear dog in the hunt and that is also the case this year. It is a region that loves its NFL football and Luck’s status as the future No. 1 pick will help him there.
In other words, Luck’s reputation and name recognition makes him an attractive option throughout most of the regions and this will help him in the balloting.
On the other hand, some of the other candidates might be a bit hamstrung.
Brandon Weeden, for instance, comes from the Southwest region, which also includes candidates Robert Griffin III, Case Keenum, Landry Jones and a fast-rising Collin Klein.
It was the splitting of votes in the Southwest in 2009 that most likely cost Colt McCoy the Heisman Trophy, as Ndamukong Suh won that region solidly.
The danger for Weeden is that he doesn’t get enough of a boost from his home region to overcome Luck’s national brand.
The same problem does not apply to Trent Richardson, who should dominate the South and do well in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. But he’ll have major issues in the Southwest, West and MidWest, which tends to prefer Big 12 candidates over the SEC ones.
The two remaining games will clear more of this up, but do you understand now why Luck is still the leader at this point? It’s akin to a Presidential candidate who has an advantage in the electoral college even if he’s not doing that well in the polls. Until Weeden or Richardson or someone else can build a case for the Heisman that reaches across the regions, he’s the favorite.
If the vote was held today
1. Andrew Luck
2. Brandon Weeden
3. Trent Richardson
4. Case Keenum
5. Kellen Moore
6. LaMichael James
7. Landry Jones
8. Robert Griffin III
9. Russell Wilson
10. Collin Klein