The HP Heisman Watch, Week 11

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

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Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of, 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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9 Responses to The HP Heisman Watch, Week 11

  1. Cowboy_KS November 14, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

    Has anyone thought that Luck’s NBA sized receiving corp might be part of his passing success. How can he not have a +80% completion rating (which he doesn’t) when he is throwing to SEVEN receivers that are 6’4″ or taller. Three are 6’6″ or taller.

    • Trickster November 15, 2011 at 10:00 am #

      I think a lot of people get confused between the concepts of “tall receiver” and “good receiver.” So I’m not really buying your argument.

      A better argument is that Luck’s passing stats aren’t really all that fancy when you consider what an extremely light schedule Stanford has played. Even AFTER the Oregon game, Stanford’s schedule so far is ranked the 88th-toughest by the official NCAA stats. 5th in passing efficiency and 19th in yardage against an extremely weak schedule is, well, decent but not much more. His team has played two opponents with a pulse and he had four turnovers, several sacks, and two pick sixes against them.

  2. Heismanpundit November 14, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

    There’s more to being a receiver than just being tall. Most tall guys don’t have the ability to separate.

    I’m not sure you’ve seen many Stanford games. Their primary receivers are (1) Griff Whalen, a 6-1 former walk on (2) Coby Fleener, a 6-4 TE and (3) Chris Owusu, a 6-2 WR who is always hurt.

    The impressive thing about Luck’s numbers is that he really has limited talent to throw to. Certainly no one close to the level of Justin Blackmon, or even Josh Cooper.

  3. Travis November 14, 2011 at 3:37 pm #

    Luck may not have a Blackmon to throw to but he has the benefit one of the best rushing attacks supporting him. He is consistently able to work off this team strength with play action/ one on one coverage.

  4. mr. bamboosaul November 14, 2011 at 7:39 pm #

    i would lov 2 c luck b drafted by america’s team after winning the heisman trophy

  5. Robert Clark November 15, 2011 at 5:42 am #

    Watch Case Keenum. Houston will have to muster all their offensive talents for FOUR quarters to beat their next three opponents (SMU, Tulsa & Southern Miss). The results will likely showcase his real talents and the voters can decide accordingly if he is the best college player this year. If he lights it up he will be deserving, if he is just so-so, someone else will deserve it more.

  6. Cowboy_KS November 15, 2011 at 5:56 am #

    HP – This might be the tallest receiving group in the history of college football. Double check Fleener’s height. Stanford claims he is 6’6″. Here is what Stanford has their receivers listed at, in order of receiving yards:
    – Whalen – 6’1″
    – Fleener – 6’6″
    – Owusu – 6’2″
    – Ertz – 6’6″
    – Toilolo – 6’8″
    – Hewitt – 6’4″

    Weeden’s #10 receiver TE/FB Horton is the first to break 6’1″…

  7. tom4tide November 15, 2011 at 8:37 am #

    Really a shame that voters and public alike are attracted to candidates who amass big numbers, very often against lacklustre competition and weaker teams. That tactic proves nothing except a lack of class by coaches who permit it to happen. In the SEC, a tough schedule every week, coaches usually remember that they were once on the short side of those massacres. The occasional exceptions are coaches Petrino and Spurrier. It’s a coaches way of showing professional courtesy and the foremost practitioner was the greatest college football coach ever–Paul W. Bryant. In following his teams for all 23 years of his career at UA, I never saw him once deliberately run up the score against an outmanned opponent. If Trent Richardson does win the Heisman if will be because he earned it by facing defenses designed to stop him. Not only is Richardson a great player, he is an even better person.

  8. Trickster November 15, 2011 at 9:39 am #

    What exactly has Luck done this year? What was his great game? His single-handed win? His fancy stat line? His signature moment? Is he going to win the Heisman because he made a nice catch on a QB-eligible sideline pass?

    Somebody help me here.

    Nobody’s running away with the Heisman, but using the traditional metrics of big stats plus playing for a championship contender, Luck should barely be top 10. I’d say:

    – Moore – fantastic stats capping off an unbelievable career, team has 1 1-point loss against a moderately difficult schedule – should arguably be going for his 3rd straight Heisman, but most likely he is going to get robbed once again
    – Richardson – gets the best player on the best team vote since there are no legit candidates from LSU; has the most spectacular plays of anybody on the list; lots of TDs, excellent yards per carry
    – Weedon – a system guy with too many picks, but he’s the QB of the #2 team, undefeated, and has big numbers overall; will finish on the big stage, and can win it there
    – Wilson – leads the nation in passing efficiency, and his team only has two fluke losses – can run – should probably be ranked higher, but he’s getting no love from the media
    – Keenum – arcade stats, but the joke of a schedule assures that if he gets an invited to the DAC, it will only be to watch somebody else walk off with the hardware
    – James – missed games really hurt him, as did his legal troubles, but leads the nation in yards per game and plays for a contender
    – Griffin – 3rd in passing efficiency against the 19th-toughest schedule, and is also an excellent runner, but he plays on the wrong team
    Ok, and here I would have Luck and Montee Ball fighting for 8th place.
    Landry Jones is 15th in passing efficiency, but is a well-known name and has a big stage coming up in Stillwater and could play himself into it – he’s still getting ink, though he doesn’t really deserve it