That Crazy Heisman Race…

So after that crazy weekend, what does the Heisman race look like?

There’s a lot of data points to look at. Many of them involve players who will not get to New York or win the Heisman, but who may nonetheless play a part in how the race is decided.

Let’s look at what happened:

Brandon Weeden got knocked out of the race by virtue of his team’s loss to Iowa State. While he could still conceivably make it to New York, he’s not going to win.

Montee Ball of Wisconsin laid down his marker with a big game against Illinois. While I believe it is too late for Ball to make a serious run at the Heisman, he will get support in the Midwest, which means other players will be affected by getting knocked off ballots there. The player hurt the most by his emergence is fellow running back Trent Richardson. The last thing Richardson needed was another back with better numbers in this race.

Matt Barkley finally played well in a big win in front of a national audience and, while he’s also a longshot for New York, he’ll affect how the vote is structured out West, which could both strengthen and hurt Andrew Luck at the same time. We’ll go into detail about that later.

— Finally, the resurgence of Robert Griffin III is the biggest development from over the weekend. I was quite mistaken in not including Oklahoma-Baylor on my key games to watch for this weekend. I thought that Griffin III’s hopes at the Heisman were pretty much gone, but it looks like I was wrong. With his game against Oklahoma, he has sort of restructured the race. How much? I think we’ll know more in a couple days as voter sentiment trickles in. But, it couldn’t have happened at a better time for Griffin III, with Heisman ballots already mailed out.

This looks like one of those races where the winner will be determined by who can appear on the most ballots. From where things stand now, that means Luck still holds the advantage.

Looking at how some regions are affected:

Far West — The rise of Matt Barkley here will take a few first-place votes away from Luck, but it will also hurt those from other regions (like Richardson, Griffin III, etc.) who will be bumped off of ballots as a result. So Luck’s loss is also his gain.

Where it stands now: 1. Luck 2. Griffin III 3. Barkley

SouthWest — This region will be a mess. Griffin III, Keenum and Weeden will dominate the voting here, but Collin Klein, Justin Blackmon, Landry Jones and Ryan Broyles will also get some love. If I had to guess, Griffin III will win this region as a result of what he did over the weekend, but he’s still got two more games left to solidify things, or fall back down.

Where it stands now: 1. Robert Griffin III 2. Case Keenum 3. Brandon Weeden

MidWest — Up until the weekend, this region didn’t have a favorite son. Russell Wilson had fallen out of favor a bit, leaving the votes up for grabs. But Montee Ball is making a run at it and I think will keep some of the votes at home. Luck still has Notre Dame to play this week, so that will help him be a strong presence on a lot of ballots. My guess is that Luck and Griffin III will be the players from beyond this region who appear on the most ballots here.

Where it stands now: 1. Andrew Luck 2. Montee Ball 3. Robert Griffin III

South — Richardson still reigns supreme in this region and I think Griffin III has made inroads after the weekend. Where Luck and Keenum appears, it will most likely be down the ballot. Scattered support for Tyrann Mathieu, Michael Dyer, Aaron Murray and Joe Adams will prevent too many other outside players from gaining traction.

Where it stands now: 1. Richardson 2. Griffin III 3. Luck

Mid-Atlantic — Richardson has the slight edge here, but there will also be support for David Wilson, Sammy Watkins and Tajh Boyd. Luck should have a presence as well due to Stanford’s impressive win over Virginia Tech in the last Orange Bowl.

Where it stands now: 1. Richardson 2. Luck 3. Griffin III

Northeast — This could be the region that decides the Heisman. It has no dog in the hunt and, historically, it tends to go for the player who has the most buzz at the end of the season, which could help Ball, Barkley and, above all, Griffin III. This looks like a fight between Luck and Griffin III to me, with Richardson also in the mix.

Where it stands now: 1. Luck 2. Griffin III 3. Richardson

So, as you can see, the Heisman race is a bit of a jumble. There are still a couple games to go and you can be sure that this snapshot look will probably be obsolete next week.

But, if I had to guess the order of the vote right now, it would go:

1. Andrew Luck

2. Robert Griffin III

3. Trent Richardson

4. Case Keenum

5. Brandon Weeden

6. Matt Barkley

7. Montee Ball

8. Kellen Moore

9. Russell Wilson

10. David Wilson

Heading to New York: Luck, Griffin III, Richardson

We’ll obviously have a clearer look at things when the straw poll comes out this week. Stay tuned.

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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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8 Responses to That Crazy Heisman Race…

  1. JMB November 20, 2011 at 3:38 pm #

    I think if the final voting goes that way (which wouldn’t surprise me at all), Keenum will get an invite to New York as sort of a career achievement award.

  2. CM November 20, 2011 at 7:48 pm #

    RG III had a great game against OU, sure…but come on, Baylor also has THREE losses. Yes, he doesn’t play defense…but 3 losses are 3 losses. Andrew Luck is limping down the stretch…his one big national showcase against now 2 loss Oregon ended with a big, fat L. I still think Trent Richardson is the best player in the nation. The Iron Bowl is now set up as an even bigger national stage…ESPN Gameday will be there and it’ll get huge ratings with national attention…since most of the country will be pulling against Bama. It’ll be Richardson’s time to grab the award…150 yards plus a couple of TDs would make a strong statement while leading Bama to a NC game appearance.

    1. Trent Richardson
    2. Andrew Luck (may not even be the best Pac 12 QB after seeing Matt Barkley against Oregon…is that heresy to say?)
    3. RG III (has earned the trip to NYC…but 3 losses means he shouldn’t win the award)

    • Heismanpundit November 21, 2011 at 2:05 am #

      Tim Tebow had three losses, too. Don’t get too caught up in them.

      Losses can be overcome if the individual player exhibits enough excellence throughout the season, both statistically and in games like Baylor vs. Oklahoma.

  3. Trickster November 21, 2011 at 8:55 am #

    Griffin has had a great year against a tough schedule, and capped it off with a game for the ages on his biggest stage. The award should be his barring dramatic late developments.

    Trent Richardson and Kellen Moore are also legitimate candidates. Richardson does have one more chance to have a crazy game on national TV, but if he doesn’t take it, Griffin should win.

    I would list two Wisconsin guys, Ball and Wilson, but I think they’ll hurt each other and neither can beat those three.

    At this point, Andrew Luck would not even be a candidate for 3rd place on my ballot. Stanford’s schedule has been too weak, and Luck did not rise to the challenge when they played their only halfway-tough foes. He doesn’t have the stats and he doesn’t have the big wins. Heisman winners always have one or the other.

  4. harley spoon November 21, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

    A good analysis…If I had a vote, it would enthusiastically go to Griffin…He has done more on and off the field (for college football) with fewer hosses to work with than these other candidates…But he does have some great receivers….If Griffin wasn’t on the ballot, my vote would go to Luck…If they weren’t on the ballot, Keenam would get my vote…

  5. Barton Smith November 21, 2011 at 10:44 pm #

    Without Richardson, I think Bama would still be undefeated. (Their 2nd and 3rd string RBs would be starters for any of the other SEC schools.) Without Luck, Stanford would probably be 5-5. Without RGIII, Baylor would be fortunate to be 3-7. Without RGIII, Baylor-Oklahoma wouldn’t have even been on television.

  6. paynster November 22, 2011 at 9:57 am #

    Griffin along with his supporting cast has totally changed the landscape of Baylor Football. “The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work. ” If you agree with this statment Griffin should win hands down. College Graduate (Deans LIst), Two last minute combacks against top 20 teams combined with stats in one of the county’s toughest schedules.. He has passed for over 300 yards with runningbacks over 200 yards more than twice. Luck and Richarson are great athletes but Robert has shown that he has played the scheule to warrant the trophy. PLease note season record is not mentioned in the quote above which is The Heisman’s mission statement.

    • Trickster November 22, 2011 at 10:55 am #

      Heh. I’m with you on the vote for Griffin part, but the Heisman is given out on stats, playing for a contender, strength of schedule, and big performances on a big stage, not a bunch of vague platitudes. If they actually gave it out on the basis of that mission statement, how on earth would anyone ever justify their choice or prove to anyone else that it was a good choice?

      Griffin has played a very tough schedule, put up fantastic stats, and had his biggest performance on the biggest stage. That’s Heisman material, and I’m sure you can say it signifies “the pursuit of excellence with integrity,” but hell, I pursued excellence with integrity when I was in college, too, I just didn’t throw for elebenty bajillion yards against Oklahoma when they were going for a national title!