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.