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The HP Heisman Watch

Here is my weekly breakdown of the players with the best chance of actually winning the Heisman.

1. Colt McCoy, Texas–McCoy is one of only two Heisman candidates to emerge unscathed from this past weekend.  He threw for 286 yards and 3 TDs (with one pick) on 28 of 35 passing against UTEP.  On the year, he has 1,145 passing yards, 9 TDs and 5 INTs, to go with 61 rushing yards and 1 TD.  He is on pace to have 3,721 passing yards, 36 touchdowns and 15 interceptions by the time of the Heisman vote.  He will need to cut back on his picks for these numbers to be considered Heisman-worthy, but I think if he keeps it to 12 or below (a 3-1 ratio) he’ll be fine.   He is the overwhelming favorite for the Heisman right now.

2. Jacory Harris, Miami–Why does Jacory Harris move up after a bad loss to Virginia Tech?  Well, just look at the schedule.  The ‘Canes host Oklahoma next week and then will not play a ranked team in their final eight games.  Miami has a real chance to run the table following the game vs. the Sooners, so we are looking at a Miami team that is likely to finish no worse than 10-2, with a decent shot at 11-1 if it beats Oklahoma.  Voters will look kindly upon a young quarterback who led a formerly elite program back into the top five of the polls and may forgive his struggles in the pouring rain on the road at Lane Stadium.   The wildcard in all of this is how Miami ends up in conference play and whether it gets a BCS bid of some sort.  Harris was 9 of 20 for 150 yards and no touchdowns against Va. Tech.  On the year, he has 806 passing yards with 5 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.  He is on pace to have 3,224 passing yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions by the time of the Heisman vote.  However, I expect him to pick up the pace on these numbers in the final eight games of the season and finish with a much better stat sheet.

3. Jahvid Best, Cal–Best ran for just 55 yards on 16 carries and was not a factor in Cal’s blowout loss to Oregon.  I’m not ready to count Best out just yet, though, as he has a shot to bounce back with a nice game in a win next week over USC.  As always, USC is the team that Best must do well against to have a shot.  If Cal loses against USC next week, Best’s Heisman chances are done.  One problem is that Best clearly is not 100 percent right now due to soreness in his surgically-repaired foot.  So he is lacking some of the other-worldly explosiveness to which we have become accustomed.  On the year, Best has 467 rushing yards and 8 touchdowns, along with 9 catches and one more TD.  He is on pace to have 1,401 yards and 27 total touchdowns by the time of the Heisman vote.

4. Tim Tebow, Florida–Almost everything has to go right to win the Heisman once.  To win it again, things must be near-perfect.  Tebow’s chances at another Heisman are fading and are now entirely dependent upon the collapse of the rest of the field (as well as his health).  He threw for 103 yards on 5 of 10 passing with a TD against Kentucky and added another 123 yards and 2 TDs on the ground before being knocked out with a concussion in the third quarter.  In the short term, there will be a rallying effect around Tebow among voters, as they rightly appreciate his toughness.  The question now, though, is how much time will he miss, if any?  His stats are already down even further than last season and any missed games will further depress his numbers.  On the year, he has 643 passing yards with 6 TDs and 1 interception, along with 271 rushing yards and 5 TDs.  Assuming Florida makes the SEC title game, he is on pace for just 2,089 passing yards, with 20 TD passes and 3 interceptions, to go with 880 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns.   Those are impressive to a point, but are they enough to warrant a second Heisman?  I’m not so sure.

5. Case Keenum, Houston–There will soon come a point where voters will have to take a serious look at Case Keenum.  So far, he has led the Cougars to wins over Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, which gives him some credibility against legitimate competition.  Houston is now a top 10 team and has a real chance of running the table.  If that happens, how could you not consider Keenum for the trophy, especially if the rest of the field is lackluster?  He led the Cougars to a come-from-behind win over Texas Tech, throwing for 435 yards and 1 touchdown (with 1 pick) while adding 27 rushing yards and another score.   On the year, he has 1,160 yards passing with 8 touchdowns and 2 interceptions and has 3 more rushing touchdowns as well.  He is on pace to have 5,026 passing yards, 35 touchdowns and 9 interceptions by the time of the Heisman vote.  I wouldn’t be shocked if he improves upon the TD numbers when all is said and done.   This is not Andre Ware leading a probation-riddled team to 9-2, this is a guy who has beaten some pretty good teams while pushing his squad to a possible undefeated season and BCS berth.  Something to think about. 

6. Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame–Part of figuring out who can win the Heisman is projecting how the season could possibly play out (within reason).   Given how things shape up, I think Clausen actually has a shot to make a late-season run.  He has led the Irish to gritty comebacks in each of the last three games (though in one of them ND ended up losing in the end) and there seems to be a bit of magic surrounding him this year.  On the season, he has 1,122 passing yards, 10 touchdowns and just 1 interception.  He is on pace to throw for 3,386 yards, 30 TDs and 3 picks.  If Clausen has those kinds of numbers and leads Notre Dame to a win over USC and the Irish go on to finish 11-1, how do you ignore him in the Heisman race?  If other candidacies mess up along the way, I think he’ll end up as a viable alternative as he’ll be seen as someone who has revived the Irish program.  But, there is a long way to go and this scenario has to play out just right.  So he remains a long shot.

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Making The Case

Houston’s Case Keenum is starting to make a name for himself in this year’s Heisman race.

Later on Tuesday, I’ll have the latest Heismanpundit.com Heisman Poll and you’ll see that Keenum makes his first appearance in the weekly survey.

In two weeks, he’ll get a chance to really get things going as Houston takes on Texas Tech.  Later, the Cougars play Mississippi State.  Getting three wins over BCS conference teams–including top five Oklahoma State–would be nothing to sneeze at.

I still think Keenum will use this season to lay the groundwork for a serious Heisman run in 2010, when elite candidates like Tebow, McCoy and Bradford will all (most likely) be gone.  He could also be aiming for the all-time NCAA passing yardage mark next season and the rising Cougars might even make a run at a major bowl.

It will be difficult for Keenum to get to New York this year, but stranger things have happened.  Having another 5,000-yard passing year wouldn’t hurt.

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