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The HeismanPundit.com Heisman Poll–Final Call!

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The final HeismanPundit.com Heisman Poll of the season is in and Alabama running back Mark Ingram is the leader following his 113-yard rushing performance against No. 1 Florida in the SEC title game.

Ingram grabbed four first-place votes and totaled 46 points to retake the top spot back from Texas quarterback Colt McCoy.

“I moved Ingram to the top of my ballot around mid-season, and nothing has made me change my mind,” said one voter. “What he did Saturday against a quality Florida defense was my final validation.”

The vote by the weekly panel of 13 Heisman voters was hardly a slam dunk for the sophomore running back, however, and the race appears to be very muddled going into Saturday’s Heisman ceremony.  Stanford’s Toby Gerhart (43 points, 2 first-place votes), Texas’ McCoy (36 points, 1 first-place vote) and Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh (36 points, 4 first-place votes) all garnered significant support.  A total of six different players received first-place votes, tying the poll’s season high.

Voter commentary reflected the split:

“It’s long past time Heisman voters abandon their traditional, restrictive criteria and award the “most outstanding player,” regardless of position. Suh was hands down the most dominant player in the country on either side of the ball, and his performance in the Big 12 title game firmly solidified his stature. ”

“C.J. Spiller may be more exciting and Toby Gerhart more punishing, but no running back has been more effective against a tougher schedule than Ingram.”

“Golden Tate is as outstanding as he is underrated. Why he isn’t getting more Heisman love is beyond me.  He should not be penalized because his team stunk.”

“Toby Gerhart was consistently excellent this season. He never had a bad game. Stanford’s four losses or his lack of playing on the final weekend should not be held against him.”

Since ultimately you can’t take a cash advance to buy more votes, some sort of history is sure to be made on Saturday.  Ingram could become Alabama’s first Heisman winner or runner up, while McCoy could become the first Heisman runner up to come back and win the award since Herschel Walker did it in 1982.  Meanwhile, Gerhart would be the first non-USC winner from the Pac-10 since 1970 and Suh would be the first pure defensive player to win.

About the Poll
 
The HeismanPundit.com Heisman Poll is made up of 13 Heisman voters from across the country. They vote for five players each week. Tabulations are made on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis, with five points awarded for a first-place vote, four points for a second-place vote and so on.  Last year’s final Heismanpundit poll was the most accurate in the country, picking five of the top six finishers in the Heisman vote, including the winner.

Members of the panel include: Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel, Teddy Greenstein and Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune, Olin Buchanan and Tom Dienhart of Rivals.com, Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman, Bruce Feldman of ESPN.com, J.B. Morris of ESPN the Magazine, Austin Murphy, B.J. Schecter and Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated, plus Dick Weiss of the New York Daily News.

Chris Huston of HeismanPundit.com coordinates and also votes in the poll.

The Final HeismanPundit.com Heisman Poll, 12/7/09
Total points, with first place votes in parantheses

1. Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama–46 (4)

2. Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford–43 (2)

3. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas–36 (1)

    Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska–36 (4)

5. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State–11 (1)

6. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida–7

    C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson–7

8. Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame–5 (1)

9. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon–2

10. Case Keenum, QB, Houston–1

     Jeremiah Masoli, QB, Oregon–1

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Regardless, History Will Be Made

No matter who wins the Heisman on Saturday, some sort of history will be made.

If Colt McCoy wins, he’ll become just the fifth player to win the Heisman after finishing second the previous season.  The four previous players to do so were Tom Harmon (’39-’40), Glenn Davis (’45-’46), O.J. Simpson (’67-’68) and Herschel Walker (’81-’82).

If McCoy takes second, he’ll join Davis (’44-’45), Charlie Justice (’48-’49) and Darren McFadden (’06-’07) as the only two-time Heisman runners up.

Of course, if Mark Ingram wins, he’ll become the first Crimson Tide player to win the Heisman.  But he could also become the first Alabama player to finish as high as second, too.

If Toby Gerhart wins, he’d be the first non-USC Pac-10 player to win the trophy since 1970 (when another Stanford player–Jim Plunkett–took home the award).  He’d also be the first white running back to win since John Cappalletti in 1973.

If Ndamukong Suh keeps gaining strength in the race and finishes in the top three, he’d be the first defensive lineman to do so since Hugh Green took second in 1980.

And Tim Tebow could be the first player since Herschel Walker to log three top-three Heisman finishes in his career.

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The HeismanPundit.com Heisman Poll, 12/1

The HeismanPundit.com Heisman Poll, 12/1/09
Total Points, with first-place votes in parantheses

1. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas–58 (7)

2. Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford–47 (3)

3. Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama–28 (1)

4. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida–24

5. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State–13 (1)

6. Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame–10 (1)

7. Case Keenum, QB, Houston–7

8. C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson–5

9. Jordan Shipley, WR, Texas–2

10. Jeremiah Masoli, QB, Oregon–1
Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska–1
Jacqizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State–1

About the Poll
 
The HeismanPundit.com Heisman Poll is made up of 13 Heisman voters from across the country. They vote for five players each week. Tabulations are made on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis, with five points awarded for a first-place vote, four points for a second-place vote and so on.  Last year’s final Heismanpundit poll was the most accurate in the country, picking five of the top six finishers in the Heisman vote, including the winner.

Members of the panel include: Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel, Teddy Greenstein and Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune, Olin Buchanan and Tom Dienhart of Rivals.com, Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman, Bruce Feldman of ESPN.com, J.B. Morris of ESPN the Magazine, Austin Murphy, B.J. Schecter and Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated, plus Dick Weiss of the New York Daily News. 

Chris Huston of HeismanPundit.com coordinates and also votes in the poll.
 
HP’s Thoughts
 
Colt McCoy has finally done what voters have been expecting of him all season and, as a result, this Heisman race is now his to lose.  If he can lead Texas to a win over Nebraska on Saturday, he’ll become the third Longhorn Heisman winner and just the fifth player to win after coming in second the year before.  Should McCoy slip up in a loss to the Cornhuskers, Toby Gerhart is in position to take home the Pac-10’s first trophy by a non-USC player since fellow Cardinal Jim Plunkett won it in 1970.
 
Heisman Game of the Week
 
No. 1 Florida vs. No. 2 Alabama–This game will feature a former Heisman winner (Tebow) and a former Heisman front runner (Ingram).  While both of these players are now longshots to win the 2009 trophy, the SEC title game could have a profound effect on the outcome of this race, as both will draw significant support when the ballots are tallied.  At the very least, this game provides one last chance to appreciate one of the great players in Heisman history in Tebow. 

Player to Watch

Colt McCoy, Texas–As it turns out, the player many thought was the preseason favorite to win the 2009 Heisman (including HP) has actually lived up to the expectations.  Not only has he produced another excellent season, but he has led his team to the brink of a national title berth.  Through it all, McCoy has handled the pressure as well as anyone possibly could.  His reward will be to go down as one of the great players in college football history.

This Week in Heisman History

A total of 65 voters ballots were cast for the inaugural Heisman Trophy, awarded to the University of Chicago’s Jay Berwanger in 1935.  Actually, at the time it was not called the Heisman. The Award was the Downtown Athletic Club’s Trophy to the Outstanding College Football Player East of the Mississippi River. In October of 1936, John Heisman, then the DAC’s Director of Athletics, passed away and the Award was named in his honor.

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The HP Heisman Watch

Now for the 14th–and penultimate–HP Heisman Watch of the 2009 season.

With one week of games remaining, we finally have clarity in this race.  One player is now the overwhelming favorite to capture this year’s Heisman Trophy, though he’s been the leader in this watch for 12 of the past 13 weeks. 

1. Colt McCoy, Texas–HP’s preseason favorite is thisclose to capturing the Heisman going away.  Putting together a Heisman-winning season takes a lot of talent, grit, fortitude, timing…and some luck.  It just so happens that McCoy had his best game of the season on Thanksgiving night, just a week after ballots had gone out to voters.  So, many voters who were paying extra-close attention to things for the first time saw him pass for 304 yards and rush for 173 while totaling five touchdowns in a rather entertaining, but crucial win over Texas A&M. 

Whereas McCoy struggled early in the season, he is now on a roll and his numbers after 12 games read:

3,328 passing yards
72% completion percentage
27 touchdown passes
9 interceptions
368 rushing yards
2 rushing touchdowns  

He has one more game to go to add to these totals.  His numbers are definitely Heisman-worthy, meaning that they are in the same realm as the numbers of previous winners and also quite good in the context of the current race.   While his slow start to the season opened up the trophy to other candidates, he was always in a strong position to catch fire with the Heisman electorate so long as he produced in the end.  After all, as the returning Heisman runner up and a quarterback for a traditional power challenging for the national title, he was as well-known and compelling as any candidate in the field when the campaign started.   By producing a Heisman-worthy season statistically, he has given voters who were predisposed to him in the first place the proper cover to mark him at the top of their ballots.

There are some who will say that McCoy has produced these numbers against inferior competition.  They will cite the Texas strength of schedule and the relative decline of the Big 12 as proof.  However, this will not be an issue when it comes to the Heisman.  Why?  Because voters already know McCoy is a great player.  That was made clear in 2008, when he had a dominant season against a very tough schedule.  The 2009 season wasn’t about McCoy proving himself to be a great player, but rather about whether he could maintain his level of play while leading Texas to the national title game–something he couldn’t do in 2008.  He is one win away from accomplishing that feat and voters will reward him accordingly. 

So what could stop McCoy from winning the Heisman at this point?  I think nothing less than a disastrous performance in a loss to Nebraska in the Big 12 Title game would bring that about.  If Texas beats the Cornhuskers, his level of play in that game will determine his margin of victory in the Heisman vote.

2. Mark Ingram, Alabama–Just a week ago, Ingram looked like he could win the Heisman if he finished the season strong.  But a 16-carry, 30-yard performance against Auburn when many Heisman voters were watching him closely for the first time was about the worst thing–next to a  ‘Bama loss–that could’ve happened to his candidacy. 

Ingram has 1,429 rushing yards (a 6.5 average) and 12 touchdowns on the season, plus another 28 receptions and three touchdowns through the air.  He was dinged up against Auburn and his status for the Florida game is uncertain.  I think it will take a Willis Reed-like performance against the Gators coupled with a McCoy disaster against Nebraska for Ingram to win the Heisman.

Equally bad for Ingram’s candidacy are the late surges by Toby Gerhart and Tim Tebow.  Gerhart’s rushing numbers on the year are markedly superior to Ingram’s, while Tebow also plays for an undefeated SEC team.  Both players therefore serve to erode a bit of the rationale for Ingram’s candidacy.  For instance, a voter inclined to support a running back might be attracted to Gerhart based on his superior stats, while another voter might think Tebow is the most deserving SEC player on an undefeated team.  Now, if Alabama beats Florida, then the Tebow issue is moot as far as Ingram goes, but he will still need to prove he is the top running back in the race.  That means a monster game against Florida.  Given his health issues and the stoutness of the Gator defense, this seems to be a highly unlikely proposition.  

3. Toby Gerhart, Stanford–It is necessary to insert Gerhart on this Heisman Watch primarily because of the following scenario:  

What if McCoy plays poorly and Nebraska beats Texas while Alabama beats Florida without any significant help from Ingram?  Who wins the Heisman?

I think in that scenario, we’d see a severely fractured race and possibly Gerhart eking it out. 

Gerhart is fresh off a huge game against Notre Dame–something that always helps when it comes to the Heisman.  He rushed for 205 yards and three touchdowns and also threw a touchdown pass to help Stanford beat the Irish.  On the year, he leads the nation with 1,736 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns.  Of the four serious candidates for the trophy, he has produced the best season statistically.

As it stands, Gerhart is practically a lock to win the West Region.  But in the end-of-season cataclysm I just depicted, I think he would also do well in the Midwest (thanks to his game against Notre Dame) and in the Northeast due to his alluring status as a blue-collar running back from an elite academic school (the kind of combination that propelled Cornell’s Ed Marinaro to a second-place Heisman finish in 1971). 

What about Tebow?  What if McCoy does poorly in a loss and the Gators beat Alabama behind the 2007 Heisman winner?  Obviously, this would push Tebow up in the race, but I don’t think he’ll have enough gas in the tank to top the rest of the field.  Ingram would still eat into his support in various regions, while others would see McCoy and Gerhart as still being superior statistically.  Meanwhile, players like C.J. Spiller, Kellen Moore, Ndamukong Suh and Case Keenum would grab some extra votes here and there.  And then there are those who just don’t think Tebow deserves a second Heisman, no matter how great a player he is.  In this scenario, Gerhart or McCoy still might eke it out.

If the vote were held today

1. Colt McCoy

2. Toby Gerhart

3. Tim Tebow

4. Mark Ingram

5. C. J. Spiller

6. Kellen Moore

7. Case Keenum

8. Golden Tate

9. Ndamukong Suh

10. Jacquizz Rodgers

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The HeismanPundit.com Heisman Poll, 11/24

The HeismanPundit.com Heisman Poll, 11/24/09
Total Points, (with first-place votes in parantheses)
 
1. Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama–58 (10)

2. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas–40 (1)

3. Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford–33 (1)

4. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida–20

5. C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson–13

6. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State–9

7. Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame–7 (1)

Case Keenum, QB, Houston–7

9. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska–3

Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State–3

11. Jeremiah Masoli, QB, Oregon–1

Dexter McCluster, RB, Mississippi–1

About the Poll
 
The HeismanPundit.com Heisman Poll is made up of 13 Heisman voters from across the country. They vote for five players each week. Tabulations are made on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis, with five points awarded for a first-place vote, four points for a second-place vote and so on.  Last year’s final Heismanpundit poll was the most accurate in the country, picking five of the top six finishers in the Heisman vote, including the winner.

Members of the panel include: Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel, Teddy Greenstein and Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune, Olin Buchanan and Tom Dienhart of Rivals.com, Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman, Bruce Feldman of ESPN.com, J.B. Morris of ESPN the Magazine, Austin Murphy, B.J. Schecter and Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated, plus Dick Weiss of the New York Daily News. 

Chris Huston of HeismanPundit.com coordinates and also votes in the poll.
 
HP’s Thoughts

It looks like this twisting and turning race has finally come down to Ingram and McCoy.  Whichever of these two can finish strongest will win the Heisman.  While Gerhart, Tebow and Spiller aren’t in position to take the top prize, they can still influence the outcome based on how they close out their seasons.  To wit: A vote for Gerhart or Spiller could be a vote otherwise meant for Ingram, while a vote for Tebow might’ve gone for McCoy.  This one is going down to the wire and could be the closest Heisman race since 2001.

Heisman Game of the Week

Texas vs. Texas A&M–The nation will tune in to the annual battle between the Aggies and Longhorns while stuffed on turkey and mashed potatoes.  It’s the only college game on Thanksgiving Day, so McCoy will have the Heisman spotlight to himself.  He’d better get off to a fast start in this one before the tryptophan kicks in.

Player to Watch

Mark Ingram–Mr. Ingram, get ready for your Heisman close up.  While McCoy takes center stage on Thursday, the big game on Friday will be between Auburn and Alabama.  Heisman ballots have been sent out, so many of the voters will be taking a close look at Ingram for the first time.  If they like what they see, he’ll be set up to clinch the Heisman one week later against Florida in the SEC title game. 

This Week in Heisman History

Playing with two broken ribs on his 23rd birthday, Auburn’s Bo Jackson ran for 142 yards and two touchdowns…all to no avail as the Tigers lost, 25-23, to Alabama on a last-second, 52-yard field goal by Van Tiffin in 1985.   Jackson would go on to win the Heisman by the smallest margin ever–a mere 45 points over Iowa’s Chuck Long.

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The HeismanPundit.com Heisman Poll, 11/10

The HeismanPundit.com Heisman Poll, 11/10
Total Points with first place votes in parantheses

1. Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama–55 (9)

2. Case Keenum, QB, Houston–29 (1)

3. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas–28 (2)

4. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida–24

5. C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson–16

6. Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford–11

7. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska–8

8. Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame–7 (1)

    Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State–7

10. Jordan Shipley, WR, Texas–6

11. Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame–3

12. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon–1

About the Poll
 
The HeismanPundit.com Heisman Poll is made up of 13 Heisman voters from across the country. They vote for five players each week. Tabulations are made on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis, with five points awarded for a first-place vote, four points for a second-place vote and so on.  Last year’s final Heismanpundit poll was the most accurate in the country, picking five of the top six finishers in the Heisman vote, including the winner.

Members of the panel include: Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel, Teddy Greenstein and Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune, Olin Buchanan and Tom Dienhart of Rivals.com, Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman, Bruce Feldman of ESPN.com, J.B. Morris of ESPN the Magazine, Austin Murphy, B.J. Schecter and Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated, plus Dick Weiss of the New York Daily News. 

Chris Huston of HeismanPundit.com coordinates and also votes in the poll.
 
HP’s Thoughts
 
Mark Ingram appears to be in firm control of this race after his 144-yard rushing effort in the Tide’s win over LSU.  This means he’s on track to win the Heisman as long as he finishes strong and doesn’t slip up against Florida in the SEC Title game.  However, keep an eye on Colt McCoy of Texas, who is making a late run for the trophy.  I see the race as being between these two candidates, though as many as five players could be invited to New York for the award ceremony. 
 
From a Voter
 
“Julio made the highlight reel, but for the fourth or fifth game in a row, it was Ingram piling up yards when ‘Bama had to have them–especially with Greg McElroy continuing to struggle.  Yes, Tebow and McCOy had nice games, but they’ve lacked the consistency of Ingram, who in my mind is consolidating his grip on the award.”  —  a Heisman voter.

Heisman Game of the Week
 
No. 1 Florida at South Carolina–The Gators haven’t been the same offensively this season.  As a result, Tebow’s numbers have decline markedly and now he needs a jolt to kickstart his campaign.  A stellar performance against a good South Carolina defense would do just that.  However, a poor outing would, for all intents and purposes, bring his run for a second Heisman to a close.  If history is any guide, I wouldn’t count him out just yet.        

Player to Watch

C. J. Spiller, Clemson–Spiller is coming off a school-record 312 all-purpose yards against Florida State and now he’s beginning to make some noise in the Heisman race.  He is as spectacular a player as there is in college football.  He is on pace to become one of just five players to crack the 7,000-yard career mark in all-purpose yardage and he’s just one kickoff return touchdown away from the owning the NCAA career mark in that category.  If he puts together some more games like he had against FSU and Clemson wins the ACC, look out.

This Week in Heisman History

Ron Dayne rumbled 31 yards off right tackle to break Ricky Williams’ one-year-old NCAA career-rushing record, part of a 216-yard effort by the senior tailback in Wisconsin’s 41-3 win over Iowa in 1999.  He went on to handily beat out Joey Hamilton and Michael Vick in the 1999 Heisman voting.  Dayne’s final total of 6,397 career rushing yards still stands today.

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How McCoy Can Win The Heisman

We looked at what Mark Ingram has to do down below, now here is a look at what Colt McCoy has to do–and what else has to happen–for him to win the Heisman.

Stats so far: 198 for 275 (72 percent) for 1,977 passing yards, 15 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, 144.57 rating, 138 rushing yards, 1 touchdown.

Games to go: UCF, at Baylor, Kansas, at Texas A&M, Big 12 title game

Best Route to the Heisman:

1. Win out.

2. Average 280 passing yards and 2.6 TDs per game (with no more than four total interceptions) the rest of the way, while maintaining his completion percentage.  This would give him 3,377 passing yards with 28 touchdown passes and no more than 12 interceptions by the time of the Heisman vote.  Not spectacular, but good enough to win in this year’s race, especially given his name recognition and status as senior quarterback for a top-2 team.

3. LSU beats Alabama;  Ingram’s production falls off.

Possible Pitfalls:

1.   Texas gets upset.

2.  Ingram finishes strong, rendering McCoy’s performances moot.

3.  McCoy keeps throwing interceptions and looks lackluster the rest of the way.

Ingram may control his Heisman destiny, but McCoy is there to potentially pick up the pieces if the Alabama running back falls apart.  A favorable schedule the rest of the way seems to point to Texas ending up undefeated and McCoy finishing strong.  If Ingram slips up, McCoy is in the best position to capitalize. 

colt-mccoy

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