Now for my weekly Heisman Watch. This is my list of the players with the best chance of actually winning the Heisman. It is a projection of how the race is most likely to take shape based on current information. From what I see, there are only four players out there who can still win the Heisman:
1. Colt McCoy, Texas–McCoy holds a slight edge after completing 16 of 21 for 171 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions against Oklahoma State. He also rushed for 34 yards. He’s on pace to complete 72 percent of his passes for 3,212 yards, 24 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions by the time of the Heisman vote. While these aren’t spectacular numbers in the context of recent winners, it is probably good enough to win the trophy this season, especially given his status as the returning Heisman runner-up who is the senior quarterback for a (likely) undefeated team. If he doesn’t win, it will be because one of the other candidates finishes the season in a markedly stronger fashion and has a clear-cut case for the trophy. However, I do think McCoy is set up nicely to pick up strong support due to his being the top candidate West of the Mississippi. He also benefits from the possibility that the two SEC candidates could sap each other’s strength in the voting.
2. Mark Ingram, Alabama–Ingram sat out last week as Alabama had a bye. He maintains his status as a strong Heisman contender, but this Saturday’s game versus LSU could make or break his chances. He’s got 1,004 yards and eight touchdowns on the season, so he’s on pace to have 1,631 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns by the time of the Heisman vote. A big game against LSU could put him in clear control of this race, but a poor game could end his run.
3. Tim Tebow, Florida–Tebow had maybe his best game of the season against Georgia, throwing for 164 yards and two touchdowns on 15 of 21 passing, while also rushing for 85 yards and two scores. He’s now on pace to have the following numbers at Heisman voting time: 2,149 passing yards with 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions, plus 897 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground. The Gators don’t have any marquee games left on the regular season schedule, so he’ll need to accumulate more yardage away from the spotlight before the (likely) mega-matchup against Alabama in the SEC title game. The best chance for Tebow to win the Heisman is for Ingram to be eliminated as a viable candidate before that title game and then for him to lead the Gators to the win against the Tide. That will make Tebow the main SEC candidate and help give voters more reason to rally his way.
4. Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame–Clausen lurks in the background of this race, waiting for something to happen to the other candidates. He’s the stat king of the bunch and is coming off a game against WSU where he went 22 of 27 for 268 yards with two touchdowns and no picks. He is on pace to have 3,477 yards, 27 touchdown passes and just three interceptions by the time of the Heisman vote. These numbers are superior to all the other top candidates in the race, but he’s still hampered by the perception that Notre Dame hasn’t beaten a good team yet. His best chance of winning comes if he finishes the season strong–with the Irish going 10-2–and Alabama and Florida both lose (with Tebow and Ingram taking major hits to their candidacies). In that scenario, he’d have a chance to steal the race from McCoy, whose numbers pale in comparison and whose schedule wasn’t exactly the toughest, either.
The race could come down to which school makes the best case for its candidate, which is why the campaigns need to start heating up.
If the vote were held today
1. Mark Ingram, Alabama
2. Tim Tebow, Florida
3. Colt McCoy, Texas
4. Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame
5. Case Keenum, Houston
6. Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska
7. Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State
8. C.J. Spiller, Clemson
9. Eric Berry, Tennessee
10. Golden Tate, Notre Dame