Just when it looked like the Heisman race was taking shape, an NCAA investigation of the Heisman frontrunner’s recruitment threw a huge monkey wrench into the race.
To be fair, this could be meaningless in the Heisman race, because said frontrunner may not have done anything wrong and even if he did, it’s not likely any ruling from the NCAA would come down prior to the Heisman being giving away.
In any case, it will be an interesting thing to keep an eye on for the rest of the race for the prestigious stiff-arm trophy.
The Front Runners
- Cameron Newton (QB/Auburn) – There is only two ways that Cameron Newton does not win the Heisman Trophy. One is
if he falls off in the last two games of the season and Oregon RB LaMichael James puts up insane numbers over the final weeks. The other is if we do find out that Newton is not eligible to play or if the Heisman voters are worried about giving out the Heisman to a player that may not be eligible for the award with the risk of having a second vacated trophy in the last six years. If it ended today, Cameron Newton would be the run away winner of the Heisman Trophy, but that’s why we don’t give out the award after ten weeks of the season. In a virtual exhibition game on Saturday against Chattanooga, Newton threw for 317 yards on 15 of 21 passing and four touchdowns while adding a rushing touchdown. Auburn has two regular season games remaining against Georgia and Alabama before likely heading to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game.
- LaMichael James (RB/Oregon) – LaMichael James seems to be the only serious threat to Cameron Newton’s Heisman hopes. James continues putting up brilliant performances for the #1 ranked Ducks. James carried the ball 26 times on Saturday against Washington and racked up 121 yards with three touchdowns on the ground to add to it. The season James is having is usually good enough to take home the Heisman Trophy, but most years we do not have a player like Cameron Newton. It’s very likely that James puts up better numbers this season then last season’s Heisman winner Mark Ingram and doesn’t win the award. LaMichael James has three more games to impress the voters and I expect him to put up great numbers the rest of the year.
- Kellen Moore (QB/Boise State) – Kellen Moore is having an incredible year for undefeated Boise State. But, just like the Broncos, he is beginning to be an after thought because of the softer schedule Boise State has played compared to what Cameron Newton and LaMichael James have faced. But, regardless of competition, Kellen Moore has put up ridiculous numbers this season. Kellen Moore has the highest passer rating in the country and it’s not that close at 192.38. Moore threw two interceptions on Saturday against Hawaii, but his passer rating was well over 200 thanks to completing 30 of his 37 passes for 507 yards and three touchdowns. Some people looked at Hawaii as a possible trap game for Boise State, but led by Kellen Moore, they took care of business with a 42-7 drubbing of the Warriors.
- Andrew Luck (QB/Stanford) – In my opinion, Stanford is the best one-loss team in the nation with their only blemish on their resume coming in Eugene against the #1 team in the nation. Stanford’s Rose Bowl hopes continue looking better after their 42-17 drubbing of Arizona on Saturday evening. Andrew Luck completed 23 of his 32 pass attempts for 293 yards and two touchdown tosses in the Cardinal win. I believe Andrew Luck is the best QB in the nation and he would likely be leading or close behind Cameron Newton in the Heisman race if he had led Stanford to the win over Oregon in October.
- Andy Dalton (QB/TCU) – Another non-AQ QB has tossed his name into the Heisman ring. Dalton was just off the pace last week and after his brilliant performance against Utah on Saturday in Salt Lake City, Dalton has now put himself into frontrunner status. He threw for 355 yards on 21 of 26 passing and 3 touchdowns to lead TCU to a 47-7 win over 5th ranked Utah. His QB rating for the afternoon was an absurd 233.54. The Horned Frogs submitted themselves as serious contenders for the National Championship and to be honest, they look like the most complete team in the nation. TCU’s defense gets a lot of the credit most of the time, but Andy Dalton is keying a very strong offense in Fort Worth.
Just off the Pace
- Terrelle Pryor (QB/Ohio State) – Terrelle Pryor was sitting near the top of the Heisman race for a good chunk of the
season, but his performance against Wisconsin a few weeks ago, coupled with the loss dropped Pryor off. But, Pryor has rebounded nicely from his poor performance in Madison. He played great against Purdue and had another impressive performance two weeks ago against Minnesota. Ohio State had a bye week this week and that only helped Pryor’s chances of winning the Heisman. He’s probably the only guy that is just off the pace that has a real chance of climbing in and being a Heisman finalist.
- Justin Blackmon (WR/Oklahoma State) – It might be a stretch to say that Justin Blackmon is just off the Heisman pace and it’s not very likely that Blackmon is a Heisman finalist. But, even after his DUI that suspended him for the Kansas State game, Blackmon came back better than ever and is in the very least the top candidate for the Biletnikoff. Blackmon had 173 yards on 13 receptions and a touchdown for the Cowboys in their 55-28 win over Baylor on Saturday afternoon.
Falling off the Pace
- John Clay (RB/Wisconsin) – John Clay was clinging to his Heisman front runner status and needed a big performance against Purdue to hang on – especially since Andy Dalton came up so big for his team this weekend. Instead, Clay only carried the ball 12 times for 42 yards in the Badgers 34-13 win over Purdue. Clay isn’t a flashy runner and that has hurt his chances at the Heisman in its own right, but he has also not put up the same numbers he has in years past. He’s still yet to eclipse 1000 yards for the season. It would be a big uphill battle for Clay to get to New York for the Heisman ceremony and I do not expect it to happen.
- Kendall Hunter (RB/Oklahoma State) – Unfortunately for Kendall Hunter, a player on his own team took center stage on Saturday against Baylor. Kendall Hunter stepped up and shouldered the load for Oklahoma State with Justin Blackmon serving a one-game suspension, but his return this week led to a lot more passing for the Cowboys. Hunter only received 14 carries and managed only 66 yards to go along with a pair of touchdowns in the big win over Baylor. Hunter’s Heisman hopes are no longer intact.
This is usually where I talk about sleepers for the Heisman race, but at this point in the season, there are no more sleepers. If you aren’t a front runner or just off the pace, then you have no shot at the Heisman or even being a finalist.