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And then there were three
By Gary Danielson
Special to BCSfootball.com

Respond to Gary's rankings.

Each Monday, ABC college football analyst Gary Danielson will break down the top quarterbacks around the country and rank his Top 10.

Perhaps the Heisman should adopt some of the ideas of the Bowl Championship Series. Maybe it should go more towards the way professional sports handles their MVPs. The media spends so much time talking about the Heisman before its necessary, inevitably, each year, two or three guys end up emerging. All the pre-talk is fun, but no one should lose sleep over it. No one should feel slighted if they are not the top five at the beginning of the year. Barry Sanders came from nowhere to win the Heisman Trophy in 1988. It was talent that won it.

Everyone was crying -- I remember the coaches at Wisconsin were mad at me because I said unless Ron Dayne could have big games against the big teams, (he had never gained 100 yards against Michigan or Ohio State), he wasn't going to win the Heisman. I said that in September. All of a sudden, he had that big game against Ohio State, and things worked out. That's exactly what is happening this year.

Drew Brees
Drew Brees needs 102 passing yards to reach 3,000 for the third straight year.
The Purdue people were upset with me because I had Chris Weinke listed as the preseason favorite. I said, "So what?" What does it matter what Gary Danielson thinks? The season rolls around, the talent elevates, and you create your own vote. Back when I played sports, the coaches said they didn't pick the starting lineup, you created the starting lineup. It's the same thing with the Heisman. The guys end up having the years they are going to end up having.

Right about now, in the beginning of November, is when you really have to look at who you can seriously consider to win the Heisman.

First of all, I know it is going to be a quarterback. That premise was right, and I knew it was going to be one of six or eight guys. It is now narrowed down to three guys, with Chris Weinke being the dark horse.

Weinke needs a huge break. He needs Oklahoma to lose, he needs Michigan State or Indiana to knock off Drew Brees and Purdue, and he has to have a huge game against Florida. Even then, his chances are slim.

Including Vick, it's a three-man race with Josh Heupel and Drew Brees. Vick, if he does an imitation of El Cid and comes back from the dead to lead his team to victory in this week's battle against Miami, can win the Heisman. Beating Miami in Miami and leading his team back to the National Championship Game on one leg would be dramatic television, and statistics are irrelevant when you lead your team that way. Statistically, he has not had the type of year to deserve the Heisman. He would likely be third from the bottom up.

Josh Heupel
The changes won't have any affect on last year's champion Sooners.
Heupel's game against Nebraska set the stage. He responded in a pressure-packed game, beating a big-named team in big-time fashion. He's in tremendous position to steal this Heisman because he was not thought of as a front-runner.

Drew Brees is the front-runner, and in one game showed all the emotions of what it is like to play quarterback. Brees was asked to carry his team against an Ohio State defense that taunted him and called out his manhood about not being tough enough. And Ohio State came up with a great game plan to pick off four of his passes. Brees is also playing against 33 years of frustrations in West Lafayette of not going to the Rose Bowl and never winning the Big Ten championship.

He was struggling, at least with the interceptions. He threw one of the most horrific interceptions in the history of Big Ten football, but then came back with the whole crowd holding its breath, to win the game. It shows why sports are so great.

I never measure a player by wins or losses. I measure a player by how he deals with adversity. Brees' touchdown pass after throwing that pick was the single-most clutch play that I have seen in 11 years of broadcasting college football.

No. 1 (tie) -- Drew Brees, Purdue
Ohio State: 39-65-455, 3 TD, 4 int.; rush: 6-4
Season: 240-401-2898, 22 TD, 8 int.; rush: 76-439, 4 TD; rec: 1-5, 1 TD

No. 1 (tie) -- Josh Heupel, Oklahoma
Nebraska: 20-34-300, 1 TD, 1 int.; rush: 8-46
Season: 164-244-2194, 12 TD, 5 int.; rush: 41-72, 5 TD

You can make tremendous arguments for both. Brees has to go to the Rose Bowl. He needs two more big games.

You have to give them both an A+ for their performances this weekend.

No. 3 -- Michael Vick, Virginia Tech
at Syracuse: 6-11-75; rush: 16-9, 1 TD
Season: 71-118-943, 7 TD, 4 int.; rush: 86-550, 8 TD

Vick has a tough road.

No. 4 -- Chris Weinke, Florida State
at N.C. State: 13-21-184, 1 TD
Season: 193-308-2968, 23 TD, 7 int.; rush: 24-(-82), 1 TD

Other top performances:
There are just four candidates left for the Heisman, but these three had notable efforts this weekend.

Joey Harrington, Oregon
26-43-434, 6 TDs at Arizona State
I did notice Joey Harrington's game against Arizona State. He did a great job, and his team is in position to go to the Rose Bowl. I promise next year he will be considered in the top five for the Heisman.

George Godsey, Georgia Tech
35-57-454, 3 TDs at Clemson
Pulled off the upset of then-No. 4 Clemson in Death Valley.

Zak Kustok, Northwestern
18-32-209, 2 TDs; rush: 29-90, 2 TD at Minnesota
Rallied Wildcats back from 21 points down in the fourth quarter to make Northwestern bowl-eligible.

Gary Danielson writes a column every Monday for BCSfootball.com  
 
 

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ALSO SEE
Heisman Watch: It's all about the seniors

Connolly: Heupel bamboozles Blackshirts

Battle of Drews won in a Brees

Danielson: Championships start from behind center

Danielson: The player vs. the system

Danielson: Cool Brees following Dayne's pattern

Danielson: Top quarterbacks beginning to emerge

Danielson: Dantzler setting the ACC on fire

Danielson: Purdue takes the ball out of Brees' hands

Danielson: Crouch looks golden

Danielson: Vick beginning to resemble a certain Tiger

Danielson: Year of the QB

AUDIO/VIDEO
video
 Oklahoma's Andre Woolfolk pulls down the circus-catch on his back with one hand.
avi: 1420 k
RealVideo: 56.6 | ISDN | T1

 The Sooners even the score at 14 on this 34-yard Curtis Fagan TD catch.
avi: 1319 k
RealVideo: 56.6 | ISDN | T1

 Purdue's Seth Morales catches this 64-yard bomb from Drew Brees for the game-winning TD.(courtesy: ABCSports)
avi: 574 k
RealVideo: 56.6 | ISDN | T1

 Purdue's Drew Brees throws a 19-yard pass to Vinny Sutherland for the TD.(courtesy: ABCSports)
avi: 1408 k
RealVideo: 56.6 | ISDN | T1

 Joey Harrington airs it out to Keenan Howry for a 26-yard TD.
avi: 1411 k
RealVideo: 56.6 | ISDN | T1

 Georgia Tech's Kerry Watkins hauls in the 16-yard game-winner from George Godsey.
avi: 840 k
RealVideo: 56.6 | ISDN | T1

 Georgia Tech's George Godsey finds Kerry Watkins for the 33-yard TD pass.
avi: 750 k
RealVideo: 56.6 | ISDN | T1





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