NCF Nation: Heisman-watch-101111

Big Ten Heisman Watch: Week 7

October, 11, 2011
There isn't much movement in the Big Ten Heisman Watch this week.

Wisconsin was off in Week 6, so Russell Wilson didn't get a chance to add to his Heisman résumé. Michigan's Denard Robinson remains a candidate, and his second-half heroics against Northwestern helped his stock. Robinson finished with 337 yards passing and 117 yards rushing, scoring twice each on the ground and through the air, in another outstanding statistical performance.

But will voters be able to overlook Robinson's nine interceptions so far? To put that in perspective, Wilson, Stanford's Andrew Luck, Boise State's Kellen Moore and Baylor's Robert Griffin III have seven interceptions combined this season. Shoelace does amazing things and practically carries his team to victory, so his mistakes can be forgiven. He's going to put up amazing numbers, and as long as Michigan keeps winning, he'll be in the conversation. But he simply must cut down on the turnovers with so many other efficient quarterbacks playing at a high level across the country.

Some readers have asked me whether Illinois receiver A.J. Jenkins could get into the Heisman race. He is having a remarkable season, and Illini officials pointed out this week that Jenkins is responsible for a higher percentage of his team's receiving yards than any other player in the FBS. However, it is all but impossible for a receiver to win the Heisman, and Jenkins' stats likely won't approach the monster years that guys like Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Crabtree put up in their best years. Neither of those guys took home the statue. Michigan's Desmond Howard pulled it off, but he was a top-flight return man as well, which Jenkins is not right now.

Jenkins' teammate, quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, probably has a better chance of getting in the mix if Illinois can stay unbeaten. Scheelhaase's mixture of running and passing makes him like a slightly-lesser statistical version of Robinson, without all the turnovers.

Non-AQ Heisman Watch

October, 11, 2011
Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore continues to be on the Heisman radar.

This week he finds himself third on the Heisman poll. (Full disclosure, I voted him No. 2 this week). I am going to keep Houston quarterback Case Keenum on this list of non-AQ players for the Heisman because he is putting up his usual numbers.

Moore: Has thrown for 1,391 yards with 17 touchdown passes to four interceptions so far this season. But keep in mind he has only played in one full game this season. Moore is one of nine players completing over 70 percent of his passes this season. His 74 percent completion percentage would set a career high.

Keenum: Has thrown for 2,309 yards this season, with 17 touchdown passes and just two interceptions. He currently ranks No. 2 all-time on the NCAA's total yardage list with 16,781 yards. He needs just 130 yards to pass Timmy Chang of Hawaii for the record. Keenum also third all-time in NCAA history with 124 touchdown passes. He needs seven more to pass Hawaii's Colt Brennan for second. And finally, Keenum stands at 15,895 career passing yards -- 1,178 yards shy of Chang's NCAA record.

Big 12 Heisman Watch: Week 7

October, 11, 2011
Landry Jones has a stranglehold on the No. 1 spot in my rankings after his unbelievable day against Texas on Saturday.

1. Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma

Last week: 31-50, 367 yards, 3 TD in a 55-17 win over Texas.

Making the case for Jones: Jones had his best outing of the season in the biggest rivalry game of the season. He picked apart a Texas defense that had defended the pass pretty well. Not many quarterbacks can top 300 yards by halftime in that kind of a game, but Jones did it.

2. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

Last week: 22-30, 212 yards, TD and 24 carries, 107 yards TD in a 49-26 win over Iowa State.

Making the case for Griffin: Only Griffin could rush for 100 yards in a game and hear comments about how he had an off game. The Bears signal-caller is getting it done this year, and that says a whole lot about just how good he's been.

3. Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State

Last week: 24-28, 288 yards 5 TD in a 70-28 win over Kansas.

Making the case for Weeden: Poor Weeden. Sat through a bye last week and was benched with five minutes left in the first half of Saturday's game. Granted, that's because OSU had a 56-7 halftime lead, but Weeden might have thrown for a few short of a bajillion yards if left in against the Jayhawks.

4. Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma

Last week: 9 rec, 122 yards TD in a 55-17 win over Texas.

Making the case for Broyles: Broyles doubled his best game ever against the Longhorns, getting loose against a young set of corners and making plays against the Longhorns safeties.

5. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

Last week: 8 rec, 84 yards 2 TD in a 70-28 win over Kansas.

Making the case for Blackmon: Like Weeden, Blackmon had a short day on Saturday. Like Weeden, Blackmon could have had a bajillion receiving yards if OSU wanted him to do so.

Finally, here's what my ballot looked like in ESPN's weekly Heisman Watch:

1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
2. Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin
3. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
4. Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
5. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State

Big East Heisman watch

October, 11, 2011
Now that we are at the midway point of the season, the Heisman candidates have begun to shake out. West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith remains the best candidate from the Big East, though he still is a long shot.

Here is a look at what he has done this season:

Smith has passed for 2,159 yards -- third-best in the nation, while throwing 16 touchdown passes to just three interceptions. He has thrown for the second-most touchdown passes in the nation and also ranks No. 5 in the country in passing yards per game (359.8) and seventh in total offense (352.7). West Virginia is on pace to shatter the school record for total offense, and Smith is a big reason why. The Mountaineers average 503.5 yards per game. The school record is 482.7 per game, set in 1988.

SEC Heisman watch: Week 7

October, 11, 2011
The top guys stay the same, but we have a few new faces in our SEC Heisman watch this week:

1. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama: The clear leader in the SEC, Richardson probably needs another monster game on a big stage to get up there nationally with Stanford's Andrew Luck and Wisconsin's Russell Wilson. With the way Richardson is running right now and the way his offensive line is playing, you can look for a strong close to the season for him. He's put together five straight 100-yard rushing games and leads the SEC with 12 touchdowns. Depending on how these next two weeks go, he could already have 1,000 yards going into that LSU game on Nov. 5.

2. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina: The good news for Lattimore is that South Carolina seemed to rediscover its passing game last week with Connor Shaw. Maybe that means Lattimore won't be running on fumes when those late November games roll around. He still leads the SEC with 779 rushing yards and is second to Richardson with 10 touchdowns. Lattimore is also second on South Carolina's team in receptions. He has 16 catches for 153 yards.

3. Michael Dyer, RB, Auburn: With the Tigers' passing game sputtering, Dyer is getting all the touches he can stand and then some. He's carried the ball 62 times in his last two games and is third in the SEC in rushing with 679 yards. Even with the added work, Dyer is still averaging 5.5 yards per carry and has a way of wearing on defenses the more he gets it. He's well on his way to a 1,000-yard season and maybe a lot more.

4. Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU: Another defensive player has to win it sooner or later, right? It helps that Mathieu also returns punts. He's already scored a pair of touchdowns on fumble returns. If he adds a punt return for a touchdown to his collection, and maybe even an interception return, then his Heisman stock is only going to soar. Mathieu leads the Tigers in tackles with 41 and also leads the SEC with four forced fumbles. He's a big play waiting to happen on defense and deserves serious consideration.

5. Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas: He leads the SEC with 1,779 passing yards at the midway point and has taken his game to another level these past two weeks. Wilson passed for a school-record 510 yards in the comeback win over Texas A&M two weeks ago and followed that up with a 24-of-36 performance for 262 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the win over Auburn last week. Wilson has thrown 12 touchdown passes and only three interceptions and has been precisely what Bobby Petrino had hoped Wilson would be in his first year as the starter.

ACC Heisman watch: Week 7

October, 11, 2011
It’s unfortunate the players on losing and/or struggling teams don’t really get much consideration for college football’s most prestigious individual award, because there are some fantastic players who aren’t on Clemson’s roster who are deserving of consideration. All of them have been mentioned in this space before, but I’m thinking specifically this week of Virginia Tech’s David Wilson and Miami’s Lamar Miller. Those two running backs put on a wildly entertaining show last weekend, but Miller’s Miami team is the only one in the Coastal Division with a losing record, and Virginia Tech still needs Georgia Tech to lose if the Hokies are going to defend their division title.

The one player in the league right now, though, who stands the best chance at representing the ACC in the Heisman race is Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd. The Tigers and their fans got a huge scare this past weekend when Boyd was assisted off the field because of a hip injury and did not return to the game. All indications are that he will play Saturday against Maryland, though, which not only upgrades Clemson’s chances of remaining undefeated, but also keeps Boyd in the Heisman conversation. Here’s a quick look at his updated résumé:
  • Ranks 14th in nation in total offense (310.3).
  • Ranks 16th in nation in pass efficiency (160.2).
  • Ranks ninth in the nation in touchdown passes with 15.
  • He ranks first in the ACC in passing yards per game (290), total offense (310.3) and is second in touchdown passes (15).
  • He has completed 119 of 194 passes for 15 touchdowns and just two interceptions.

Pac-12 Heisman Trophy update

October, 11, 2011
Here's a look at what the Pac-12's top Heisman Trophy candidates did over the weekend. Names will be added or subtracted to the list, as warranted.

Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford: Luck completed 25 of 33 passes for 370 yards and three touchdowns with an interception (which was a deflection off his wide receiver's hands) in the win over Colorado. He ranks third in the nation in passing efficiency. Trending? Same.

LaMichael James, RB, Oregon: James rushed for 239 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries before dislocating his elbow in the fourth quarter of a the victory over California. He ranks No. 1 in the nation in rushing with 170.4 yards per game. Trending? Same.

Chris Polk, RB, Washington: Polk was off last weekend. He faces Colorado on Saturday. He ranks eighth in the nation in rushing with 122.2 yards per game. Trending? Same.

Matt Barkley, QB, USC: Barkley was off last week. He faces California on Thursday. He ranks 14th in the nation in passing efficiency. Trending? Same.

Robert Woods, WR, USC: Woods was off last week. He ranks No. 2 in the nation with 149.4 yards receiving per game. Trending: Same.

Darron Thomas, QB, Oregon: Thomas completed 13 of 25 passes for 198 yards with three touchdowns and an interception in the win over Cal. His numbers might get better with James out. He ranks 19th in the nation in passing efficiency. Trending? Down.

Keith Price, QB, Washington: Price was off last week. He ranks seventh in the nation in passing efficiency and is tied for second with 17 touchdown passes. Trending: Same.