OSU's Rodgers looks like a Heisman candidate

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Just about everybody's got their "he's-getting-no-respect!" Heisman Trophy candidate.

Nebraska defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh might be the most dominant player in the country. Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder has been as outstanding as his team has been disappointing. Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore has 21 touchdown passes -- most in the nation -- and just two interceptions.

Yet Oregon State running back Jacquizz Rodgers might eclipse them all.

"I don't know what to say about that, but I think he's one of the very best football players in the country," said coach Mike Riley when asked if Rodgers should be a Heisman Trophy candidate.

Rodgers, a sophomore, ranks second in the nation with 14 rushing touchdowns and 10th with 115 yards rushing per game. He's also caught 42 passes for 279 yards with a touchdown.

And he's not fumbled once. In his career. In 478 touches.

He's also piled up his numbers this season against two top-10 teams and another ranked 20th. Four of the defenses he's faced rank among the nation's top 32. Three rank among the top 20 in run defense.

Rodgers has been piling up his numbers running behind a line that replaced three starters and presently starts a true freshman tackle and a former walk-on at guard on the left side.

Remember how he ripped apart USC last year for 186 yards and two touchdowns as a true freshman? Well, he got 113 yards and a score on Saturday in the Beavers' 42-36 loss in the Coliseum, playing much of the game, by the way, on a sprained ankle.

So throw in the toughness factor.

Riley doesn't have much used-car salesman in him. He's not a guy who's going to hyperventilate over his players in an effort to grab the national spotlight.

But you get the sense he wants some for Rodgers. Why? Because Rodgers deserves it.

"In a ton of ways, he's playing at the highest level in the country," Riley said. "If you are looking for someone with a deal like that, I do not see what he wouldn't qualify."

Oregon State 's schedule ahead is easier than what came before. The Beavers host a struggling UCLA team on Saturday. Rodgers still gets to face the conference's two worst run defense -- Washington and Washington State -- on consecutive November weekends.

There are two measuring-stick games: at California on Nov. 7 and the season finale at Oregon on Dec. 3.

If the Beavers can beat UCLA and Cal, they figure to jump back into the national rankings -- their three losses all came against nationally ranked teams (Cincinnati, Arizona and USC).

If they can carry a four-game winning streak into the Civil War, that rivalry game could have major implications in the national, as well as the Pac-10 pecking order.

And if Rodgers turns in a red-letter performance against the Ducks' stout defense and finishes the season with, say ,1,500 yards and 20-plus touchdowns on the season, the defending Pac-10 offensive player of the year should get more than a pat on the back and a helmet sticker.

He'd deserve an invitation to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony.