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Barkley loss alters Heisman race

UGA's Murray new leader in Predictor rankings, with Smith, Miller rising

Updated: September 18, 2012, 10:39 PM ET
By Ryan McCrystal | ESPN Insider

The Stanford Cardinal dealt Matt Barkley's Heisman hopes a devastating blow by upsetting the USC Trojans on Saturday night. As a result, the Heisman race is wide open, with seven players sitting within seven Predictor points of our new leader, Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray.

Barkley surrendered his commanding lead, but the loss is far from the end of the road for him. Barkley lost an unprecedented 20 Predictor points Saturday (10 for USC losing its undefeated record, 10 for USC falling from No. 2 in the AP poll to outside the top 10), but he had built up such an impressive early-season lead that he stands only 6.5 points behind Murray.

A 6.5-point lead in mid-September is essentially meaningless, and Barkley can expect to make up those points as each of the other candidates suffers his first loss of the season. Barkley is still on pace for more than 40 touchdowns, which would make him a viable candidate at season's end if USC rebounds and is selected to a BCS bowl game.

While Barkley can still win the award, to make voters forget about this loss he'll need a signature victory against the Oregon Ducks on Nov. 3. Barkley will not be able to overcome losses to Stanford and Oregon in the same season, especially with both games likely being played on national television.

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