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Lefty, by a long shot

Two games in, Leinart is looking impossible to beat

Posted: Sunday September 18, 2005 5:17PM; Updated: Sunday September 18, 2005 6:08PM
Matt Leinart
Can they engrave a beard on the Heisman?
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Three weeks into the season, I feel I can make two safe predictions: First, a defensive player won't win the Heisman. I'm not saying defensive players don't deserve to be considered; I'm saying the voters will continue their tradition of looking to the other side of the ball. (Sorry, A.J. Hawk and Elvis Dumervil.) And second, a certain L.A. lefty quarterback will be awfully tough to beat. Imagine his numbers if he actually played four quarters.

1. Matt Leinart, QB, USC, Sr.

Last week: 18-of-24 passing, 381 yards, 4 TDs; 2 rushes, 8 yards, TD in a 70-17 victory against Arkansas
Season (2-0): 36-of-48 passing, 713 yards, 7 TDs, INT; 4 rushes, 7 yards, TD

The lowdown: The Heisman folks can start engraving the trophy if Leinart continues playing like he did Saturday night. The GQ QB, sporting the Dan Fouts bearded look, effortlessly rolled up the numbers against the Hogs in a little more than two quarters of action. And for good measure, he even scrambled for a score.

Up next: Saturday at No. 24 Oregon

2. Reggie Bush, RB, USC, Jr.

Last week: 8 rushes, 125 yards, TD; 3 receptions, 70 yards, TD; 2 kick returns, 16 yards in a 70-17 victory against Arkansas
Season (2-0): 20 rushes, 211 yards, 3 TDs; 7 receptions, 128 yards, TD; 3 kickoff returns, 30 yards

The lowdown: The first time he touched the ball, Bush sprinted 76 yards for a TD. The second time he put his hands on it, Bush caught a 29 yard pass for another score. Right now he's the second-best Heisman candidate in the country, but not even the best in his own backfield.

Up next: Saturday at No. 24 Oregon

3. Vince Young, QB, Texas, Jr.

Last week: 8-of-14 passing, 101 yards, INT; 8 rushes, 77 yards in a 51-10 victory against Rice
Season (3-0): 39-of-60 passing, 544 yards, 5 TDs, 4 INT; 35 rushes, 202 yards, TD

The lowdown: The hero against Ohio State wasn't asked to pull off another last-minute escape job on Saturday. Instead, he deferred most of the offensive duties against the Owls to freshman running back Jamaal Charles. One question with Young remains: Will he impress voters with his wins and leadership enough to compensate for his lack of video game-type passing stats?

Up next: Oct. 1 at Missouri

4. Laurence Maroney, RB, Minnesota, Jr.

Last week: 20 rushes, 145 yards, 2 TDs; 3 receptions, 55 yards, TD in a 46-7 victory against Florida Atlantic
Season (3-0): 67 rushes, 481 yards, 6 TDs; 4 receptions, 69 yards, TD

The lowdown: The best running back east of L.A. piled up his numbers in just one half. Now, after running over three opponents (Tulsa, Colorado State and FAU) who were only rumored to have defenses, Maroney and the Gophers should face much more resistance as they begin Big Ten play. Another development may interest Maroney: Backup Gary Russell (116 yards, two TDs) is starting to see action earlier in games.

Up next: Saturday vs. No. 11 Purdue

5. Sam Keller, QB, Arizona State, Jr.

Last week: 20-of-31 passing, 409 yards, 4 TDs in a 52-21 victory against Northwestern
Season: 69-of-111 passing, 1,078 yards, 12 TDs, 2 INTs

The lowdown: Slingin' Sam proved his performance against LSU was not an aberration, throwing for 343 yards and three scores in the first half against the Wildcats. In four career starts dating back to last year's Sun Bowl (in which he was the MVP), Keller has thrown for at least three TDs and 370 yards in three of those games.

Up next: Saturday at Oregon State