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Leading man

Buckeyes' Smith proves himself as the front-runner

Posted: Sunday September 10, 2006 6:46PM; Updated: Monday September 11, 2006 10:09AM
Troy Smith (10) threw for 269 yards and two touchdowns in leading the No. 1 Buckeyes to a 24-7 win at No. 2 Texas.
Troy Smith (10) threw for 269 yards and two touchdowns in leading the No. 1 Buckeyes to a 24-7 win at No. 2 Texas.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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Though the Watch will not be ranked until mid-October, there's no question who would earn this vote through two weeks. Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith played like a Heisman winner in leading the top-ranked Buckeyes over No. 2 Texas on Saturday night. Of course the list remains fluid, and, with the best weekend in college football slated for Saturday, Smith could find much company at the top.

Erik Ainge, Tennessee, QB, Jr.

Last week: 24 of 29 passing, 333 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT in a 31-30 victory against Air Force

Season: 35 of 47 passing, 624 yards, 7 TDs, 2 INTs

Heisman-o-meter: Ainge was omitted from the list last week because his numbers against Cal were hugely inflated by Bears cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson's two awful missed tackles. But Ainge can't be ignored this week after a sharp performance against the Falcons in which he at one point completed 15 straight passes.

Up next: Saturday vs. No. 7 Florida

Chase Daniel, Missouri, QB, Soph.

Last week: 24 of 40 passing, 243 yards, 1 TD; 13 rushes, 89 yards, 1 TD in a 34-7 victory against Mississippi

Season: 47 of 72 passing, 563 yards, 6 TDs; 22 rushes, 62 yards, 1 TD

Heisman-o-meter: Life after Brad Smith is not so bad. Daniel, who ran a prolific spread offense at Southlake (Texas) Carroll High, has the Tigers' no-huddle, up-tempo spread scheme clicking, and he has also exploited defenses on the ground with his excellent quickness.

Up next: Saturday at New Mexico

Mike Hart, Michigan, RB, Jr.

Last week: 19 rushes, 116 yards, 3 TDs in a 41-17 victory against Central Michigan

Season: 50 rushes, 262 yards, 3 TDs

Heisman-o-meter: Since 2004 a popular question around Ann Arbor has been, who's more valuable, Hart or quarterback Chad Henne? The Watchman has always believed it's Hart, who through two games has shown the burst he didn't have during an injury-filled 2005 season. He could become a major player in the Heisman discussion with a big effort against the Irish.

Up next: Saturday at No. 2 Notre Dame

Chris Leak, Florida, QB, Sr.

Last week: 19 of 29 passing, 352 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT in a 42-0 victory against Central Florida

Season: 40 of 59 passing, 600 yards, 7 TDs, 2 INTs

Heisman-o-meter: Maybe Leak has finally got this spread offense down. After looking uncomfortable in coach Urban Meyer's scheme much of last season, Leak looked sharper than he's ever been, passing for a career-high 352 yards and four touchdowns. "This is [Leak's] offense now," Meyer said after the game.

Up next: Saturday at No. 13 Tennessee

Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma, RB, Jr.

Last week: 32 rushes, 165 yards, 2 TDs in a 37-20 victory against Washington

Season: 56 rushes, 304 yards, 3 TDs; 3 receptions, 75 yards, 1 TD

Heisman-o-meter: Peterson was called out last week by offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson for, among other things, dancing too much instead of hitting the hole (a criticism that may not be entirely warranted considering the state of the Sooners' work-in-progress offensive line). And on Saturday, Peterson sure appeared to be a more decisive runner, piling up another 100-yard, multi-touchdown game.

Up next: Saturday at No. 18 Oregon