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Moment of truth

Revived Smith could clinch Heisman this weekend

Posted: Monday November 13, 2006 1:43PM; Updated: Monday November 13, 2006 2:25PM
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Troy Smith got his game in order just in time for the huge showdown with Michigan.
Troy Smith got his game in order just in time for the huge showdown with Michigan.
John Biever/SI
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The biggest storyline in Saturday's showdown between No. 1 Ohio State and No. 2 Michigan is, of course, the winner advancing to play in the BCS championship game. There is a secondary storyline however: Whether Buckeyes quarterback Troy Smith can lock up the Heisman Trophy. He has been the one to catch since leading Ohio State to victory at Texas in Week 2, and a good performance against Michigan would likely seal the top spot, at least in these eyes.

The one thing however that has kept Smith ahead of No. 2 Brady Quinn in this column is Quinn's implosion against the Wolverines back in September. If Michigan embarrasses Smith the way it embarrassed Quinn two months ago, which I think is unlikely but still possible, we could very well have a new leader next week.

1. Troy Smith, Ohio State, QB, Sr.

Last week: 12-of-19 passing, 185 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT; 5 rushes, 15 yards in a 54-10 victory at Northwestern
Season: 170-of-256 passing, 2,191 yards, 26 TDs, 4 INTs; 58 rushes, 221 yards, 1 TD
Heisman-o-meter: When I heard last week that Smith had been playing with a sore right thumb, my first thought was that it was an excuse for some pedestrian numbers the previous two weeks. Saturday's effortless outing made me wonder more. He looked unaffected by the thumb, throwing passes with his normal zip. Either the thumb suddenly got better or Smith simply got back on track after a very temporary glitch. I'm leaning toward the latter.
Up next: Saturday vs. No. 2 Michigan

2. Brady Quinn, Notre Dame, QB, Sr.

Last week: 14-of-19 passing, 207 yards, 4 TDs in a 39-17 victory at Air Force
Season: 230-of-357 passing, 2,786 yards, 29 TDs, 4 INTs; 63 rushes, minus-41 yards; 2 TDs
Heisman-o-meter: Let's hope the Air Force Academy is better at getting to the enemies of the United States than it was at getting to Quinn. The Irish signal caller, who moved up from No. 3, had all day to pick apart a Falcons defense that was barely more than a rumor with cool helmets. The main reason he didn't have a more prolific day was his own defense's inability to get the Air Force offense off the field.
Up next: Saturday vs. Army

3. Darren McFadden, Arkansas, RB, Soph.

Last week: 30 rushes, 181 yards, 2 TDs; 1 reception, 6 yards; 1 kickoff return, 17 yards; 1-of-1 passing, 12 yards, 1 TD in a 31-14 victory against No. 13 Tennessee
Season: 197 rushes, 1,219 yards, 12 TDs; 8 receptions, 115 yards, 1 TD; 6 kickoff returns, 132 yards; 2-of-2 passing, 21 yards, 2 TDs
Heisman-o-meter: D-Mac jumps from No. 9 on the list because, after his mind-blowing performance against the Vols, I couldn't justify ranking another running back ahead of him. He hits the hole quicker than anyone (this includes Steve Slaton) and when he takes the snap in the shotgun, his speed and decision making make the formation a devastating weapon. He even threw his second touchdown pass of the season on Saturday night. Is there anything this guy can't do?
Up next: Saturday at Mississippi State

4. Mike Hart, Michigan, RB, Jr.

Last week: 19 rushes, 92 yards, 1 TD in a 34-3 victory at Indiana
Season: 278 rushes, 1,373 yards, 11 TDs; 13 receptions, 122 yards
Heisman-o-meter: Last week's No. 2 did nothing wrong. He bulled his way to 89 rushing yards in the first half and was not needed in the second half, carrying the ball only once. He dropped however strictly in light of McFadden's sick skills. The guess here is that Hart will make a case to move back up this list with a big effort on Saturday.
Up next: Saturday at No. 1 Ohio State

5. Colt McCoy, Texas, QB, Fr.

Last week: 4-of-4 passing, 51 yards; 2 rushes, 1 yard, 1 TD in a 45-42 loss at Kansas State
Season: 174-of-250 passing, 2,102 yards, 27 TDs, 4 INTs; 64 rushes, 181 yards, 2 TDs
Heisman-o-meter: With McCoy playing only one series before leaving with a shoulder/neck stinger, we learned just how important he has become to the Longhorns' offense. Without him, Texas' once-crisp passing game suffered a rash of incompletions, drops, and sacks, partially because backup Jevan Snead played as you would expect an inexperienced true freshman quarterback to play.
Up next: Nov. 24 vs. Texas A&M


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