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Statement games

Dixon, McFadden make strides after huge outings

Posted: Monday November 5, 2007 2:58PM; Updated: Monday November 5, 2007 3:12PM
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Darren McFadden tied an SEC record with 321 rushing yards against South Carolina.
Darren McFadden tied an SEC record with 321 rushing yards against South Carolina.
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When I first sat down to write this week's Watch, I had placed Dennis Dixon at No. 1 and Tim Tebow No. 2. Before finishing I must have switched the two maybe two or three times. After the events of last week -- Matt Ryan's three-interception game and the A-plus efforts of both Dixon and Tebow -- the race for the stiff-armed statuette could not get any closer at the top.

The ballot if the season ended today:

1. Tim Tebow, Florida, QB, Soph.

Last week: 22-of-27 passing, 281 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT; 6 rushes, 35 yards, 2 TDs in a 49-22 victory against Vanderbilt
Season: 151-of-223 passing, 2,228 yards, 21 TDs, 4 INTs; 144 rushes, 598 yards, 14 TDs
Heisman-o-meter: On one run near the goal line in the third quarter, after lowering his shoulder and burying a hopeless Vandy tackler, Tebow got up, tapped his right shoulder three times and gave Florida fans the OK sign to let them know his supposedly bruised wing is fine. We'll have to trust Tebow that the shoulder is not a problem, but there's no questioning this stat: Before the injury he ran the ball 17.9 times a game. Since the injury? 9.5. He's not a worse quarterback because of the shoulder, just a different one. The leader by a hair.
Up next: Saturday at South Carolina

2. Dennis Dixon, Oregon, QB, Sr.

Last week: 13-of-22 passing, 189 yards, 4 TDs; 11 rushes, 57 yards in a 35-23 victory against No. 6 Arizona State
Season: 167-of-246 passing, 2,074 yards, 20 TDs, 3 INTs; 103 rushes, 549 yards, 8 TDs
Heisman-o-meter: Dixon had perhaps the best opening 16 minutes of any player this season with three touchdown passes, before cooling off through the air and then leaving in the fourth quarter with a strained knee that's not serious. After this mega-effort, I expect many to crown Dixon the frontrunner, but, while I think this is a virtual dead-heat, I'll stick with Tebow. In my opinion, Tebow has been a slightly better runner and passer this season, and, even though his team has lost two more games than Dixon's, Tebow played well in those losses. It was not as if he cost them those games. Still, this race is as close as two can get.
Up next: Nov. 15 at Arizona

3. Darren McFadden, Arkansas, RB, Jr.

Last week: 35 rushes, 321 yards, 1 TD; 1-of-1 passing, 23 yards, 1 TD; 1 reception, 4 yards; 2 kickoff returns, 30 yards in a 48-36 victory against No. 23 South Carolina
Season: 223 rushes, 1,314 yards, 12 TDs; 2-of-3 passing, 65 yards, 2 TDs; 14 receptions, 97 yards; 9 kickoff returns, 171 yards
Heisman-o-meter: Welcome back, D-Mac. After slipping down the list in the past month, McFadden had arguably the single best performance of any Heisman contender all season, all the more remarkable considering he had 260 of his rushing yards in the last 32 minutes (and after Gamecocks safety Emanuel Cook absolutely lit him up in the first half, forcing a fumble). He's back in the race, but, in this opinion, he needs to produce in each of the next three games to make up ground on Dixon and Tebow, who have been brilliant more consistently.
Up next: Saturday at No. 22 Tennessee

4. Mike Hart, Michigan, RB, Sr.

Last week: 15 rushes, 110 yards in a 28-24 victory at Michigan State
Season: 215 rushes, 1,188 yards, 12 TDs; 7 receptions, 43 yards
Heisman-o-meter: Playing sparingly on that injured right ankle, Hart gutted through his first game in three weeks, getting most of his yardage on two long runs. But he limped off the field twice against the Spartans, and ABC showed more shots of Hart on the sideline than him with the ball. I love that he has produced every week he has been able to play, but that ankle injury looks as if it will bother Hart the rest of the season.
Up next: Saturday at Wisconsin

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