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Posted: Monday October 6, 2008 2:39PM; Updated: Tuesday October 7, 2008 2:29PM
Gene Menez Gene Menez >
HEISMAN WATCH

The Battle of the Big 12

Story Highlights
  • Big 12 QBs Chase Daniel, Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy battle for the top spot
  • WR Jeremy Maclin and QB Graham Harrell give the Big 12 five of the 10 spots
  • After South Florida's loss to Pitt, QB Matt Grothe falls out of the top 10
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Sam Bradford
Saturday's Oklahoma-Texas game is a potential Heisman-maker or breaker for QBs Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy.
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Is it Daniel-Bradford-McCoy? Or is it McCoy-Daniel-Bradford? Or is it some other combination? Since the start of the season, separating these three quarterbacks has been a hair-splitting exercise. But finally, after six weeks of lighting up vastly inferior foes, The Watch's top three quarterbacks will face each other in a mini round robin the next two weeks. Sam Bradford and No. 1 Oklahoma meet Colt McCoy and No. 5 Texas on Saturday in Dallas. The following week, McCoy and the Longhorns host current leader Chase Daniel and Missouri in Austin. These two games could have more impact on the chase for the stiff armed statuette than any others, and the survivor from this quasi Big 12 football tournament may very well be your winner in New York on Dec. 13.

For more on the preposterous number the Big 12's prolific quarterbacks have put up, check out Austin Murphy's story in this week's SI.

1. Chase Daniel, Missouri, QB, Sr.

Last week: 18-of-23 passing, 253 yards, 3 TDs; 1 rush, 0 yards in a 52-17 victory at Nebraska.
Season: 119-of-156 passing, 1,665 yards, 15 TDs, 1 INT; 15 rushes, 74 yards.
Heisman-o-meter: You know those halftime contests Dr. Pepper sponsors (or, at least, used to sponsor) in which some fan tries to win $1 million by throwing a football from something like 30 yards into a hole about the size of a small pizza? Well, if anyone could pull that off, it would be Daniel, whose uncanny accuracy never seems to take a vacation day. The Watch's two favorite throws from his three quarters of work against Nebraska both went to Danario Alexander in the third quarter: the 20-yard strike in a tight passing window and the 26-yard touchdown over two defenders. The Watch can't wait for Daniel to play a team with a stout defense, though it's doubtful that'll come Saturday. Expect a high-scoring game and Daniel to hit the statistical lottery against the Cowboys.
Up next: Saturday vs. No. 17 Oklahoma State.

2. Sam Bradford, Oklahoma, QB, Soph.

Last week: 23-of-31 passing, 372 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT; 2 rushes, 4 yards, 1 TD in a 49-17 victory at Baylor.
Season: 106-of-146 passing, 1,665 yards, 18 TDs, 3 INTs; 10 rushes, minus-23 yards, 2 TDs.
Heisman-o-meter: Bradford found two more wide open receivers (first Manuel Johnson, then Juaquin Iglesias) for long scores and prompted The Watch to wonder if any other quarterback has receivers who get behind defenders more than Bradford. Texas' Colt McCoy definitely doesn't have receivers who get the kind of separation that the Sooners' receivers do, and it's debatable if even Daniel does (though tight end Chase Coffman often has the physical edge over his defender). Still, the quarterback has to hit the open man, and Bradford does that. Next up: a possible Heisman-making game against the Longhorns. Texas' secondary is young (two freshmen and one sophomore) but has grown up quickly over the course of the season, benefiting from the team's improved pass rush. (Texas leads the nation in sacks per game with 3.8.) If the Sooners can protect Bradford, and they usually do, there should be the potential for big plays.
Up next: Saturday vs. No. 5 Texas in Dallas.

3. Charles Scott, LSU, RB, Jr.

Last week: Idle.
Season: 71 rushes, 535 yards, 6 TDs; 4 receptions, 37 yards.
Heisman-o-meter: Shifty Arkansas running back Michael Smith rolled up 133 rushing yards last week against Scott's next opponent, Florida, which has now allowed 281 rushing yards in its last two SEC games. The bulldozing Scott, at 5-foot-11 and 233 pounds, is a different kind of back, but he'll be looking for the same kind of success.
Up next: Saturday at No. 11 Florida.

4. Colt McCoy, Texas, QB, Jr.

Last week: 23-of-30 passing, 262 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs; 11 rushes, 39 yards in a 38-14 victory at Colorado.
Season: 103-of-130 passing, 1,280 yards, 16 TDs, 3 INTs; 45 rushes, 317 yards, 4 TDs; 1 punt, 44 yards.
Heisman-o-meter: McCoy escapes from seemingly impossible situations so often, The Watch wonders if his real surname isn't actually MacGyver. On Saturday, the resourceful McCoy turned another broken play into a big play, finding running back Chris Ogbonnaya for a 65-yard catch-and-run touchdown just as he was about to cross the line of scrimmage. McCoy did throw two interceptions (one more than he had all season), the second of which bounced off his receiver's hands. If the Texas triggerman can avoid turnovers against the Sooners and make the usual plays with his feet, he might be the Halfway Heisman winner.
Up next: Saturday vs. No. 1 Oklahoma in Dallas.

5. Jeremy Maclin, Missouri, WR, Soph.

Last week: 5 receptions, 89 yards, 1 TD; 3 rushes, 15 yards; 2 kickoff returns, 56 yards in a 52-17 victory at Nebraska.
Season: 31 receptions, 480 yards, 5 TDs; 11 rushes, 58 yards, 1 TD; 12 punt returns, 123 yards; 9 kickoff returns, 273 yards, 1 TD.
Heisman-o-meter: Maclin started off the Nebraska game by racing through the Cornhuskers' defense on the third play from scrimmage for a 58-yard touchdown. He also almost scored a rushing touchdown, but otherwise Maclin didn't do much else as Daniel, Alexander and underrated running back Derrick Washington took over. With Daniel leading the Heisman chase, the Biletnikoff award would be a great accomplishment for this Tiger terror.
Up next: Saturday vs. No. 17 Oklahoma State.

6. Max Hall, BYU, QB, Jr.

Last week: 23-of-37 passing, 303 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs; 4 rushes, 1 yard in a 34-14 victory at Utah State.
Season: 130-of-181 passing, 1,587 yards, 17 TDs, 4 INTs; 10 rushes, 17 yards, 1 TD.
Heisman-o-meter: Hall keeps inching up the list, not so much because of what he's doing, but because people ahead of him keep dropping. After an uneven performance against an Aggies team that's one of the worst in the nation, Hall himself said, "Obviously, it wasn't our best day. I did a lot of things I wish I could've done differently." On Saturday he faces a Lobos defense that allowed 469 passing yards to another prolific passer, Tulsa's Paul Johnson.
Up next: Saturday vs. New Mexico.

7. Daryll Clark, Penn State, QB, Sr.

Last week: 18-of-26 passing, 220 yards; 9 rushes, 2 yards, 1 TD in a 20-6 victory at Purdue.
Season: 80-of-124 passing, 1,116 yards, 9 TDs, 1 INT; 32 rushes, 133 yards, 4 TDs.
Heisman-o-meter: His stats cannot keep up with the pass-happy quarterbacks above, but he, not running back Evan Royster, is the catalyst of the Nittany Lions' spread HD offense. In a game against Purdue that seemed to fly by, Clark demonstrated his usual pocket poise mixed in with just enough mobility to keep the Boilermakers off-balance. Royster has been really good and could be on the list as well, but the choice here is Clark.
Up next: Saturday at Wisconsin.

8. Donald Brown, Connecticut, RB, Jr.

Last week: 18-of-26 passing, 220 yards; 9 rushes, 2 yards, 1 TD in a 20-6 victory at Purdue.
Season: 80-of-124 passing, 1,116 yards, 9 TDs, 1 INT; 32 rushes, 133 yards, 4 TDs.
Heisman-o-meter: His stats can't keep up with the pass-happy quarterbacks above, but Clark, not running back Evan Royster, is the catalyst of the Nittany Lions' spread HD offense. In a game against Purdue that seemed to fly by, Clark demonstrated his usual pocket poise and mixed in just enough mobility to keep the Boilermakers off-balance. Royster has been really good and could be on the list as

Last week: 33 rushes, 161 yards, 1 TD; 5 receptions, 4 yards in a 38-12 loss at North Carolina.
Season: 179 rushes, 1,067 yards, 12 TDs; 14 receptions, 54 yards.
Heisman-o-meter: The Watch hates to move up a guy whose team lost by 26 points, especially when 73 of that player's 161 rushing yards came in the fourth quarter, when the outcome of the game (the Huskies trailed 38-6 going into the quarter) was all but decided. Still, Brown has been consistently good all season and, as with Hall, the guys ahead of Brown play as if they don't want to be there.
Up next: Oct. 18 at Rutgers.

9. Javon Ringer, Michigan State, RB, Sr.

Last week: 25 rushes, 91 yards; 1 reception, 3 yards in a 16-13 victory over Iowa.
Season: 212 rushes, 988 yards, 12 TDs; 7 receptions, 60 yards; 11 kickoff returns, 224 yards.
Heisman-o-meter: We pointed out last week that we need to see more Heisman-worthy play out of Ringer, who, entering the Iowa game, was averaging 4.8 yards per carry, fourth-worst among last week's top 30 rushers. Nothing that happened against the Hawkeyes changed The Watch's stance. The only time Ringer got loose was in the fourth quarter on a 29-yard run in which he juked safety Brett Greenwood. Ringer earns praise for always being at his best in the fourth quarter, but one could argue Iowa's Shonn Greene was the more impressive running back in this game ... and maybe even more deserving of this spot.
Up next: Saturday at Northwestern.

10. Graham Harrell, Texas Tech, QB, Sr.

Last week: 38-of-51 passing, 454 yards, 6 TDs; 1 rush, 1 yard, 1 TD in a 58-28 victory at Kansas State.
Season: 158-of-237 passing, 2,027 yards, 18 TDs, 3 INTs; 9 rushes, minus-5 yards, 2 TDs.
Heisman-o-meter: The Watch had more trouble picking the No. 10 candidate than Sarah Palin had choosing a Supreme Court ruling she opposed. Greene, Royster, Glen Coffee, Michael Crabtree, Paul Johnson, LeSean McCoy, Juice Williams and the Oklahoma State triplets of Dez Bryant, Kendall Hunter and Zac Robinson were all considered. But The Watch tabbed Harrell, who had a great day in a tough environment, though not against a tough defense. Coach Mike Leach has been critical of the offense this season (Harrell was 19-of-46 with two interceptions against Nevada), but after beating the Wildcats, sound bite machine Leach called Harrell the best quarterback in the country.
Up next: Saturday vs. Nebraska.

 
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