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Posted: Monday October 12, 2009 2:08PM; Updated: Monday October 12, 2009 3:43PM
Gene Menez Gene Menez >
HEISMAN WATCH

After extreme makeover, Clausen on top heading into USC battle

Story Highlights

Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen moves to No. 1, but he may not stay there for long

Tim Tebow played against LSU but he wasn't the difference for Florida on Saturday

A defensive player moves up to No. 2: Nebraska mamouth DT Ndamukong Suh

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If Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen leads the Irish past USC on Saturday, he'll have a good shot at the Heisman.
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Heisman 2009

It is time for Extreme Makeover: Heisman Watch Edition. For five weeks this list has stuck by the usual suspects despite the fact that many of them underperformed due to injury, inaccuracy or indifference. Well, now that we have a much larger sample of games, it is time to blow up The Watch, take a look at all the evidence and start from scratch. Half of these players weren't on the list last week, including two of the top three. This Heisman season has been so crazy that next week's Halfway Heisman Trophy could go to anyone on this list -- and maybe even to someone not on it.

1. Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame, QB, Jr.

Last week: Idle

Season: 100-of-148 passing, 1,544 yards, 12 TDs, 2 INTs; 23 rushes, minus-45 yards

Heisman-o-meter: With a lot of the top contenders looking pretty average last week, the Irish quarterback ascends to the top spot for the first time. Clausen leads the nation in passing efficiency. He's a lukewarm frontrunner only because he has put up big numbers against weak foes, but on Saturday the level of competition takes a significant step up in USC. It's safe to say that no other game on Clausen's schedule will have a bigger impact on his chances to become Notre Dame's eighth Heisman winner than Saturday's.

Up next: Saturday vs. No. 6 USC

2. Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska, DT, Sr.

Last week: 6 tackles, 5 solo; 1 tackle for loss; 1 sack; 1 forced fumble; 1 interception; 1 pass broken up in a 27-12 victory at No. 24 Missouri

Season: 32 tackles, 15 solo; 7 tackles for loss; 3 sacks; 1 interception, 7 passes broken up; 1 forced fumble

Heisman-o-meter: The Huskers' dominant attack man almost cracked the list after an amazing performance in the loss to Virginia Tech on Sept. 19. After an arguably better effort against Missouri last Thursday, Suh not only cracks the list but crashes the top two. The Tigers could not block this 300-pound tackle with a relentless motor (his sack and strip of Blaine Gabbert was key in the win), and he produced a stat line that you don't see from defensive linemen. Without question the most mind boggling Suh fact is that he is tied for sixth in the country at passes defended (1.6 per game), a list dominated by defensive backs; no other lineman ranks in the top 97.

Up next: Saturday vs. Texas Tech

3. Jordan Shipley, Texas, WR, Sr.

Last week: 11 receptions, 147 yards, 1 TD; 3 punt returns, 88 yards, 1 TD; 2 kickoff returns, 38 yards in a 38-14 victory over Colorado

Season: 47 receptions, 583 yards, 3 TDs; 14 punt returns, 265 yards, 2 TDs; 2 kickoff returns, 38 yards; 1 rush, 0 yards

Heisman-o-meter: We've been hinting since Week 1 that Shipley should be getting some love, and he is more than worthy of this spot. Against the Buffaloes, he continued his all-purpose wizardry with a 39-yard TD catch -- which came after a nifty double move and ignited the Horns' comeback -- and a 74-yard punt return for a score. (To be fair he did allow a catchable Colt McCoy pass to bounce off his hands, resulting in an interception.) People who have not watched Shipley regularly this year may not realize that he has been doing this all season; he has scored in all but one game. McCoy may be more valuable to the offense (he handles the ball five times as much as Shipley per game), but so far this season Shipley has been much better at his tasks than McCoy has been at his.

Up next: Saturday vs. No. 20 Oklahoma in Dallas

4. Tony Pike, Cincinnati, QB, Sr.

Last week: Idle

Season: 116-of-174 passing, 1,493 yards, 13 TDs, 3 INTs; 14 rushes, 41 yards, 2 TDs

Heisman-o-meter: The Watch will take an educated guess and say that Pike probably has not received many accolades nationally since he plays for a Big East team that can only claim Oregon State as its best win to date. That can change on Thursday night when Pike and the Bearcats face a South Florida defense that ranks fifth in scoring and ninth against the pass. Just like Clausen, the biggest game on Pike's Heisman résumé comes this week. He must play well to be invited to New York in December.

Up next: Thursday at No. 21 South Florida

5. Tim Tebow, Florida, QB, Sr.

Last week: 11-of-16 passing, 134 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 17 rushes, 38 yards in a 13-3 victory at No. 4 LSU

Season: 55-of-84 passing, 777 yards, 7 TDs, 2 INTs; 72 rushes, 309 yards, 5 TDs

Heisman-o-meter: Tebow played. That was the big question going into Saturday's game in Baton Rouge, but at a time when his Heisman campaign could've used a bump, he didn't have his usual impact on the outcome. Tebow himself said afterward that he was more of a game manager than playmaker. Sure, he threw a score to Riley Cooper, but he also threw an interception, which he said was the result of his own "bad decision." So last week's No. 1 falls a bit, and if you think he should be lower on the list or not on it at all, I can see that argument.

The Watch will stick by him because he still ranks third in the nation in passing efficiency and has accounted for 309 yards and five scores on the ground. But the guess here is that he'll continue to fall because the Gators don't need Tebow to be the Tebow of 2007 since they have so many other playmakers and a filthy defense to win games.

Up next: Saturday vs. Arkansas

6. Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech, RB, Fr.

Last week: 18 rushes, 159 yards, 1 TD; 1 reception, 23 yards in a 48-14 victory over Boston College

Season: 126 rushes, 734 yards, 9 TDs; 7 receptions, 143 yards; 1 punt return, 0 yards

Heisman-o-meter: Williams has been on the verge of making this list for a few weeks, and he finally breaks in after repeatedly gashing Boston College. The redshirt freshman has great feet, which he showed on a first quarter carry that required him to hesitate behind a blocker before accelerating (and nearly scoring) down the left sideline. He gained 138 of his yards by halftime and barely played in the third quarter. But perhaps the most significant development on Saturday was the continued improvement of the passing game for the Hokies, who now seem to have a balanced and dangerous offense.

Up next: Saturday at No. 19 Georgia Tech

7. Mark Ingram, Alabama, RB, Soph.

Last week: 28 rushes, 172 yards, 1 TD; 3 receptions, 16 yards in a 22-3 victory at No. 20 Mississippi

Season: 111 rushes, 659 yards, 7 TDs; 17 receptions, 163 yards, 3 TDs

Heisman-o-meter: Running backs have come and gone on this list (Jonathan Dwyer, Jahvid Best and Jacquizz Rodgers to name three), and now one comes back. Ingram, who made The Watch after Week 1, returns after his third 100-yard rushing game this season. The 'Bama back, who runs with a combination of power and quickness, was not touched on his touchdown jaunt and piled up a lot of yards late in the game as the Tide controlled the clock. Other running backs may have more impressive season totals, but Ingram missed some time because of the flu. The only thing that's keeping him from being a regular member of this list is 'Bama's deep stable of backs with whom Ingram shares the workload.

Up next: Saturday vs. No. 22 South Carolina

8. Case Keenum, Houston, QB, Jr.

Last week: 39-of-52 passing, 434 yards, 4 TDs, 2 INTs; 3 rushes, 13 yards in a 31-24 victory at Mississippi State

Season: 183-of-262 passing, 2,130 yards, 17 TDs, 4 INTs; 21 rushes, 64 yards, 3 TDs; 1 punt, 15 yards

Heisman-o-meter: Keenum led a Cougars offense that moved the ball almost at will against the Bulldogs. He did however throw two ugly interceptions, one that was returned for a touchdown and one that was picked near the goal line just when Houston was about to score. (To be fair, Keenum did have one would-be touchdown pass that was dropped.) If you chose your Heisman winner based on statistics, then Keenum's your man, but stats are misleading and very poor measuring sticks.

Up next: Saturday at Tulane

9. Colt McCoy, Texas, QB, Sr.

Last week: 32-of-39 passing, 265 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 6 rushes, minus-3 yards in a 38-14 victory over Colorado

Season: 135-of-184 passing, 1,410 yards, 10 TDs, 6 INTs; 34 rushes, 58 yards, 1 TD

Heisman-o-meter: Go ahead. Call me crazy for keeping McCoy on The Watch. There probably are many more deserving candidates for this spot than McCoy, who lost a fumble to Colorado and nickel-and-pennied the Buffaloes to death. (If you don't count the 39-yard pass to Shipley, McCoy's other completions averaged, gulp, 7.3 yards.) The reason why he's still on here is because, from the beginning of the season, his Heisman candidacy comes down to his October slate: vs. Oklahoma, at Missouri and at Oklahoma State. If he plays well and wins, he's still in the hunt. If not, this will be the last you will see of him.

Up next: Saturday vs. No. 20 Oklahoma in Dallas

10. Todd Reesing, Kansas, QB, Sr.

Last week: 37-of-49 passing, 442 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT; 5 rushes, 12 yards, 1 TD in a 41-36 victory over Iowa State

Season: 133-of-192 passing, 1,579 yards, 13 TDs, 3 INTs; 42 rushes, 101 yards, 3 TDs

Heisman-o-meter: When I originally wrote this, Miami quarterback Jacory Harris was in this spot. Harris does have victories over Oklahoma and Georgia Tech, but The Watch has been overvaluing Harris' win over Florida State, which doesn't look so good now. So the choice is Reesing, who has been flirting with making the list for a while. He set a career high in passing yardage and showed some nice touch on a touchdown throw to Dezmon Briscoe, but 49 pass attempts against Iowa State? Seriously? And with less than three minutes left and a chance to seal the win by converting a short third down, Reesing short-hopped a pass to a wide open Johnathan Wilson. You would think that Heisman winners would make the play.

Up next: Saturday at Colorado

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