Alabama RB Mark Ingram runs away with Halfway Heisman
With sterling performance vs. South Carolina, Alabama's Mark Ingram made mark
Ndamukong Suh wreaked havoc up front, though Nebraska lost to Texas Tech
Tim Tebow's skill and instinct keep him among the top Heisman contenders
This is the fourth straight year that The Watch has named a Halfway Heisman Trophy winner midway through the season. The first two recipients, Ohio State's Troy Smith and Florida's Tim Tebow, went on to win the real Trophy in December. Last year's Halfway Heisman winner, Colt McCoy, got our vote at the end of the season, but not the nation's.
So after a wild and strange first half of the season, in which no one seemed to win the award, the Halfway Heisman Trophy for 2009 goes to ...
1. Mark Ingram, Alabama, RB, Soph.
Last week: 24 rushes, 246 yards, 1 TD; 2 receptions, 23 yards in a 20-6 victory over No. 22 South Carolina
Season: 135 rushes, 905 yards, 8 TDs; 19 receptions, 186 yards, 3 TDs
Heisman-o-meter: As Saturday afternoon rolled into Saturday night, and each of the top Heisman candidates did little to help their cases, I began to worry that maybe we'd not award the Halfway Heisman Trophy this year. Then along came Ingram, who turned in a special rushing performance and vaulted into the top spot. He dazzled against a Gamecocks defense that really didn't have to worry about getting beat by quarterback Greg McElroy. Ingram (who went out early in the game with what looked like a serious leg or knee injury) ran with power, shiftiness and explosiveness, but, most importantly, timeliness. With 7:55 left in the game and Alabama up 13-6, Ingram took the ball on all six of the Tide's plays (the first five out of the Wildcat) and ran the ball right at South Carolina for 68 yards and the game-sealing touchdown. The performance capped a brilliant first half of the season for Ingram.
Up next: Saturday vs. Tennessee
2. Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska, DT, Sr.
Last week: 4 tackles, 4 solo; 2 tackles for loss; 4 quarterback hurries in a 31-10 loss to Texas Tech
Season: 36 tackles, 19 solo; 9 tackles for loss; 3 sacks; 1 interception; 7 passes broken up; 9 quarterback hurries; 1 forced fumble
Heisman-o-meter: How, you ask, can The Watch still have Suh at No. 2 after his defense allowed 31 points in a loss to Texas Tech? Just watch the first half on Saturday. He was his disruptive self, applying pressure, occupying double teams and generally wreaking havoc up front. Early in the game, he forced quarterback Steven Sheffield into an intentional grounding penalty and later had a crushing tackle on the quarterback. Then, on three straight plays, at the end of the half, Suh was able to apply pressure on each one, helping hold Tech to a field goal. In the second half the Red Raiders did a better job controlling him, and their quick passing game nullified much of his strengths. Overall, the Nebraska defense didn't play all that poorly in allowing 24 points to the country's No. 2 scoring offense (seven of Tech's points came from a defensive score), but the Huskers' offense couldn't hold up their end, which is why The Watch will not penalize Suh for the loss.
Up next: Saturday vs. Iowa State
3. Tim Tebow, Florida, QB, Sr.
Last week: 17-of-26 passing, 255 yards, 1 TD; 27 rushes, 69 yards in a 23-20 victory over Arkansas
Season: 72-of-110 passing, 1,032 yards, 8 TDs, 2 INTs; 99 rushes, 378 yards, 5 TDs
Heisman-o-meter: There are many anti-Tebow readers who claim the Florida quarterback should be nowhere near the top of this list, citing his pedestrian stat line in comparison to others. But Tebow's value cannot be measured in numbers alone. Take Saturday's game, for instance: With Florida's undefeated season and 15-game winning streak at stake, and his team trailing 20-13, Tebow drove the Gators 67 and 69 yards for two scores to pull out the win. On the team's final drive, he converted a clutch third-and-10 to Riley Cooper and added 22 important yards on the ground. It's not just what Tebow does but when he does it that makes him unique. (But if you ask me, yes, the two fumbles and six sacks were ugly.)
Up next: Saturday at Mississippi State
4. Golden Tate, Notre Dame, WR, Jr.
Last week: 8 receptions, 117 yards, 2 TDs; 1 rush, 3 yards; 1 punt return, 2 yards; 3 kickoff returns, 62 yards in a 34-27 loss to No. 6 USC
Season: 41 receptions, 719 yards, 6 TDs; 14 rushes, 96 yards, 1 TD; 5 punt returns, 39 yards; 3 kickoff returns, 62 yards
Heisman-o-meter: Every week there seems to be a different receiver on this list. Remember Dez Bryant, A.J. Green and Jordan Shipley? This week it's Tate, who has been on the verge of cracking The Watch for a while. He has been an all-purpose threat all season, and on Saturday he was terrific, coming down with a jump-ball touchdown catch in double coverage, among his many highlights. He was such a threat that, on Notre Dame's final play, USC brought a safety to help out on the coverage, forcing quarterback Jimmy Clausen to go elsewhere. His team may have lost, but it wasn't because of Tate.
Up next: Saturday vs. Boston College
5. Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame, QB, Jr.
Last week: 24-of-43 passing, 260 yards, 2 TDs; 9 rushes, minus-4 yards, 1 TD in a 34-27 loss to No. 6 USC
Season: 124-of-191 passing, 1,804 yards, 14 TDs, 2 INTs; 32 rushes, minus-49 yards, 1 TD
Heisman-o-meter: Clausen had a tough first half against USC, throwing for just 47 passing yards. And he didn't pull off the signature victory that his Heisman candidacy badly needed, though he sure did make it exciting. The bottom line is this: He has been very good this season (and gutty too, playing on that turf toe), but it is hard to justify voting for a quarterback whose best win came over Michigan State. And a remaining schedule that may have one ranked opponent on it (Pittsburgh) is unlikely to change that.
Up next: Saturday vs. Boston College
6. Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech, RB, Fr.
Last week: 14 rushes, 100 yards, 1 TD; 2 receptions, 22 yards, 1 TD in a 28-23 loss at No. 19 Georgia Tech
Season: 140 rushes, 834 yards, 10 TDs; 9 receptions, 165 yards, 1 TD; 1 punt return, 0 yards
Heisman-o-meter: Williams battled the flu last week and didn't get his usual number of touches on Saturday. And when he did get the ball, he was contained. Twice he was stuffed on third-and-2 deep in Georgia Tech territory. (Once he was stopped on fourth-and-3.) He did, however, break a pretty 66-yard run up the middle for a touchdown and added a short scoring reception out of the backfield when the defense busted an assignment. We realize that the Hokies lost, but Williams remains a big-time back.
Up next: Oct. 29 vs. North Carolina
7. Case Keenum, Houston, QB, Jr.
Last week: 30-of-43 passing, 334 yards, 2 TDs; 2 rushes, 12 yards in a 44-16 victory at Tulane
Season: 213-of-305 passing, 2,464 yards, 19 TDs, 4 INTs; 23 rushes, 76 yards, 3 TDs; 1 punt, 15 yards
Heisman-o-meter: The slow start notwithstanding (Houston led 9-6 at halftime) this was your typical Keenum day; he spread out the touches, got the ball to the playmakers in space and let them do their work. On his first touchdown pass, Keenum kept the play alive by rolling to his right before finding James Cleveland in the back of the end zone. On his second TD throw, he hit a wide open L.J. Castile on a quick slant. After that loss at UTEP, my guess is that it'll be hard for Keenum to get serious consideration even though he deserves it. He needs to hope that Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, which were both Keenum victims earlier this year, keep winning.
Up next: Saturday vs. SMU
8. Tony Pike, Cincinnati, QB, Sr.
Last week: 12-of-25 passing, 140 yards, 2 TDs; 5 rushes, minus-15 yards in a 34-17 victory at No. 21 South Florida
Season: 128-of-199 passing, 1,633 yards, 15 TDs, 3 INTs; 19 rushes, 26 yards, 2 TDs
Heisman-o-meter: It has been several days since the Bearcats' win over South Florida, so the news about Pike has gotten around: Late in the first half, he sprained his left, non-throwing wrist, aggravating a plate in his forearm in a fall against the Bulls. He tried to play in the second half but couldn't. Pike was examined Friday, and a determination on his injury was set to come Monday. Obviously, if he misses any extended amount of time, it would be difficult to keep him on the list. Here's to a quick recovery.
Up next: Saturday against Louisville
9. Dezmon Briscoe, Kansas, WR, Jr.
Last week: 8 receptions, 154 yards, 1 TD; 2 kickoff returns, 41 yards in a 34-30 loss at Colorado
Season: 38 receptions, 671 yards, 4 TDs; 12 kickoff returns, 219 yards; 1 rush, 20 yards, 1 TD
Heisman-o-meter: Teammate Todd Reesing was on here last week, but after reconsidering (and watching the Colorado game) Briscoe is the Jayhawk who really deserves to be on here. This 6-foot-3 beast always seems to be open, even when he's covered and has been a monster in every game this year. He beat single coverage on his 25-yard touchdown catch that put Kansas up 30-27 in the fourth quarter, and he twice came this close to coming down with TD passes that would've won the game. Imagine where he'd be on this list if he had connected for scores.
Up next: Saturday vs. No. 25 Oklahoma
10. Ryan Mathews, Fresno State, RB, Jr.
Last week: 20 rushes, 233 yards, 1 TD in a 41-21 victory against San Jose State
Season: 131 rushes, 974 yards, 7 TDs; 4 receptions, 41 yards
Heisman-o-meter: The Watch will omit Mathews no longer. Ever since seeing the talented Bulldogs back two years ago, we've been a fan of Mathews; he just has been too injury prone to make the list. Now healthy, Mathews has been a force this year, leading the nation in rushing -- by more than 25 yards per game. The most impressive thing is that he's not doing this against WAC lightweights. Against Wisconsin, Boise State and Cincinnati he averaged 162 yards. Noel Devine, Dion Lewis, Jacquizz Rodgers and C.J. Spiller are running backs who could have been on here as well.
Up next: Saturday at New Mexico State
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