As top contenders fall, Crimson Tide's RB remains in control
For the first time in a while, both Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy dropped off
Mark Ingram's stellar second-half performance against LSU keeps him at No. 1
C.J. Spiller comes in at No. 3 after posting 312 all-purpose yards vs. Florida State
Before we get to who's on the list, let's address who's not. Quarterbacks Colt McCoy of Texas and Tim Tebow of Florida have been prominent members of The Watch for multiple seasons -- and many weeks this season -- but neither made the cut for the first time in who knows how long.
Both are great players and terrific ambassadors for college football, but, based on 2009's results alone (remember, the Heisman is not a career award), neither has been the nation's "most outstanding player." McCoy has been hot the past three weeks (80.9 completion percentage, 303.3 yards and 2 TDs per game), and even coach Mack Brown acknowledged as much in his postgame comments Saturday. "The last three weeks, for sure, we've seen the Colt that we all remember to be as good as anyone in the country," Brown said. The issue is McCoy's start to the season, which included a 127-yard bottoming-out in his team's biggest game of the year, against Oklahoma. The QB threw one interception and could've had two more. And for that showing, McCoy has much catching up to do to be Heisman-worthy.
As for Tebow, he has suffered from the team's lack of a downfield receiving threat and an offensive line that has allowed him to be constantly pressured. The Florida offense is not the same machine of the last two seasons, and, while that is not necessarily Tebow's fault, he's left to build a Heisman résumé around his team's undefeated record and other incidentals. As with McCoy, that's not enough. (An aside: I'm sure both couldn't care less about where they rank in the Heisman race as long as their teams remain undefeated.)
All that said, McCoy and Tebow still seem to get the benefit of the doubt nationally, and if you were to ask The Watch to rank the national race today, we'd predict the following: 1) Mark Ingram, 2) McCoy, 3) Tebow, 4) Case Keenum. But that's just a guess. So could either McCoy or Tebow still win the Heisman? The answer is undoubtedly yes, but it will be hard earning this vote.
1. Mark Ingram, Alabama, RB, Soph.
Last week: 22 rushes, 144 yards; 5 receptions, 30 yards in a 24-15 victory against No. 9 LSU
Season: 175 rushes, 1,148 yards, 8 TDs; 24 receptions, 216 yards, 3 TDs
Heisman-o-meter: After Ingram had just six carries for 38 yards in an offensively inept first 30 minutes, the Tide fed Ingram early and often in the second half and he shouldered much of the load on the team's first two scoring drives in the half. He was his vintage self, darting through holes and hop-cutting by defenders and finished with 106 yards after halftime. His most important carry may have been the least exciting: a two-yard dive on fourth-and-inches in the fourth quarter to seal the win. So what makes him the Heisman leader? In four games against ranked opponents, he has averaged 178 rushing yards.
Up next: Saturday at Mississippi State
2. Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska, DT, Sr.
Last week: 4 tackles, 1 solo; 1 pass broken up; 3 quarterback hurries; 1 blocked kick in a 10-3 victory against No. 20 Oklahoma
Season: 53 tackles, 29 solo; 13 tackles for loss; 5 sacks; 1 interception, 8 passes broken up; 17 quarterback hurries; 1 forced fumble, 3 blocked kicks
Heisman-o-meter: The Watch is under no illusion that Suh has a chance to make it to New York next month, much less win the Heisman; voters love their offensive players just too much. But that won't keep The Watch from giving this relentless attack man the consideration he deserves. Suh again was all over the field, blocking a first-quarter field goal attempt with his right hand and consistently pressuring Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones. (Even though he did not register a sack, one of Nebraska's sacks was the result of his pressure.) On one play he pushed 297-pound Sooners lineman Jarvis Jones, grocery shopping cart-style, back into the Oklahoma quarterback. Heisman voters, it is well past the time to seriously consider this disruptive force.
Up next: Saturday at Kansas
3. C.J. Spiller, Clemson, RB, Sr.
Last week: 22 rushes, 165 yards, 1 TD; 3 receptions, 67 yards, 1 TD; 1 punt return, 9 yards; 3 kickoff returns, 71 yards in a 40-24 victory against Florida State
Season: 135 rushes, 739 yards, 5 TDs; 21 receptions, 334 yards, 3 TDs; 6 punt returns, 191 yards, 1 TD; 15 kickoff returns, 530 yards, 3 TDs; 0-of-1 passing
Heisman-o-meter: After he capped the Tigers' victory with a high-stepping five-yard touchdown run, Spiller struck a Heisman pose. "A baby, a mini one," he called it after the game. With that performance on Saturday night, he is right in the thick of this Heisman logjam. He set a career high in rushing yards (it helped that he got the ball as a runner 22 times, second most of his career) and again was a big-play threat. He showed his speed to the outside on a 45-yard run, easily out-ran a linebacker on his 58-yard TD reception and had another 35-yard run that could've gone for much longer had he not pulled up lame. If the Heisman went to the nation's most exciting player, Spiller would have it locked up.
Up next: Saturday at N.C. State
4. Case Keenum, Houston, QB, Jr.
Last week: 40-of-60 passing, 522 yards, 3 TDs; 6 rushes, 21 yards in a 46-45 victory at Tulsa
Season: 325-of-458 passing, 3,815 yards, 28 TDs, 5 INTs; 41 rushes, 95 yards, 3 TDs
Heisman-o-meter: You can make the case that no player has been as clutch this season as Keenum, who, after fourth-quarter wins against Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Southern Miss, pulled off his most unlikely comeback victory yet on Saturday. Down eight points with 3:23 remaining in the game, he led the Cougars on a TD drive. After the two-point conversion failed (Keenum got sacked, which was the last thing he could afford to have happen), Houston recovered the onside kick, giving the offense one more chance with 20 seconds remaining. Keenum completed two-of-three passes for 27 yards, setting up Matt Hogan's 51-yard, game-winning field goal as time expired. This is how tenuous the Heisman race is: Had Hogan missed that field goal, Keenum's résumé would include losses to UTEP and Tulsa, and he would likely be out of the running. As it is, he's one of the frontrunners.
Up next: Saturday at Central Florida
5. Toby Gerhart, Stanford, RB, Sr.
Last week: 38 rushes, 223 yards, 3 TDs in a 51-42 victory against No. 7 Oregon
Season: 233 rushes, 1,217 yards, 16 TDs; 7 receptions, 78 yards
Heisman-o-meter: The Watch came away from watching this game just as impressed with Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck, but Gerhart still is the engine that powers this offense. The big back is so good that, on a third-and-10 play in the first half, Stanford simply handed the ball off to Gerhart, who bowled over two would-be tacklers and dragged a third to convert the first down and extend what would be a scoring drive. He had three touchdown runs, including an impressive 17-yarder where he showed speed to the edge, but he also lost one fumble that allowed the Ducks back into the game. With high-profile games remaining against USC, Cal and Notre Dame, Gerhart still has time to rattle the Heisman needle.
Up next: Saturday at No. 11 USC
6. Golden Tate, Notre Dame, WR, Jr.
Last week: 9 receptions, 132 yards, 1 TD; 2 rushes, 2 yards in a 23-21 loss against Navy
Season: 65 receptions, 1,059 yards, 10 TDs; 21 rushes, 157 yards, 2 TDs; 7 punt returns, 47 yards; 3 kickoff returns; 62 yards
Heisman-o-meter: Tate had a, for the lack of a better word, "quiet" 132 yards in the loss to the Midshipmen. He was largely invisible in the first half as quarterback Jimmy Clausen, who dropped off the list this week, looked Michael Floyd's way. Tate got more involved in the second half -- even recovering an onside kick -- but his TD catch came when the game's outcome had well been decided. The Watch has been a backer of Tate all season and is not about to jump off the ship yet. But with Floyd's return and the Irish's mounting losses, Tate's candidacy has become questionable.
Up next: Saturday at No. 8 Pitt
7. Ryan Mathews, Fresno State, RB, Jr.
Last week: 26 rushes, 143 yards, 3 TDs; 3 receptions, 18 yards in a 31-21 victory at Idaho
Season: 205 rushes, 1,459 yards, 14 TDs; 10 receptions, 112 yards; 0-of-1 passing
Heisman-o-meter: On the first play of the game, Mathews made one cut, sidestepped an Idaho safety and raced 77 yards for a quick 7-0 lead. After that, Mathews, the nation's leading rusher, never again got loose against the Vandals, though he did punch in two one-yard TDs. As with a few others on this list, Mathews faces several obstacles (playing in a non-BCS conference for one) to make it to New York, but that's no reason to omit him.
Up next: Saturday at Nevada
8. Dion Lewis, Pittsburgh, RB, Fr.
Last week: 18 rushes, 110 yards, 1 TD; 2 receptions, 42 yards in a 37-10 victory against Syracuse
Season: 203 rushes, 1,139 yards, 12 TDs; 16 receptions, 134 yards, 1 TD
Heisman-o-meter: Lewis took his second carry for 32 yards, and that may have been the most he sweat in about 3 ˝ quarters of work against the overmatched Orange. At the beginning of the second half, he turned a short Bill Stull pass into a nifty 31-yard catch-and-run to the Syracuse one-yard line and pounded in the TD three plays later. If you haven't seen this shifty freshman play, be sure to catch him in the last three weeks, against Notre Dame, West Virginia and Cincinnati.
Up next: Saturday vs. Notre Dame
9. Jordan Shipley, Texas, WR, Sr.
Last week: 11 receptions, 273 yards, 1 TD; 2 punt returns, 14 yards in a 35-3 victory against Central Florida
Season: 75 receptions, 1,050 yards, 6 TDs; 19 punt returns, 275 yards, 2 TDs; 2 kickoff returns, 38 yards; 1 rush, 0 yards
Heisman-o-meter: The Longhorns' representative on last week's Watch, safety Earl Thomas, did not have a large impact on the game, so he's off the list and replaced by another Horn, who set a school record in receiving yardage. Shipley hauled in a perfectly thrown ball to score an 88-yard TD in the fourth quarter and could have had a second long TD had quarterback Colt McCoy's pass not been underthrown. Shipley was as high as No. 3 on The Watch a month ago and would be in the same area code of Ingram, Suh and Spiller had he not been totally shut down (4 catches, 22 yards) in his team's biggest game of the season, against Oklahoma.
Up next: Saturday at Baylor
10. Kellen Moore, Boise State, QB, Soph.
Last week: 28-of-41 passing, 354 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT in a 45-35 victory at Louisiana Tech
Season: 181-of-268 passing, 2,259 yards, 27 TDs, 3 INTs; 20 rushes, minus-9 yards, 1 TD
Heisman-o-meter: Moore has been on the verge of cracking the list all season. He finally made it, strangely enough, after a closer-than-expected win against the Bulldogs. This crafty lefty has been throwing darts in the red zone all season; about one out of every 10 passes he throws goes for a TD, and no one else is close to that mark. (N.C. State's Russell Wilson is second at 8.19 percent.) He may not be flashy, but has done everything this season that a quarterback needs to do: manage the game, move the ball, avoid turnovers and, most of all, win.
Up next: Saturday vs. Idaho
More College Football
College Football Truth & Rumors