Shoelace is pick for Halfway Heisman; Ingram bows out of race
Despite losing to Michigan St., Denard Robinson is Halfway Hesiman winner
Auburn's Cameron Newton vaults to No. 3 after rushing for 198 yards, 4 TDs
Reigning winner Mark Ingram drops off the list after another poor outing
The people have spoken.
Well, more to the point they've tweeted, e-mailed and voiced their votes over the radio waves for their pick for Halfway Heisman. Not surprisingly, America has thrown its votes behind the player who was the individual story of the first half of the season: Michigan's Denard Robinson, who was the overwhelming winner, beating out Nevada's Colin Kaepernick (second in the voting) and Oregon's LaMichael James (third).
The story would stop there had Robinson, who dominated the first five weeks of the season, continued his torrid pace against Michigan State. Instead, the Watchman is left playing public defender for Shoelace, the voters and my own rankings.
It's all too easy to get caught up in Robinson's lackluster performance against the first legitimate defense he's faced -- though 301 yards of total offense isn't exactly a dismal day -- but it was just one game. It's still well within his reach to become the first BCS conference quarterback since Brad Smith and Vince Young in 2005 to have 2,000 yards passing (he's on pace for 2,446) and 1,000 yards rushing (he's nine yards away) in the same season.
But even if Michigan does slip as the Big Ten season continues, it's not out of the realm of possibility for Shoelace to take the Heisman with multiple losses. Oklahoma's Steve Owens won with four losses in 1969 and Ernie Davis (1961), Jim Plunkett (1970), George Rogers (1980), Bo Jackson (1985), Tim Brown (1987) and Tim Tebow (2007) all played for teams with three regular-season losses.
Also, we bid adieu to defending Heisman winner Mark Ingram. The Alabama running back had his second straight game of less than 50 yards as the Tide fell at South Carolina. Coupled with already missing two games due to injury, Ingram bows out of the race.
Before the Watchman unveils this week's top 10 Heisman candidates, here's a look back at the rankings after Week 5.
Last Week: 17-of-29 passing for 215 yards, one TD and three INTs; 21 rushes for 86 yards and one TD in 34-17 loss to Michigan State
Season: 84-of-125 passing for 1,223 yards, eight TDs and four INTs; 119 rushes for 991 yards and nine TDs
Last season Tate Forcier got the Wolverines off to a 4-0 start before a loss to Michigan State started a free fall. A year later, it gets no easier for Robinson as he tries to avoid a similar script. This week he'll face Adrian Clayborn and an Iowa defense that's ranked second against the run, giving up only 63.2 yards per game, and has allowed just one runner to hit the century mark in the last 18 games.
Up Next: Saturday vs. No. 15 Iowa
Last Week: 25 rushes for 136 yards and two TDs; two receptions for 87 yards and one TD in 43-23 win over Washington State
Season: 114 rushes for 848 yards and nine TDs; three receptions for 96 yards and one TD
James admitted he was rattled after his friend and backfield mate Kenjon Barner was taken away in an ambulance after a scary hit. That may have been weighing on James' mind as he fumbled twice, but he still went over 100 yards for the fourth time in five games and scored on an 82-yard reception. He overtook Robinson for the national lead in rushing yards per game (169.6), and stands to benefit should Shoelace's candidacy face any further setbacks.
Up Next: Thursday, Oct. 21 vs. UCLA
Last Week: 13-of-21 passing for 210 yards and one INT; 28 rushes for 198 yards and four TDs in 37-34 win over Kentucky
Season: 70-of-108 passing for 1,138 yards, 12 TDs and five INTs; 104 rushes for 672 yards and nine TDs
Some call him the Denard Robinson of the South, though if last week was any indication, we may end up calling Robinson the Newton of the North before the season is up. The SEC's leader in rushing yards and total offense ran for four first-half touchdowns to help the Tigers reach 6-0 for the first time since '04. He's emerged as the conference's leading Heisman candidate and could further distance himself from Ryan Mallett in their showdown at Jordan-Hare Stadium this week.
Up Next: Saturday vs. No. 12 Arkansas
Last Week: 24-of-30 passing for 334 yards and three TDs; three rushes for minus-19 yards in 38-10 win over Indiana
Season: 104-of-153 passing for 15 TDs and three INTs; 57 rushes for 354 yards and three TDs; 2 receptions for 19 yards and one TD
Pryor did rebound from his worst passing game of the year by throwing for a career-high 334 yards, but then again it was against an Indiana defense that's giving up 413.4 yards per game. And while he didn't show any lingering effects from the quadriceps injury he suffered the week before, he also didn't take off on any designed runs. All in all though, it was a nice tune up to what will be the biggest test yet of Pryor's maturity.
Up Next: Saturday at No. 18 Wisconsin
Last Week: 16-of-22 passing for 267 yards and three TDs; one rush for six yards in 57-14 win over Toledo
Season: 91-of-135 passing for 1,336 yards, 14 TDs and one INT; seven rushes for minus-15 yards
As Nate from Athens, Ohio, writes: "Why bother with Kellen Moore?"
Yes, the BCS games are over and it's unlikely Moore will play into the fourth quarter of most games -- like versus Toledo when he went to the bench after his third TD pass -- but why should he stay in to pad his stats? No matter the opponent, you can't deny he's the nation's most efficient quarterback, tossing 14 TDs to one pick and winning 19 straight games.
Up Next: Saturday at San Jose State