CNNSI.com's Heisman WatchPosted: Sunday December 08, 2002 6:48 PM
College football producer Luke Winn will track the Heisman race for CNNSI.com all season long.
When the schedule-makers grant you an extra week to campaign for the Heisman, you'd best finish strong.
Two hundred and five yards strong.
And when you're the only early game on national television (that is, other than a clash of 1-10 militants), you'd best make it memorable.
Six touchdowns memorable.
Clinching a Fiesta Bowl berth in the process -- that never hurts.
Miami's Willis McGahee tops CNNSI.com's final Heisman Watch, but this race is close enough to create dissention within our own office: In Monday's All-America Team, my colleague Stewart Mandel chose Carson Palmer as Player of the Year. That said, the real hardware could go in any of three, four or five directions...
1. Willis McGahee, Miami, Soph., TB
Despite the weekly prodding, McGahee won't speak out about his credentials. But, hey, would you if another trophy contender is the guy who stuffs the ball in your gut 30-plus times a game?
2. Carson Palmer, USC, Sr., QB
We made this argument for Palmer as the nation's top QB -- ahead of Iowa's Brad Banks -- last week:
Banks in all 12 of his games (11-1): 155-of-258 (60.1 percent), 2,369 yards, 25 TDs, 4 INTs
Palmer, mind you, did this against the nation's most difficult schedule -- a combined opponents' record of 84-41 -- while the combined record of Banks' opponents was 63-64.
3. Brad Banks, Iowa, Sr., QB
Banks beat out Larry Johnson for Big Ten offensive player of the year honors and continues to beat out L.J. on this list. Banks doesn't have the stats Palmer does, but his passing efficiency rating (tops in the nation) and almost perfect record should help him dominate the Midwest vote.
4. Larry Johnson, Penn State, Sr., RB
The best all-around back in the nation beat out McGahee in yards and total yards, but McGahee outshines Johnson where it counts: touchdowns, big-game performances and big wins.
5. Ken Dorsey, Miami, Sr., QB
Dorsey is a true leader, and as we've all heard approximately 500 times in the past month, he's lost only once -- ever -- as a 'Canes starter. But the "Heisman Play" didn't work on Saturday, and let's be honest: There are at least four better candidates for the trophy.
Want to see who CNNSI.com readers picked as their winner? Check out The People's Heisman.