Week four featured plenty of great games and equally great performances. While some Heisman hopefuls faltered and lost their place on my Heisman watch list, others rose to the occasion and replaced them. So enough talk, here’s this week’s Heisman Watch list!
Robert Griffin III: Quarterback, Baylor
Robert Griffin III, or RGIII as he’s known to Baylor fans, was a superstar last week. Against the Rice Owls, the Baylor sensation completed 29 of his 33 passing attempts for 333 yards and five touchdowns. Griffin III also contributed on the ground with 51 yards and a touchdown on six carries. Even more important than the sheer numbers was Griffin III’s ability to spread the ball around. RGIII demonstrated the ability to go through his reads, finding five different receivers in the endzone Saturday. Griffin III has been showcasing his talent all season, with a ridiculous completion percentage of 85.4 and 13 touchdowns to zero interceptions; RGIII could easily be considered the front runner for college football’s most prestigious award. With Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Texas and Oklahoma still left on the schedule, the sensational junior from Copperas Cove, TX has plenty of marquee games left to flaunt his talent for the nation.
Russell Wilson: Quarterback, Wisconsin
While Wilson’s performance this weekend needs to be graded with an asterisk, being that it was against South Dakota, his performance throughout the season is exactly why the Badgers are a dark horse National Championship team and why Wilson is a Heisman hopeful. Wilson was a surgeon on Saturday cutting through the Coyotes defense, completing 76% of his passes for 345 yards and three touchdowns. Wilson continued relying on his favorite target in senior wide receiver Nick Toon, finding him seven times for 155 yards and two scores. Wilson also found sophomore receiver Jared Abbrederis, who had a career day with 101 yards and a touchdown on five catches. On the year, Wilson is completing 76% of his passes for 1,136 yards in four games. Wilson, has been extremely accurate with the ball resulting in 11 touchdowns and just one interception. The former NC State star has also been able to showcase his athletic ability with a 6.8 yard per carry average and one touchdown on the ground.
LaMichael James: Running Back, Oregon
Last year James finished third in the Heisman voting to Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck and the former Auburn superstar, and Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, Cam Newton. This year, James is trying to leave no doubt about whom the best player in the nation is. James, another preseason favorite, dropped off the Heisman map after starting the season off with two terrible performances against LSU and Nevada. In those two games, James contributed just 238 yards in total offense. In the two games since, James has been unstoppable with 492 yards on the ground and another 42 through the air. Against the Arizona Wildcats, James had his best day ever as an Oregon Duck. Carrying the ball 23 times, James sliced his way through the Wildcats defense for 288 yards and two scores. This wasn’t just a career day for James though, his performance also set a new school record for rushing yards in a single game. James’ two scores also set a new record for career touchdowns by a Ducks player. James has put up numbers one would expect to see in the NCAA Football video game the last two weeks, and if he continues, with matchups against Arizona State, Stanford and USC still on the schedule, he could find himself hoisting the Heisman in December.
Kellen Moore: Quarterback, Boise State
The 6’1 senior from Prosser, WA had another monster game on Saturday against Tulsa. It’s a good thing too, because with only one marquee game remaining on the schedule (vs. #20 TCU), Moore will have to put up insane numbers every week to keep his Heisman chances alive. The sad truth is, that because of Boise’s schedule, Moore has no chance to win the award if he has even one off game. With players like Richardson, RGIII, James and others performing against much better opponents, Moore will have to bring his best each week, and that’s exactly what he did this week. Completing 79% of his passes for 279 yards, Moore was deadly with the ball, finding receivers in the endzone four times. Moore also was able to get through the game without throwing an interception, his first zero interception day of the season. Moore has been extremely accurate this season, completing 79% of his passes for 995 yards. Moore has been a scoring machine, averaging 4 touchdown strikes per game and has just two interceptions on the year. With a schedule full of week competition, Moore will certainly be able to put up the numbers to be in NY, it will just be a matter of his maintaining this level of performance week in and week out.
Marcus Lattimore: Running Back, South Carolina
In a game where the sophomore phenom received 9 less carries then he was averaging, Lattimore, (as would be expected) saw his performance suffer. Yet, he still ends up on my Heisman list this week, and he has his endzone trips to thank for that. In a sloppy game for the Gamecocks, South Carolina was able to pull away against the Vanderbilt Commodores, and win 21-3. Lattimore contributed with two of the Gamecocks three touchdowns. Despite only having 152 yards of total offense, Lattimore put the team on his back and responded with a second quarter receiving touchdown and a third quarter 22 yard run for a score. It’s a, “what have you done for me lately” list though, so if Lattimore doesn’t show up in a big way against Auburn he’ll be on the outside looking in next Wednesday. Luckily for Lattimore, the disappointing play of senior quarterback Stephen Garcia should ensure a ton of carries for #21 in garnet and black. With a marquee game on national television next week, Marcus Lattimore has an excellent opportunity to pad his resume against an Auburn defense that has given up 227 rushing yards per game.
Trent Richardson: Running Back, Alabama
In one of the nation’s biggest games last week the Junior, Richardson, put on a great show. Despite not finding the endzone on the ground, Richardson carried the ball 17 times for 126 yards, a 7.4 yard per carry average against SEC West foe Arkansas. Richardson also contributed in the passing game, hauling in three passes for 85 yards and a touchdown. Richardson’s performance on the ground was key, in providing passing lanes for Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron Saturday. On the season, Richardson has 441 yards rushing and has found the endzone eight times. Richardson has also been a playmaker in the passing game with a 13.4 yard average per reception. Richardson has a great opportunity to assert himself as a favorite for the award in a matchup against the Florida Gators. The Gators, who in four games have only allowed 224 yards on the ground, will enter the game as the fifth best defense in the nation against the run (56.5 yards per game). If Richardson can find running lanes and exploit a Florida defense that has yet to be tested by an elite back, he could find himself as the favorite for the award at this time next week.
Tajh Boyd: Quarterback, Clemson
Boyd has been electric this season, passing for over 1,300 yards and finding the endzone 13 times. With his huge performance last weekend against a stingy Florida State defense, Boyd is just one big game away from crashing down the door to my Heisman watch list.
Sammy Watkins: Wide Receiver, Clemson
While I’m always hesitant to consider a true freshman one of the best players in the nation, Watkins has been nothing short of a playmaker for the Tigers. Boyd’s favorite target, Watkins has hauled in 29 passes for 433 yards and 6 touchdowns. If Watkins keeps up the pace he’s set the last two games, I will certainly have to consider altering my stance on freshman players.
Andrew Luck: Quarterback, Stanford
As I said with Marcus Lattimore it’s a “what have you done for me lately” list and unfortunately for Luck, the Cardinal had the weekend off. Following up a mediocre (by his standards) performance against Arizona with a bye week results in Luck being off my list….for this week at least.
Matt Barkley: Quarterback, USC
This one might as well be stock gone. Barkley’s Heisman chances were dependent on the Trojans staying undefeated. Saturday night the Sun Devils embarrassed USC, and Barkley completed just 63% of his passes. Barkley also threw two crushing interceptions including a pick six late in the fourth quarter to seal the Sun Devils victory.
Check back next week to see who made the cut with my week five Heisman watch list!