Week eight’s college football games featured several major upsets, and huge performances by the nations best. It also featured some lackluster performances by members of my top five. Due to this, my top five features an unexpected newcomer…
5. Kellen Moore: Quarterback, Boise State
The last three weeks, Kellen Moore has reminded Heisman voters why he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. In that time, Moore has completed 72 of 90 passes (80%) for 873 yards and ten touchdowns. While Moore threw his first interception since October 1, on Saturday, his 79% completion rate and 3-1 touchdown to interception ratio was more than solid. Moore is fourth in the nation with a 180.7 quarterback rating, and is tied with Clemson QB Tajh Boyd for the national lead in touchdowns at 24. Even more impressive, is Moore’s 76.3% completion rate is the highest among quarterbacks with 220 passing attempts, with the next highest being Houston’s Case Keenum at 72.9%. Moore certainly has the numbers to be higher up on the list, but unfortunately his Heisman candidacy suffers from the schedule Boise State plays. With only one ranked team on Boise’s schedule, (the opener against Georgia), Moore is a long shot at best to win the award. Either way, if he continues to put up numbers like this, he will remain in the top five and deserve a trip to New York City.
4. Sammy Watkins: Wide Receiver, Clemson
You asked for it Clemson fans, and finally I’ve seen enough to say this kid is one of the top five players in the nation. Watkins has been absolutely electric this year. As a true freshman, he’s tied for 11th in the country in receptions, (54), he’s seventh in the nation in receiving yardage, (819), and he’s tied for the lead in receiving touchdowns with nine. Against Maryland two weeks ago, Watkins had perhaps his best performance of his young career. Watkins caught eight passes for 105 yards including two touchdowns, and added a 33 yard rush. He was also deadly in the return game with an 89 yard kickoff return touchdown that put the Tigers up by four at the midway point of the fourth quarter. Against the Tarheels last week, Watkins built on his momentum from the Maryland game with another strong performance. Watkins caught another eight passes for 91 yards and a touchdown, and had 96 yards on four kickoff returns. Watkins has proven he’s one of the most dangerous players on the field Saturday, and for that reason, he’s cracked my top-five. He is a freshman, and a wide receiver at that, so his Heisman chances realistically are slim.
3. Landry Jones: Quarterback, Oklahoma
Landry Jones was a statistical monster Saturday night. He completed just 55% of his passes, (his lowest percentage this season) however, he threw for 412 yards and five touchdowns. Jones is third in the nation in passing yardage at 2,589, and fourth in passing attempts at 308. For someone who is asked to throw the ball as much as the Sooner signal caller, his 65% completion rate is more than respectable. He’s also ranked seventh in the nation, with 21 passing touchdowns this season. He certainly has the numbers to win the Heisman, on pace for 4,438 yards 36 touchdowns and just four sacks. So why isn’t Jones the leader on the list? It’s the mistakes and negative plays he has made this season. These negative plays were painfully obvious Saturday night, as Jones missed wide open receivers in key third down and redzone situations. He also has seven interceptions in just as many games, including a back breaking one in the fourth quarter last weekend. For someone who can be on fire, Jones can be ice cold the next moment. His hot and cold play not only cost his Sooners the game against 28 point underdog Texas Tech, it also cost him the opportunity to move up on my Heisman list.
2. Andrew Luck: Quarterback, Stanford
Andrew Luck had a HUGE opportunity on Saturday night. Against a ranked team, in a primetime game, with the 110th ranked passing defense, Luck had a chance to put up ridiculous numbers. While Luck’s Stanford Cardinal took advantage of the opportunity, getting a convincing 65-21 victory over #25 Washington, Luck didn’t have such a great night. Luck was incredibly accurate, completing 76% of his passes Saturday night. Unfortunately, the yardage just wasn’t there. He gained just 169 yards through the air (a season low), and just two touchdowns. However, it wasn’t all bad for Luck, he didn’t throw an interception for the fourth game this season. Luck has been, not surprisingly, exceptional this season. He’s fifth in the nation in passer rating with a 180, and he’s 23rd in the nation in yardage with 1,888 despite having only 202 passing attempts this year. He’s also eighth in the nation in touchdowns with twenty, and has only thrown three interceptions this year. Luck is on pace for over 3,200 yards with 34 touchdowns and just five interceptions, certainly Heisman worthy numbers. Luck has another big opportunity this Saturday, when the Cardinal will head to Los Angeles to play the USC Trojans in their second straight primetime game. Like Washington, the Trojans secondary has had trouble defending the pass, surrendering an average of 265 passing yards per game. If Luck can take advantage this weekend, he could find himself in the driver’s seat of my watch list next week.
1.Trent Richardson: Running Back, Alabama
I said last week Richardson has been the most consistent player this season and I still stand by it. However, last week against Tennessee, Richardson had a game that would be considered subpar by his standards. Richardson carried the ball 17 times, but had his lowest yards per carry average since the Tide’s first game this season with 4.5 ypc. Even though he only gained 77 yards on the ground, he added to his touchdown total with two endzone trips. His 17 touchdowns is tied for the second highest mark in the nation, and his 989 yards is second to only Virginia Tech’s, David Wilson. He’s also the only back with over 130 carries to average over 6.5 yards, with a 6.5 yard average on 149 carries. Richardson is on pace for 1,484 yards and 26 rushing touchdowns on just 224 carries. But Richardson picked a terrible week to have an off game, with the Tide having a bye this week in preparation for their #1 vs. #2 matchup against LSU on November 5th, Richardson has left himself in a bad position. His mediocre performance last weekend, combined with Luck’s likely performance this weekend, makes it highly likely that Richardson will lose the top spot in my list. Still, with games against LSU, Auburn, and a possible South Eastern Conference Championship match still on the schedule, Richardson has plenty of opportunities to reassert himself as the #1 player in the nation.
Tajh Boyd: Quarterback, Clemson
Watkins may be the sexy name on the Clemson offense, but Boyd is definitely a close second. Not many quarterbacks have performed better then Boyd this year, whose 24 touchdowns leads the nation. Boyd is also seventh in passing yardage, (2,379), and his three interceptions is tied for second in the nation among quarterbacks with 200 or more passing attempts.
Russell Wilson: Quarterback, Wisconsin
One of the favorites to win the award at the start of the season, Wilson’s performance the last two weeks has left a lot to be desired. In those two games, he’s completed 26 of 38 passes and has averaged less than 200 yards passing per game. His two interceptions Saturday night were also critical in Michigan State’s upset over the #6 Badgers.
Robert Griffin III: Quarterback, Baylor
It’s almost unfair to not include RGIII in a top five list with his stats this season. He leads the nation in completion rate, (78%), and his 22 touchdowns is tied for fourth in the nation. Still, he had two extremely average performances in his last two games, followed by a bye week. His team also suffered a humiliating 55-28 loss to Texas A&M. There’s still time (and big games) for Griffin though, and it starts this week with a trip to Oklahoma State. If he has a big game, he could certainly jump back in the top five.