Week nine was filled with some crazy matchups, including an Ohio State upset win over Wisconsin. While my Heisman list might not look as crazy as the weekend of games, it does features a major shakeup at the top.
5. Kellen Moore: Quarterback, Boise State
Moore did nothing to hurt his position this week. Honestly, it would be a little hard to do so, when the Boise State Broncos didn’t play last week. Still, Moore’s performance this year has been excellent. He ranks fourth in the country in passer rating, with a 180.7 and 29th in yards with 2,010. His 24 touchdowns is the fourth highest mark on the season. He also leads the nation in completion percentage, with a 76.3% rate. Moore has definitely put himself in position to have great numbers at the end of the season. On pace for 3,446 yards, 41 touchdowns and just nine interceptions, the only thing holding Moore back is the Broncos schedule. With no matchups against ranked teams left on the schedule (and only one ranked matchup in their first seven games), Moore is a long shot at best to win the award. Still, his numbers are absolutely ridiculous, and if he reaches the gaudy projections by the end of the season he will certainly deserve a spot in my top five, and a trip to New York. No shot to win the award, but one of the best in the game none the less.
4. Sammy Watkins: Wide Receiver, Clemson
Sammy Watkins team may have laid an egg against the Yellow Jackets on Saturday, but that didn’t stop the phenomenal freshman from Fort Myers, FL from having a great game. Watkins was electric again, hauling in 10 passes for 159 yards, including a 48 yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. Watkins was once again a weapon in the return game as well, contributing 124 yards in six kick returns. Watkins has been sensational this season, he leads the ACC in receptions (64), yards (978), and receiving touchdowns (10). Those numbers are good enough for tenth in the nation in receptions, seventh in yards and a tie for second in receiving touchdowns. In Clemson’s first nine games, Watkins has racked up 1,681 yards of all purpose yards and eleven total touchdowns. On pace for 2,241 total yards, with 15 total touchdowns, Watkins should certainly be on most people’s short lists when it comes to the top players in the nation.
3. Landry Jones: Quarterback, Oklahoma
In week eight, Landry Jones threw for five touchdowns against Texas Tech but his miscues on numerous occasions and untimely interception cost the Sooners the game. Last week against Kansas State Jones carried the team on his back. Although he had two first half interceptions, Jones was incredibly accurate. Jones completed 35 of his 47 passes on the night (74.5%), for 505 and another five touchdowns against #8 Kansas State. He spread the ball around extremely well, with nine Sooners’ players recording a reception. His performance was even more important, as the Sooners load their best running back Dominique Whaley, on the first snap of the game. Jones’ stats this season are nothing short of insane. He is second in the nation in passing yards, falling just behind Houston’s Case Keenum’s 3,219, with 3,094. He’s also second in touchdowns, behind Keenum’s 32, with 26. His nine interceptions is a bit of a concern, but his 66.5% completion rate is exceptional for a quarterback who has been asked to throw the ball an astounding 44 times per game. On pace for 4,641 yards and 39 touchdowns, if there’s anything that’s holding him back from winning the award, it’s his projected 14 interceptions. With quarterbacks like Kellen Moore and Andrew Luck throwing more accurately, and for comparable numbers with far less interceptions, Jones will have to pick it up to have a shot at hoisting the Heisman.
2. Trent Richardson: Running Back, Alabama
Trent Richardson has had my number one spot on lockdown for awhile now. Unfortunately for the Pensacola, FL junior, the Crimson Tide had the week off in preparation for the upcoming slugfest with LSU. It’s still hard to argue with his numbers though. The week off has caused his national ranking in yardage to slip, but he’s still at seventh overall with 989 yards. His 17 rushing touchdowns is third in the country, just one behind Temple’s Bernard Pierce and Wisconsin’s Montee Ball. His 6.6 yard per carry average is 22nd nationally, and tops among running backs with over 125 rushing attempts. Richardson’s numbers are even more impressive when you look at them against other SEC running backs. His 989 yards is tied for first in the conference with Auburn’s Michael Dyer, despite Dyer having an extra game of stats. His rushing touchdown total is seven more than South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore (out for the season), and his 6.6 yard average is a full yard higher than all other backs with over 100 carries. There may not be a player in my top five who is in a better position than Richardson either. Even though he’s sitting at two right now, he has the “game of the century” on Saturday against LSU. A big performance for the junior tailback could easily put him in the driver’s seat again if Andrew Luck falters. Also, with #22 Auburn in the final week of the season, and a possible SEC championship matchup against either South Carolina or Georgia, there are still more than enough chances to solidify himself. Yes he may finally have dropped to number two this week, and it will certainly be difficult to pass Andrew Luck, but Richardson is still VERY MUCH in this race.
1. Andrew Luck: Quarterback, Stanford
It took nine weeks for most people’s preseason Heisman favorite to crack the top spot on my list, but he finally has surpassed my number one guy Trent Richardson. Luck has been solid all year long and Saturday night, he was exceptional. Against the Trojans in a nationally televised game, Luck put on a show for the entire country to see. He was surgical, completing 73% of his passes for 330 yards. Even though he only threw one touchdown in regulation, he took full advantage of the three overtime periods it took the Cardinal to escape Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum with another two scoring tosses. Luck also added a rushing touchdown early in the game, his second of the season. Luck’s numbers are some of the best in the nation. He is fifth in quarterback rating with a 176.9, and 18th in passing yards with 2,218. His 71.9% completion rate is the sixth highest in the country, as is his 9.2 yards per attempt. He’s also been a scoring machine, as his 23 touchdowns is fifth nationally. His four sacks are tied for the 89th lowest in the country. On pace for 3,327 yards with 35 touchdowns and six interceptions, Luck is likely a shoe in for the award if he keeps up this level of performance.
Case Keenum: Quarterback, Houston
No quarterback had a better stat line then Houston’s Case Keenum last week. Keenum was 24 of 37 for 535 yards and NINE touchdowns. He also set the NCAA record for career passing touchdowns against the Rice Owls last week. For the year, Keenum leads the nation with 3,219 passing yards and 32 touchdowns. Certainly numbers worthy of the award, if Houston’s strength of schedule was better.
Robert Griffin III: Quarterback, Baylor
Several weeks ago, Griffin was regarded as the best player in the season by many. Now, his Heisman pursuit is all but over. The Baylor Bears suffered another embarrassing loss (at the hands of Oklahoma State), and Griffin had a less than stellar performance. Griffin was just 33 of 50, and although he passed for 425 yards, he had only one touchdown to go along with two interceptions. He did add another rushing touchdown, to improve his total to 26 total touchdowns this season. However, with a mediocre performance and three embarrassing losses, his Heisman chances are essentially over.