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Heisman Trophy Top-10

   by Larry Ness - 10/30/2006

USC's shocking loss at Oregon State has shaken up the polls and most importantly, the BCS standings. While it's obvious the winner of the Michigan/Ohio State game will be one of this year's national championship game participants (assuming of course, that both remain unbeaten until November 18), the field is now wide-open as to the game's other entry. The Heisman race however, hardly features a wide-open field. This past weekend's results made it even more certain that either Ohio State QB Troy Smith or Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn will win the most recognized award in all sports, come early December. My latest Heisman update follows.

Heisman Trophy Top-10
Monday, October 30

1) TROY SMITH (Ohio State) Last Week: 1. Ohio State rolled again last Saturday, handling Minnesota 44-0. The Ohio State defense, which had to replace NINE starters this year, is now leading the nation allowing just 7.3 PPG! The offense ain't too bad either and Troy Smith added another (for him) "ho-hum" effort, completing 14-of-21 passes for 183 yards with one TDP and no INTs. He has made a concerted effort to be much more of a pocket-passer this year and unlike last year when he ran for 611 yards (4.5 YPC) with 11 TDs, he has not shown much of that part of his game in 2006. However, this past Saturday, he did get his first rushing TD of the season (a 21-yarder) and had six carries for 43 yards for the game. After being at minus-14 yards rushing after three games this year, Smith has run 30 times for 183 yards (6.1 YPC) over Ohio State's last six games. As for his passing numbers, his completion percentage is up from 62.9 percent to 67.8 percent and his YPG passing are up from 190.2 to 210.9. While Notre Dame's Quinn is playing at a very high level right now, this year's Heisman is Smith's "to lose." Ohio State plays at Illinois this Saturday. Smith's season stats are: 145-of-214 67.8 percent 1,898 yards 22 TDPs 2 INTs / 42 carries 169 yards 4.0 YPC 1 TD.

2) BRADY QUINN (Notre Dame) Last week: 2. Everyone talks about the Notre Dame "mystique" but the fact remains that the Irish haven't had a Heisman winner since Tim Brown in 1988 and haven't seen a QB win since John Huarte in 1964! Speaking of 1964, Notre Dame beat Navy that year 40-0 (had lost to the Midshipmen and Roger Staubach 35-14 in 1963), and hasn't stopped beating the Naval Academy since! This past Saturday, the Irish made it 43 straight over the Midshipmen, with a 38-14 win. ND scored on its first five possessions. Quinn threw two TDPs in the first half (36 and 33 yards) and capped ND's first drive of the second half with 19-yard TD run (his first since the season-opener against Ga Tech). He capped the game's scoring with a six-yard TDP with 9:36 left in the game. He finished the game with 18 completions in 25 attempts for 295 yards (three TDPs and no INTs). Since losing to Michigan on September 16 (a game in which Quinn threw three INTs and lost a fumble), he's completed 66.9 percent of his passes, averaged 293.2 YPG and thrown 15 TDPs with just one interception (181 attempts!). ND is 5-0 in that stretch and is averaging 32.8 PPG. The Irish host pathetic North Carolina this Saturday. Quinn's season stats are: 193-of-303 63.7 percent 2,233 yards 21 TDPs 4 INTs / 2 rush TDs.

3) MIKE HART (Michigan) Last week: 3. At this point of the season I just can't envision anyone other than either Smith or Quinn winning this year's trophy but my article is entitled "Heisman Top-10," so here's my "little eight." Michigan has had trouble scoring since the loss of Manningham (see No. 10 on this week's list for a more) and this past Saturday beat Northwestern, just 17-3. Michigan led only 10-3 midway through the third quarter, when a Wolverine interception set them up on the Northwestern 36-yard line. Hart ran for 23 yards and a 4th-and-two situation and two plays later scored on a three-yard run to give Michigan its final margin. Hart finished the game with 20 carries for 95 yards (one TD), just the second time he's been held under 100 yards in nine games this year (had 91 yards vs Wisconsin). For his career, he's got 17 100-yard games, with Michigan going 16-1 in those contests. I have Hart at No. 3 this week but he could be passed by Steve Slaton next week if Slaton comes anywhere near his performance against Louisville last year, this Thursday night (see No. 4 for more details). Michigan hosts Ball State on Saturday. Hart's season stats are: 234 carries 1,127 yards 4.8 YPC 9 TDs / 11 catches 114 yards 10.4 YPC 0 TDs

4) STEVE SLATON (West Virginia) Last Week: 4. West Virginia's 37-11 win at U Conn on October 20 was hardly pretty but interestingly enough it did allow the Mountaineers to move ahead of Auburn to No.4 in the BCS standings a week ago. West Va was off this past weekend but was able to move up to No. 3 in all the human polls plus No.3 in the BCS!. The win over U Conn was West Va's 14th in a row (11-2 ATS), which set a new school record. As for Slaton, his 56-yard TD run in the fourth quarter against the Huskies gave him 128 yards on the game (19 carries) but for the second straight game, he played "second-fiddle" to QB Pat White as the team's offensive star. White followed his 247-yard four TD effort against Syracuse (10/14) by running for 102 yards and one TD in 15 carries plus competed 9-of-14 passes for 156 yards with one TDP and one INT against U Conn. Still, Slaton is as good a choice as any at this spot, as he's now topped 100 yards rushing in 11 of his 16 career games at West Va (team is 11-0 in those games!), while scoring 28 TDs (26 rushing) over his last 14 games! West Va plays at Louisville on Thursday, in the Big East's "Game of the Year." Last year's Louisville/West Va game was a 46-44 three-OT thriller won by West Va in Morgantown. That game was Slaton's "coming-out party," as he scored two TDs in West Va's 17-point fourth quarter, which sent the game into OT. He then scored on TDs on all three of West Va's OT possessions, ending the game with 188 yards rushing and six TDs (five rushing). Louisville (7-0) is currently No. 5 in the BCS standings and is also hoping for a spot in the BCS title game. The Cards take a 15-game home winning streak into Thursday's game (13-2 ATS). Slaton's season stats are: 151 carries 1,059 yards 7.0 YPC 9 TDs / 9 catches 87 yards 9.7 YPC 0 TDs.

5) MARSHAWN LYNCH (California) Last Week: 5. Since falling behind Tennessee 35-0 back on September 2 in a 35-18 loss, Cal has rebounded to win seven consecutive games and is now at No. 10 in the latest BCS standings. Cal had averaged 32 PPG in the first halves of its first six wins but found itself down to Washington 10-3 at the half on October 21. Cal came back led by junior RB Lynch, who continues to play on two sprained ankles. Lynch's 17-yard TD run (plus a two-point conversion by his back-up Forsett), gave the Bears a 24-17 lead with just 1:52 left in the game. However, Washington tied the score on the game's final play of regulation, on a 40-yard "Hail Mary." In the OT, Lynch's 22-yard run gave Cal its seventh straight win, 31-24. He finished with 150 yards on 21 carries and caught four passes for 53 yards. It marked the sixth time he's topped 100 yards in eight games this year, failing to do so only in the Tennessee game (when the team fell way behind) and against Oregon when his sprained ankles forced him out of the game in the 2nd quarter. He now owns 15 career 100-yard games, tying a school record and in his three-year career at Berkeley, sports a 7.0 YPC average. Cal hosts UCLA this Saturday. Lynch's season stats are: 132 carries 907 yards 6.9 YPC 8 TDs / 19 catches 216 yards 11.4 YPC 3 TDs.

6) ERIK AINGE (Tennessee) Last Week: 6. For the second straight week, Ainge led the Vols to a comeback win. It was Alabama at home last Saturday and this past week it was over the Gamecocks (and Spurrier!) at South Carolina. Things started well for the Vols, as they jumped out to an early 14-0 lead. However, they fell behind 17-14 in the third quarter, until Ainge capped a 79-yard drive with his second TDP of the game (a 12-yarder) with just over 13 minutes left to play. After a quick stop by the Tennessee D, a 65-yard punt return set up a five-yard TD run, less than three minutes later. The Vols held on to win 31-24 and Ainge finished an impressive 21-of-29 for 254 yards with two TDPs and no INTs (had three last week vs the Tide!). I'm not sure if many others have Ainge ranked this high in their Heisman polls (if they have him listed at all!) but he's without doubt, the season's "comeback player of the year." Tennessee, 77-7 in November since 1985, will host LSU this Saturday. Ainge's season stats are: 167-of-246 67.9 percent 2,213 yards 16 TDPs 8 INTs / 1 rush TD.

7) COLT McCOY (Texas) Last week: NR. Coming into this year, only USC's Booty could make an argument that he had "bigger shoes to fill" than Texas QB Colt McCoy. McCoy, a red-shirt freshman, took over from Vince Young, who went 30-2 as a starter for the Longhorns, including winning his final 20 games. The last of the 20 straight wins, a 41-38 win over USC in last year's Rose Bowl, gave Texas its first undisputed national title since 1969! Texas lost its second game of this season, 24-7 to Ohio State but has since won its last seven and is now back in the "title-hunt," ranked No. 4 in the AP poll and No. 7 in the latest BCS standings. McCoy may be no Vince Young but he's completed 69.9 percent of his passes, averaged 196.1 YPG passing and thrown 20 TDPs with just three INTs in Texas' seven-game winning streak. The last two weeks, he's led the Longhorns to come-from-behind wins at Lincoln (22-20 over Nebraska) and this past Saturday at Lubbock (35-31 over Texas Tech). Texas fell behind Tech 21-0 in the first quarter but behind three second-quarter TDPs by McCoy, closed to 31-21 at the half. The Texas D shut out the Red Raiders in the second half and McCoy's fourth TDP of the game with 13:24 left in the contest, gave the Longhorns a 35-31 lead (the game's final score). McCoy finished 21-of-31 for 256 yards with four TDPs and one INT, plus added a career-high 68 yards rushing on nine carries. Texas will host Oklahoma State this Saturday. McCoy's season stats are: 147-of-217 67.7 percent 1,705 yards 24 TDPs 4 INTs / 55 carries 174 yards 3.2 YPC 1 TD.

8) RAY RICE (Rutgers) Last week: 8. The latest AP poll was released before Rutgers' game last night with U Conn, an unimpressive 24-13 win. The Scarlet Knights find themselves ranked No.15 by the AP this week, matching the school's highest-ever ranking (also reached No. 15 in the AP's final poll of the 1961 season). Rutgers also finds itself at No. 12 in the latest BCS standings, which is pretty heady stuff. Rice, just a sophomore, had his worst game of the 2006 season against U Conn, gaining just 79 yards on 22 carries. He scored on a five-yard run on Rutgers' first possession of the game but like the rest of his offensive teammates, Sunday was an "off-night." Rutgers was held to just one FD in the third quarter and to just 75 yards of total offense in the entire second half. However, Rice is having a great season (entered the game as the nation's second-leading rusher at 161 YPG) and in his 20-game career, has topped 100 yards 11 times (Rutgers is 9-2), including four 200-yard efforts! Rutgers is off this week but will watch this Thursday night's West Va/Louisville game with great interest, as the Scarlet Knights visit Louisville a week from Thursday, on November 9. Rice's season stats are: 223 carries 1,203 yards 5.4 YPC 13 TDs / 3 catches 26 yards 8.7 YPC 0 TDs.

9) IAN JOHNSON (Boise State) Last Week: 10. I moved Johnson into my top 10 last week and he remains there this week. Boise State is trying to match Utah in 2004, which became the first school from a non-BCS conference to earn a BCS bowl bid. The Broncos will need to finish among the top-12 in the final BCS standings to get an automatic bid and after Boise's 42-26 win at Idaho on October 21 and an off week this past Saturday, the 8-0 Broncos sit at No. 14 in the current BCS standings, two spots shy of where they need to finish. Don't blame Johnson, as he's topped 100 yards in five of his eight games this year (low-game was 88 yards), running for 375 yards in Boise's last two games while scoring four times in each contest. Boise State will host Fresno State (the Bulldogs are on a 1-10 SU and 1-9-1 ATS run!) on Wednesday. Johnson's season stats are: 169 carries 1,181 yards 7.0 YPC 18 TDs / 3 catches 31 yards 10.3 YPC 0 TDs.

10) MARIO MANNINGHAM (Michigan) Last Week: NR. I typically use the 10-spot as a "wild card" and this week is no different. Manningham came out of nowhere this year to be (in my opinion) CFB's most dominant and influential WR. If you don't agree, you may just want to check No. 2 Michigan's offensive results since Manningham went down with an injury he suffered in the Michigan State game (October 7). Manningham caught 24 passes (22.0 YPC) in Michigan's first six games with nine going for TDs. His average TD catch covered 34.3 yards, an incredible stat. However, a stat that is even more telling (and should prove Manningham's worth!) is that in six games with Manningham in the lineup, Michigan averaged 33.5 PPG. In the three games the Wolverines have played without Manningham, they've averaged just 18.0 PPG. Case closed!

Dropped Out:

No. 7 Chris Leak (Florida)

No. 9 James Davis (Clemson)

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