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Heisman Trophy Top 10 -- Oct. 4, 2004

   by Larry Ness - 10/04/2004

Anthony Davis of Wisconsin reminded us all why he "coulda been a contenda" if only he had been able to stay healthy. Davis ran for 213 yards and three touchdowns in 27 carries this past Saturday after missing the Badgers' last three games with an eye injury (his fifth career 200-yard game). It was another Big-Ten player, however, Purdue quarterback Kyle Orton, that made the biggest Heisman noise this weekend, as he led Purdue to its first win in South Bend since 1974, when he threw for 385 yards and four touchdowns in the Boilermakers' 41-16 win over Notre Dame. My latest Heisman poll follows:

1) MATT LEINART (USC): Last Week: 1.
You know its been a bad week when your team is idle but yet your pass completion percentage drops, you lose 24 passing yards and get charged with an interception! That's exactly what happened to Matt Leinart last week. A pass that had been ruled a completion and then a fumble two weeks ago against Stanford was instead changed and ruled to be a bobble and an interception! Anyway the Heisman-favorite has more important things on his mind, most notably USC's game this week at home with No. 7 Cal. Of course everyone knows that the last team to beat USC was Cal, 34-31 in triple-OT last year in Berkeley. Leinart threw three interceptions in that loss but has since led the Trojans to 13 straight wins throwing 38 TDs and five interceptions. USC has won 16 straight at home and Cal has won six straight for the first time since 1990-91. Leinart's season stats are: 84-of-125 67.2 percent 1023 yards 8 TDs 2 INTs.

2) JASON WHITE (Oklahoma): Last Week: 2.
White continues to look sharp in defense of his Heisman and while his numbers won't wind up as prolific as they were last year, he's not having an 'off' year! White completed 15-of-24 passes last week for 151 yards with three TDs and no interceptions as the Sooners beat the Red Raiders, 28-13. White is getting plenty of assistance this year from freshman RB Adrian Peterson, who has topped 100 yards in each of Oklahoma's four games this season. White's three TD passes gives him 55 in his career, moving him past Josh Heupel for the most in school history. Oklahoma meets Texas on Saturday in the Red River Shootout, a game Oklahoma has won four straight years. White threw for 290 yards and four TDs (17-of-21) in last year's 65-13 Oklahoma win! White's season stats are: 67-of-96 859 yards 9 TDs 1 INT.

3) CEDRIC BENSON (Texas): Last Week: 3.
Benson has opened with four straight 100-yard games for Texas, giving him 19 career 100-yard games (Texas has gone 19-0!). Benson carried a career-high 34 times last week for 188 yards with three TDs in the Longhorns' 44-14 win over Baylor. Believe it or not, Benson's game-by-game rushing totals are 181 yards, 188, 189 and 188! How's that for CONSISTENCY! His 746 yards through four games, is the most-ever by a Texas player. His three rushing TDs gives him 52 on his career, just the 19th player in NCAA history with as many as 50. He's also scored a TD in 11 straight games, tying a school-record. With 4,452 career rushing yards, he now trails only Ricky Williams' 6,207 among Texas RBs. Benson has clearly established himself as the leading RB contender for the Heisman as he and the Longhorns try to change their luck vs. the Sooners this Saturday. Benson had 21 yards on 12 carries last year against Oklahoma, as Texas lost 63-15. Two years ago, he wasn't much better gaining 54 yards in 22 carries. Needless to say, he'll HAVE to do better this time around! Benson's season stats are: 98 carries 746 yards 7.6 YPC / 5 catches 38 yards 7.6 YPC 1 TD.

4) KYLE ORTON (Purdue): Last Week: 4.
Orton scorched Notre Dame's defense on Saturday completing 21-of-31 passes for 385 yards and four TDs, as Purdue ended a 13-game losing streak in South Bend, by beating the Irish 41-16. For the second consecutive week, Purdue's defense was shaky (allowed 526 yards to Notre Dame!) but Orton made all the big plays and against a defense that had forced 16 turnovers in its first four games, was turnover-free. In fact, Orton has yet to throw an interception in 2004, while tossing 17 TD passes! His previous season-high in TDs was 15, last year! Orton turned the game into a rout by leading the Boilermakers on a 98-yard TD drive right before the half and then connected on a 97-yard TD throw to Stubblefield, that was the longest play from scrimmage ever allowed by Notre Dame team! Orton is poised to move up this list, if any of the current top-three stumble! Purdue visits not-so Happy Valley this Saturday to play Penn State. His season stats are: 95-of-137 69.3 percent 1367 yards 17 TDs 0 INTs / 2 rush TDs.

5) DAVID GREENE (Georgia): Last Week: 6.
I've said all along that Greene will stay on the outskirts of the Heisman race as long as Georgia keeps winning but a few more games like his five-TD performance last week vs. LSU and who knows? Greene is an efficient but unspectacular QB. He is however a WINNER, as his 36-8 career record suggests. Georgia's 45-16 rout of LSU was a career-defining performance by Greene. He threw just 19 passes, completed just 10 but had a career-high and school-record five TD passes! After losing twice to LSU last year when he completed just 43.5 percent of his passes while throwing five interceptions and getting sacked 10 times, Saturday's win had to be something SPECIAL! He's now moved into a tie with John Rauch for career wins at Georgia and barring injury, will pass Peyton Manning's NCAA-record 39 wins and become the all-time leader! A Heisman may be a long-shot but a chance to play in the BCS title game may not? Tennessee is up next for Georgia this Saturday in Athens, where the Bulldogs have won 17 straight games! Greene's season stats are: 55-of-101 54.5 percent 755 yards 8 TDs 1 INT.

6) ANDREW WALTER (Arizona State): Last Week: 7.
Walter was not great for the second straight week but while he completed just three first-half passes against Oregon last Saturday, two went for TDs! He directed a TD drive on the Sun Devils' first third quarter possession and later with the score 21-13, threw his third TD pass of the game putting the Ducks away and giving Arizona State its fifth straight win, 28-13. It's the team's best start since they took an 11-0 record into the Rose Bowl in 1996! Walter finished 14-of-23 for 164 yards with three TDs and no interceptions. The three TD passes gives him 70 in his career, just seven shy of the Pac-10 career mark held by Stanford's John Elway. Walter already owns the Pac-10 record for single-game passing yards when he threw for 536 yards vs. Oregon in 2002. Arizona State is off this week but must visit USC on October 16. His season stats are: 98-of-179 54.7 percent 1249 yards 15 TDs 1 INT.

7) CARNELL WILLIAMS (Auburn): Last Week: 5.
While Auburn's 34-10 win at Knoxville over Tennessee (its first win there since 1983!) has the Tigers ranked No. 6 in the latest AP poll (the school's highest ranking since 1997!), Williams' Heisman hopes are fading. Splitting time in the backfield with the talented Ronnie Brown (326 yards and 7.4 YPC) is not giving Williams enough carries. He opened the year with consecutive 100-yard games but his 24-carry 95-yard effort (one TD) vs. the Vols is his third straight game of less than 100 yards. Auburn however has put itself in great position to earn a spot in the SEC Championship Game and that can't be all bad, considering the fact that Williams was no better than a Heisman long-shot anyway. Auburn will host Louisiana Tech this Saturday and Williams may just be the second-best RB on the field, as Tech's Ryan Moats has rushed for 928 yards and nine TDs in 2004! Williams' season stats are: 106 carries 490 yards 4.6 YPC 4 TDs / 6 catches 37 yards 6.2 YPC 1 TD.

8) VERNAND MORENCY (Oklahoma State): Last Week: 8.
Morency opened the year with a 261-yard effort vs. UCLA back on September 4 and made it four straight 100-yard games in 2004 by rushing for 143 yards in 28 carries (two TDs) last Saturday in OSU's 36-7 win over Iowa State. Morency filled in for an injured Tatum Bell at the end of last season and produced back-to-back games of 269 and 227 yards rushing, giving him a streak of six consecutive 100-yard efforts in the regular season. Oklahoma State visits Boulder this Saturday to play Colorado and has home games coming up with A&M and Oklahoma plus road games at Missouri and Texas over the next five weeks. We'll see if Morency really 'belongs', after that stretch? His season stats are: 104 carries 704 yards 6.8 YPC 6 TDs.

9) LAURENCE MARONEY (Minnesota): Last Week: NR.
Maroney shares time in the backfield with one of the nation's most talented backs in Marion Barber III, making his performance so far in 2004 even more impressive. Maroney ran 25 times for 144 yards with a TD in the Gophers' 16-7 win over Penn State last Saturday. It marked his sixth consecutive 100-yard game (a new school record!) and his ninth in his last 10. As mentioned earlier, Maroney has averaged 134 YPG rushing this year while sharing time with Barber, who has run for 120.4 YPG (5.7 YPC and seven TDs). Maroney and Barber have led the Gophers to a 5-0 start for the second straight season, the first time that's happened at Minnesota since 1940 and 1941. Minnesota travels to Michigan this week and will try to erase the memory of last year's fourth-quarter collapse to the Wolverines. Minnesota had opened 6-0 in 2003 and led Michigan 28-7 entering the final quarter. They lost that game 38-35, making it 15 straight losses to Michigan. Can they avoid a 16th straight loss this week? Maroney's season stats are: 98 carries 670 yards 6.8 YPC 5 TDs.

10) REGGIE BUSH (USC): Last Week: NR.
Never sure who to put in this spot each week, so I like to mix it up! Sproles DEFINITELY had to go but I could have easily left Cal's JJ Arrington on my list. Bush has been as versatile as any back in the nation and has been OUTSTANDING in the two games in which USC has been tested this season. Back on August 28, he caught five passes for 127 yards and three TDs, as the Trojans struggled to get by Va Tech, 24-13. Against Stanford, he not only ran for 95 yards but it was his 33-yard fourth-quarter punt return that set up USC's game-winning drive in its 31-28 win over the Cardinal. USC hosts Cal on Saturday and if it's close, expect Bush to be a factor! His season stats are: 51 carries 330 yards 6.5 YPC 3 TDs / 14 catches 196 yards 14.0 YPC 4 TDs.

DROPPED OUT:

No. 9 JJ Arrington
No. 10 Darren Sproles

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