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Heisman Trophy Top 10 -- Oct. 11, 2004

   by Larry Ness - 10/11/2004

Jason White won last year's Heisman and figured his biggest challenge to repeat would come from USC QB Matt Leinart. Up till now he was right but after last Saturday he may find his biggest obstacle to be his own teammate, true freshman Adrian Peterson. As for Leinart, his team remained unbeaten and top-ranked last Saturday with a win over Cal (23-17) but Leinart was just the second-best QB on the field that day!...

My latest Heisman report follows....

1) MATT LEINART (USC) Last Week: 1. While others may swayed by the recent performances of Purdue's Orton, Oklahoma's Peterson and Cal's Rodgers, I still believe Leinart has done more than enough to remain the Heisman-favorite. In Saturday's win over Cal, Leinart had his team up 23-10 in the early third quarter after tossing his second TD pass of the game! Cal and its QB Aaron Rodgers were unrelenting however (see this week's No. 7) and closed the gap to 23-17. Bush seemingly gave USC a chance to put the game away with an 84-yard kick off return in the fourth quarter but Leinart then made a HUGE mistake, getting intercepted in the end zone on third down! USC's defense bailed out the Trojans and USC will live to fight another day! Leinart threw for a season-low 164 yards by completing 15-of-25 passes with two TDs and that one interception. He's led USC to 14 straight wins (40 TDs and just six INTs during the streak) and is now 18-1 as a USC starter, having thrown at least one TD pass in each game. His team is the defending national champions (AP-style) and they've been top-ranked all of 2004. That still spells Heisman-favorite to me. Leinart and the Trojans get another tough test on Saturday, when a second consecutive undefeated team visits the Coliseum in Arizona State. Leinart was hurt in the ASU game last year but returned with his team trailing 17-10 and led USC to a 37-17 win throwing for 289 yards and two TDs. His season stats are: 99-of-149 66.4 percent 1187 yards 10 TDs 3 INTs / 2 Rush TDs.

2) KYLE ORTON (Purdue) Last Week: 4. Orton was not perfect for the first time all year this past Saturday. Purdue, in an obvious let-down spot after its win over Notre Dame, had its hands full at Penn State. Tied at 10-all at the half, Orton opened the third quarter with his only TD pass of the game to give the Boilermakers a 17-10 lead. Later on though leading 17-13, he threw interceptions on consecutive possessions (his first two of the year!) but each time Penn State failed to cash in! Orton finished 24-of-35 for 275 yards with one TD and two interceptions. Purdue hosts Wisconsin this Saturday and the Badgers are tied with Miami allowing a nation-low 6.5 PPG and own the nation's stingiest defense, allowing just 198.3 YPG (126.3 YPG passing!). Orton was brilliant last year vs the Badgers, throwing for 411 yards in a 26-23 Purdue win. His season stats are: 119-of-172 69.2 percent 1642 yards 18 TDs 2 INTs / 2 Rush TDs.

3) JASON WHITE (Oklahoma) Last Week: 2. For the first time this year I have last year's winner below the number-two slot and after a season-low 113 yards passing in Oklahoma's 12-0 win over Texas (his second consecutive sub-200 yard game!), White is in danger of falling further! More of a concern than his low yardage total was his two interceptions and one fumble while completing 14-of-26 passes without a TD. RB Adrian Peterson gives White a weapon he did not have last year and although he may not win this year's Heisman, he may be in a better position to claim the national championship. A trade I'm sure he'd make RIGHT NOW! White leads his Sooners into Manhattan, Kansas this Saturday to face Kansas State, the team that exposed White and the Sooners last year by TROUNCING them 35-7 in the Big-12 title game! White hurt his hand in that game and coupled with some swollen knees was ineffective in that game and the Sugar Bowl vs LSU, after being near-perfect up to that point. His season stats are: 81-of-122 66.4 percent 972 yards 9 TDs 3 INTs.

4) CEDRIC BENSON (Texas) Last Week: 3. Benson was not a non-factor vs Oklahoma this past Saturday like he was two year's ago when he had just 21 yards rushing in a 65-13 rout but he lost a key fumble and was held under 100 yards for the first time this year in Saturday's 12-0 loss and gained just 92 yards in 23 carries. He was held without a rushing TD after a school record-tying 11 consecutive games with at least one and saw he Heisman chances BADLY damaged. Texas has not been able to win the 'big ones' in Benson's career but it's still a long season and things can change. The Longhorns host Missouri this Saturday, a team that's won three straight games since losing at Troy and sports a QB in Brad Smith who was considered a Heisman-hopeful himself earlier this year. Neither Texas nor Benson can afford another poor effort. Benson's season stats are: 121 carries 838 yards 6.9 YPC 7 TDs / 8 catches 1 TD catch.

5) ANDREW WALTER (Arizona State) Last Week: 6. Others may favor Cal's Aaron Rodgers over Walter but I believe Walter's had the better year so far, despite Rodgers' unbelievable performance last Saturday. Walter and the Sun Devils had last week off but they won't be 'resting' this Saturday as they travel to LA to meet the top-ranked Trojans. Walter threw for 305 yards against USC last year in a 20-point loss (ASU led 17-10 early in the third quarter!) but he'll have to be near-perfect for the Sun Devils to win here. Fair or not, if the Sun Devils don't win he'll probably be judged against Rodgers' numbers in the Coliseum, an unattainable target! Walter's season stats are: 98-of-179 54.7 percent 1249 yards 15 TDs 1 INT.

6) ADRIAN PETERSON (Oklahoma) Last Week: NR. Do I have Peterson too high or too low? My guess is most will argue too low after his BRILLIANT 32-carry 225-yard performance in Oklahoma's 12-0 win last Saturday in the Cotton Bowl! Peterson opened the season with a 100-yard game and has become the first Oklahoma player-ever to open his career with five straight 100-yard games! After what we all saw this past weekend there figures to be many more 100-yard games and for that matter, 200-yard games in Peterson's future. As for now, I'll place the freshman at No. 6. Since this is a subjective listing, I give extra-credit for career accomplishments. Peterson's season stats are: 119 carries 771 yards 6.5 YPC 6 TDs.

7) Aaron Rodgers and JJ Arrington (California) Last Week: NR. I've had Arrington in my top-10 before (his 112-yard effort on 21 carries vs USC makes it four-for-four for Arrington this year in topping 100 yards!) but Rodgers makes his first appearance. Should he be higher? There is little doubt that last weeks' performance of completing his first 23 passes against USC speaks for itself but he did however throw three incompletions and get sacked in four tries with a chance to win the game at the end. Rodgers entered the game completing 74 percent on the season and he actually IMPROVED on his percentage but his overall numbers this year don't measure up to Orton's or Walter's plus he doesn't have the pedigree of Leinart or White. He just may however prove me wrong before the year is out. I'm more than willing to be convinced. Cal hosts a UCLA team this Saturday that's won four straight since an opening-game loss to Oklahoma State and that beat Cal last year 23-20 (OT). Rodgers had 322 yards passing in that game while Arrington was just a backup. Rodgers' season stats are: 72-of-92 78.3 percent 881 yards 7 TDs 2 INTs / 2 Rush TDs. Arrington's stats are: 75 carries 578 yards 7.7 YPC 7 TDs.

8) VERNAND MORENCY (Oklahoma State) Last Week: 8. Morency reclaimed his spot as the nation's leading rusher last week moving past Ryan Moats of La Tech and Cedric Benson by rushing for 165 yards (27 carries) and two TDs as OSU routed Colorado, 42-14! Morency gained notoriety at the end of last year when subbing for an injured Tatum Bell, he ran for 269 yards and 227 yards in consecutive games against Kansas and Baylor. He's followed this year with a 261-yard game in the team's season-opener against UCLA and has gone on to top 100 yards in each game this season, as well as scoring at least one TD in each game. He'll get first big test this Saturday as a red-hot A&M team visits Stillwater on a four-game winning streak in which it has outscored its opponents 134-39. A&M is allowing 106.4 YPG rushing and 2.9 YPC while Morency averages 173.8 YPG. His season stats are: 131 carries 869 yards 6.6 YPC 8 TDs.

9) LAURENCE MARONEY (Minnesota) Last Week: 9. Maroney broke an 80-yard TD run to get Minnesota going in Ann Arbor last Saturday (were trailing 10-0 at the time) but as is ALWAYS the case when the Gophers play the Wolverines, they failed to hold a late lead, losing to Michigan AGAIN, 27-24! There is no knocking Maroney's achievements this year as he's topped 100 yards in all six of Minnesota's games and owns a school-record seven consecutive 100-yard games. He doing all this with backfield mate Marion Barber III chipping in for over 600 yards and eight TDs. Minnesota visits East Lansing this Saturday to plat Michigan State, a team that beat them in Minnesota last year 44-38! Maroney's stats are: 117 carries 815 yards 7.0 YPC 6 TDs.

10) BRAYLON EDWARDS (Michigan) Last Week: NR. Edwards caught 85 passes for 1138 yards and 14 TDs but was overshadowed by the wide-receiving firm of Williams (Mike), Williams (Reggie) & Williams (Roy), not to mention Heisman runner-up Larry Fitzgerald. Edwards has the stage all to himself this year though (Purdue fans may argue with Taylor Stubblefield!) and despite a freshman QB has caught at least six passes in every game this season (he's twice topped 10!) and has caught at least one TD pass in five of Michigan's first six games! He had 10 catches for 98 yards (one TD) in Michigan's 27-24 win over Minnesota last Saturday and it wasn't his fault when the Wolverines lost at Notre Dame back on 9/11, as he nabbed a season-high 12 catches. Michigan visits Illinois on Saturday a team they beat last year 56-14! Edward's season stats are: 50 catches 763 yards 15.3 YPC 8 TDs.

DROPPED OUT:

No. 5 David Greene (Georgia). One week after a career-game vs LSU, Greene and Georgia lose to Tennessee!
No. 7 Carnell Williams (Auburn). Tigers are ranked 4th but Williams has failed to get 100 yards in four straight games!
No. 10 Reggie Bush (USC). He tried to 'ice' the game vs Cal with an 84-yard KO return but that was his only 'big' play!

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