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Heisman Trophy Top 10

   by Larry Ness - 10/25/2004

Purdue has never had a Heisman winner and they sure won't end that winless streak in 2004 as Kyle Orton's Heisman hopes have all but ended the last two weeks with Purdue losses to Wisconsin and Michigan. The Heisman race is shaping up as a battle between the starting QB on the nation's top-ranked team, a sixth-year senior from the nation's second-ranked team (plus the defending Heisman-winner) as well as his true freshman teammate, a RB that's become just the sixth player in college football history to have topped 1,000 yards rushing in all four of his seasons and the one-two QB-RB combo from of all places, Berkeley! My latest Heisman top-10 follows....

1) MATT LEINART (USC) Last Week: 1. No. 1 USC had little trouble last Saturday as they shut out Washington, 38-0. QB Matt Leinart had a fairly workman-like effort and for the first time all year, I feel as if his place at the top of my Heisman list is somewhat tenuous! After a scoreless first quarter USC took a 10-0 lead into the half on a beautiful 'touch' pass from Leinart to Reggie Bush and Leinart added a second TD pass in the third quarter (a 29-yarder) to give the Trojans a comfortable 24-0 lead. He finished the game 24-of-43 for 217 yards with two TDs and one interception. USC remains unbeaten and No. 1 but it's hard not to take notice of the fact that Leinart's three-lowest single-game yardage totals this year have come in his last three outings. Still the following numbers keep him at the top of my Heisman list. He's now 19-1 as a starter with two or more TD passes in 18 of those 20 games (at least ! one TD in all 20). During USC's 16-game winning streak Leinart has thrown 46 TD passes and just seven interceptions. I'll also note however, that his per game passing yards are about 40 YPG shy of last season's average and his TD pass per game ratio is down from 2.92/game in 2003 to 2.28/game this year! USC visits Pullman this Saturday to meet Washington State, a team's that's not only lost three straight games but its starting QB as well. USC beat WSU last year 43-16 with Leinart throwing for just 191 yards but had three TDs. His season stats are: 136-of-215 63.3 percent 1628 yards 16 TDs 4 INTs / 3 Rush TDs.

2) JASON WHITE (Oklahoma) Last Week: 2. The Jayhawks put eight players in the box in an effort to stop freshman RB Adrian Peterson last Saturday and Jason White made them PAY! White had 265 yards passing by halftime and by the third quarter had thrown TD passes of 61, 41 and 69 yards! White won last year's Heisman and similar his top-rival Matt Leinart, has seen his numbers fall off a little this year. White won't mind a bit however, if Peterson's presence in the backfield gets the Sooners back in the BCS title game! White finished with a season-high 389 passing yards against Kansas (27-of-44 with four TDs and no interceptions) as Oklahoma won its 18th straight home game (all by double-digits!), 41-10. Oklahoma gets a big test this Saturday as they visit Stillwater. Oklahoma State beat Oklahoma in both 2001 and 2002 (White was injured both years) before the Sooners beat the Co! wboys last year, 52-9. In that game however, White was just 11-of-27 for 194 yards with two TDs and two interceptions. White's season stats are: 128-of-197 65.0 percent 1617 yards 17 TDs 4 INTs.

3) CEDRIC BENSON (Texas) Last Week: 4. Benson topped 100 yards rushing for the 21st time in his career (Texas is a perfect 21-0 in those games!) and passed the 1000-yard mark for the fourth consecutive season this past Saturday, becoming just the sixth player to have ever accomplished that feat. Yet he was somewhat over-shadowed by teammate Vince Young, as the much-maligned QB ran for 158 yards and four TDs plus threw a TD pass in the Longhorns' 51-21 win at Texas Tech! Benson 'quietly' gained 168 yards in 38 carries with one TD. He's second in the nation in rushing (165.1 YPG) and has topped 100 yards in 11 of his last 13 games as well as scoring at least one rushing TD in 13 of his last 14 contests. Benson's not out of the Heisman race by any means but a win over Oklahoma back on 10/9 would have REALLY helped! Texas visits Boulder on Saturday to play Colorado a school it hasn't met since 2001.Benson's season stats are: 187 carries 1156 yards 6.2 YPC 10 TDs / 1 TD catch.

4) AARON RODGERS and JJ ARRINGTON (California) Last Week: 5. Arrington scored the Bears' first TD and topped 100 yards for the sixth consecutive game (24 carries for 135 yards) while Rodgers threw three second-quarter TD passes finishing 20-of-27 for 235 yards but with two interceptions (both on deflections!) as Cal routed Arizona 38-0. It's been impossible for me to separate these two teammates as they've led Cal to a No. 7 ranking, averaging a nation-best 508.3 YPG and 41 PPG (5th-best)! Rodgers owns the second-best QB rating in the nation at 178.9 while Arrington's average of 153 YPG ranks him fourth in rushing. Cal will host high-scoring Arizona State this Saturday, a school that features its own Heisman-hopeful in Andrew Walter. Cal beat ASU last year in Tempe 51-23 as Rodgers threw for 307 yards (just 17 completions) and three TDs. Arrington was a complimentary player last season and had 52 yards and a! TD in the game. Rodgers' season stats are: 111-of-148 75.0 percent 1376 yards 14 TDs 4 INTs / 2 Rush TDs. Arrington's stats are: 128 carries 918 yards 7.2 YPC 10 TDs.

5) ADRIAN PETERSON (Oklahoma) Last Week: 6. Kansas decided they were going to try and stop Peterson last week and for three quarters they did, holding him to just 23 yards rushing. The only flaw in that logic was that while Peterson was being bottled-up, White was throwing for three TDs and the Sooners led 28-10 entering the final period. Peterson finally got going in the final quarter scoring on an 11-yard run and gaining nearly 100 yards in the final stanza. Oklahoma won 41-10 with Peterson gaining 122 yards on 22 carries. He's topped 100 yards in all seven of Oklahoma's games this season and joined Marshall Faulk and Emmitt Smith as the only freshman to reach 1,000 yards in seven games. His 146.1 YPG average places him fifth nationally. Peterson gets his first visit to Stillwater this Saturday. His season stats are: 177 carries 1023 yards 5.8 YPC 7 TDs.

6) VERNAND MORENCY (Oklahoma State) Last Week: 7. Morency is carrying this team on his back as his 164.7 YPG average (3rd nationally) is made even more impressive by the fact that the Cowboys rank 111th out of 117 Division 1-A schools with just 132 YPG passing! OSU trailed Missouri 17-0 with less than a minute to go before the half last Saturday but the Cowboys drove 80 yards in just 50 seconds (Morency had runs of 21 and 19 yards!) to close the gap to 17-7. Tied at 17-all in the fourth quarter, Morency carried eight times for 45 yards as the Cowboys drove 78 yards for the game-winning 28-yard field goal with just 55 seconds remaining! Morency finished with 173 yards on 31 carries in the 20-17 win (his ninth straight regular season game of more than 100 yards) but he failed to score a TD after getting into the end zone in each of his previous nine contests. Oklahoma comes to town t! his Saturday and if Morency (a backup to Tatum Bell in last year's 52-9 Oklahoma rout, getting just two carries) can lead the Cowboys to an upset (they beat OU in both 2001 and 2002!), his Heisman hopes my be turn into more than just HOPES! His season stats are: 190 carries 1153 yards 6.1 YPC 9 TDs.

7)ALEX SMITH (Utah) Last Week: 9. Smith like his team continues to impress. The Utes opened their game last week vs UNLV by returning the opening kickoff 100 yards for a TD (on a reverse no less!) and by the end of the first quarter led 28-7. Smith accounted for three TDs in the first quarter (two TD passes and a 70-yard TD run) and finished 11-of-19 for 147 yards with three TDs and no interceptions, as well as nine carries for 77 yards and another score. Utah has now won 11 straight games (third-longest in the nation) and remains 9th in the latest AP poll. The Utes were 7th in the first BCS rankings, in thanks to a No. 4 ranking in the computer polls. A sixth-place finish and they'll go to a BCS Bowl! Smith is 16-1 as a starter with 28 TD passes, just five interceptions and 13 rushing TDs! Utah visits SD State on Saturday. Smith threw for three TDs and 273 yards last year as the Utes beats the Aztecs 27-6. His s! eason stats are: 109-170 64.1 percent 1607 yards 15 TDs 2 INTs / 68 carries 339 yards 5.0 YPC 8 TDs.

8) KYLE ORTON (Purdue) Last Week: 3. It was fun while it lasted! Orton opened the year by tossing 17 TD passes with no interceptions as the Boilermakers rolled to a 4-0 start. His decline began in a narrow win over Penn State (20-13) when he threw two interceptions. Two weeks ago vs Wisconsin, Purdue blew a 17-7 4th-quarter lead at home as Orton had two fumbles (the last was returned 40 yards for the game-winning score!) and another interception. Orton had his worst statistical day of the year this past Saturday (14-of-30 for 213 yards with one TD and one interception), as the Boilermakers lost another close one at home, 16-14 to Michigan. Orton and Purdue finish with road games at Northwestern (this Saturday) and Iowa before hosting Ohio State and Indiana but Orton will be lucky to even get an invite to New York now! His season stats are: 158-of-247 64.0 percent 2090 yards 20 TDs 4 INTs.

9) ANDREW WALTER (Arizona State) Last Week: 10. After a horrible performance two weeks ago in a 45-7 loss at USC, Walter rebounded with a career-high six-TD game vs UCLA this past Saturday! ASU trailed 42-31 with just under seven minutes left but Walter connected on TD passes of 46 and 65 yards less than two minutes apart to lead the Sun Devils to a 48-42 win. He finished 25-of-51 for 415 yards with six TDs and three interceptions. He now has 76 career TD passes and is just one shy of the all-time Pac-10 record of 77 held by John Elway. Walter leads his Sun Devils into Berkeley this Saturday and he'll have to do much better than his 11-of-26 170-yard two-interception performance against the Bears last year in a 51-23 home loss, to give any real credence to his Heisman-hopes! His season stats are: 142-of-264 53.8 percent 1845 yards 21 TDs 6 INTs.

10) DAVID GREENE (Georgia) Last Week: NR. Greene nabs my final spot after a career-high 382-yard game in last week's 20-14 win at Arkansas. Georgia gained over 500 yards in the game as Greene completed 22-of-29 passes with two TDs and no interceptions but two fumbles and two missed field goals prevented the Bulldogs from winning by a bigger margin. Greene has had a truly remarkable career at Athens. After winning at Fayetteville last week, he's 14-1 in his 15 career road starts and his 38 career wins ties him with Rick Leach and Ken Dorsey for second on the all-time NCAA wins list. He can tie Peyton Manning for first all-time with a win over the Gators this Saturday in the "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party"! Georgia lost 16-13 in Jacksonville last year as Greene was just 20-of-33 for 221 yards with one TD and two interceptions. His season stats are: 106-of-185 57.3 percent 1491 yards 12 TDs 1 INT / 1 Ru! sh TD.


No. 8 Jason Campbell (Auburn). Someone had to go for me to include Greene and Campbell's 11-of-15 127-yard no-TD performance in Auburn's 42-10 win over Kentucky made him the choice.

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