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Weekly Heisman Rankings
by Larry Ness - 09/15/2008
1) CHASE DANIEL (Missouri) Last Week: 2. Daniel led the Tigers to an 8-5 record in 2006, just the second time Missouri had won eight games in the previous 25 seasons. However, Daniel was just "warming up." Missouri's 12-2 finish after a 38-7 win over Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl last year, allowed the Tigers to finish No. 4 in the final AP poll, the school's highest-ever final ranking. Missouri was ranked No. 6 in the AP's preseason poll (also the highest ranking ever for the school) and after the team's 69-17 win on Saturday over Nevada, the Tigers are No. 5 in this week's AP poll. Daniel is off to a terrific start in '08. He opened with a 323-yard passing game and three TDs in a 52-42 win over then-No. 20 Illinois and then completed 16-of-17 passes (at 94.1, it was the highest single-game completion percentage in school history) for 245 yards and three more TDs as Missouri routed Southeast Missouri State 52-3 on September 6. The Tigers took on Nevada this past Saturday in Columbia, a team which held Texas Tech's Graham Harrell "under wraps" the Saturday before in Reno. It was never close. Chase Daniel completed 23-of-28 passes for 405 yards and four TDs as the Tigers rolled up 621 yards in a 69-21 win. Daniel (9,153) became the all-time leading passer in school history in the first quarter, passing Brad Smith (8,799) and the 69 points tied a school record set in a 69-21 win over Kansas in 1969. It marked his 14th career 300-yard passing game and his third of 400-plus yards. Missouri leads the nation in scoring (57.7 PPG) plus total offense (597.3 YPG) after three games and I'm moving Daniel up to my top spot this week. Missouri hosts an improved Buffalo team this Saturday but let's note that Missouri has now won nine straight home games and 17 of the past 18 at home. His season stats are: 65-of 90 (72.2 percent) for 973 yards with 10 TDs and one INT / 10 carries for 58 yards (5.8 YPC) 0 TDs.
2) SAM BRADFORD (Oklahoma) Last Week: 4. Bradford was spectacular as a red-shirt freshman last year, throwing for 3,121 yards (69.5 percent) with 36 TDs and eight INTs. His 36 TD passes were a new NCAA freshman single-season record and his QB rating of 176.52 led the nation last year. Oklahoma's defense was the star in its season-opening 57-2 win over Chattanooga, limiting them to just 36 yards of total offense (20 passing, 16 rushing). However, Bradford was hardly silent, completing 17-of-22 for 183 yards with two TDs and no INTs. The sophomore has been sensational the last two weeks. In leading the Sooners to their 20th consecutive home win (longest active home winning streak), a 52-26 win over Cincinnati on September 6, Bradford completed 29-of-38 passes for 395 yards, throwing five TDs and his first two INTs of the year (only the second multiple-interception game of his career). The 395 yards was a career high (third 300-yard game of his career) and the five TD passes tied a career-high (he'd done it twice before). Oklahoma is 56-2 in Norman under Stoops and has scored 30-plus in 15 straight home games. As impressive as that game was, Bradford was just as good in last Saturday's visit to Washington. The Sooners beat the Huskies 55-14, handing Washington its largest margin of defeat at home since 1929, when it lost 48-0 to Southern California. It marked Bob Stoops' 100th career win in 123 games. The only active coach to reach the milestone more quickly was Penn State's Joe Paterno. However, this is about Bradford, who completed 18-of-21 passes for 304 yards (4th career 300-yard game) while matching his career high with five TDs (zero INTs). He also ran for a sixth score. Bradford's season stats are: 64-of-81 (79.0 percent) for 882 yards with 12 TDs and two INTs.
3) TIM TEBOW (Florida) Last Week:1. The Gators were idle last week but visit Knoxville on Saturday, for their annual game with the Vols. Will Tebow have a "breakout" game? He'll need it to keep pace with Daniel and Bradford. Tebow is a tremendously likeable guy and he's got plenty of "good will" stored up, much like lone two-time Heisman winner Archie Griffin. Tebow led Florida to a 26-3 win on September 6 over Miami, ending a six-game losing streak to the hated-Hurricanes (first win since 1985 in this on-and-off series). Tebow's numbers were hardly anything special, as he completed 21-of-35 passes for 256 yards with two TDs plus ran 13 times for 55 yards (no TDs). Florida's defense, not its offense, was the star of this game, holding the Hurricanes to 140 total yards. The Gators needed 17 fourth-quarter points to gain their final margin. Tebow helped the Gators win the national title in his freshman year (2006), offering a "change of pace" to Florida's starting QB that year, Chris Leak. Tebow attempted just 33 passes in '06, throwing five TDs with only one INT. However, in a sign of things to come, ran 89 times for 469 yards (5.3 YPC) while scoring eight TDs. He led a young Florida team a 9-4 mark in 2007, becoming the first player in NCAA history to pass (32) and run (23) for 20 TDs or more in the same season. He completed 66.9 percent of his 350 attempts, while throwing just six INTs (finished second in passing efficiency with a QB rating of 172.47). His 210 rushing attempts were more than double the number of any other player on the team, as he ran for 895 yards (4.3 YPC). He set an NCAA record for rushing TDs by a QB (23), an SEC record for TDs accounted for (55) and a school-record for total offense (4,181 yards). He accomplished all this despite suffering a bruised shoulder in the middle of the season and playing with a fractured right hand in Florida's regular season finale vs Florida St. Tebow is not expected to run the ball as much this year and it's unlikely he'll approach his stats from last year. His season stats are: 30-of-49 for 393 yards (61.2 percent) with three TDs and 0 INTs / 22 carries for 92 yards (4.2 YPC) 0 TDs.
4) MARK SANCHEZ (USC) Last Week: 5. My preseason top-10 listed QBs Todd Boeckman (Ohio State), Cullen Harper (Clemson) and Matthew Stafford (Georgia) at the No. 8 spot. Playing QB for a national title contender is always a good way to get involved in the Heisman 'hunt' but after the season's first weekend, I moved USC's Mark Sanchez into my No. 8 spot after he threw three TD passes in his first game as the Trojans' true No. 1 QB on August 30, as USC won 52-7 at Virginia. He was just a little more than three weeks removed from a dislocated kneecap that kept him out of practice until the season opener, but he completed 26-of-35 for 338 yards with those three TDs and one INT. The win vaulted USC to No. 1 in the first regular season AP poll (up from its No. 3 preseason ranking). The Trojans were idle the following week but last Saturday, faced No. 5 Ohio State in one of the '08 season's most highly anticipated games. It was "no contest," as the Trojans routed the Buckeyes, 35-3. Ohio State, a decisive loser in the last two BCS title games, had the ball for more than 20 minutes in the first half and gained 177 yards to USC's 172, but left the field trailing 21-3. Sanchez threw two TD passes to Damian Williams in the third quarter to put Ohio State away and once the Buckeyes fell behind, they were helpless against the USC defense (Ohio State gained only 30 yards in the second half). Sanchez completed 17-of-28 passes for 172 yards with four TDs and one INT. USC's dominating win, solidified the team's No. 1 ranking (61 first-place votes in this week's AP poll) and makes the Trojans the clear favorite to be one of the two teams in this year's BCS title game. If USC "runs the table," Sanchez could wind up in New York as one of the Heisman finalists. USC again has an off week (nice schedule-maker), playing in Corvallis against Oregon State on September 25 (a Thursday night game). His season stats are: 43-of-63 (68.3 percent) for 510 yards with seven TDs and two INTs.
5) GRAHAM HARRELL (Texas Tech) Last Week: 7. Harrell began the '06 season (his sophomore year) at Texas Tech as the school's starting QB. It marked the first time since 2001 that the Red Raiders did not open the year with a senior at that position. All Harrell did in '06 was complete 412-of-617 passes (66.8 percent) for 4,555 yards with 38 TDs and 11 INTs. All he did last year as a junior, was to improve on those numbers! Harrell completed 512-of-713 passes in '07 (71.8 percent) for 5,705 yards with 48 TDs and 14 INTs. His 646 yards passing at Oklahoma State was the fourth-highest single-game mark in NCAA history and by year's end he had become just the fifth QB in NCAA history with two 4,000-yard seasons on his resume. Texas Tech's pass-happy offense was in midseason form against an overmatched Eastern Washington in the team's season-opener, winning 49-24 on August 30. Harrell completed 43-of-58 passes for 536 yards with two TDs and one INT plus also ran for a score. He connected with eight different receivers and his 536-yard effort gave him 23 games of 300 passing yards of more, including 15 games of 400-plus. Texas Tech then traveled to Reno on September 6 and while the Red Raiders outscored Nevada 21-7 in the final 20 minutes to come away with a 35-19 win, Harrell had a terrible game (by his standards). Harrell and Michael Crabtree hooked up for an 82-yard TD pass in the early fourth quarter, as Tech opened a 28-12 lead but Harrell was just 19-46 for 297 yards (one TD / two INTs), his lowest passing total since 2006. His 19 completions and 41.3 percent completion percentage were also career lows as a starter, plus it marked just the fourth time since he took over as Tech's starting QB in '06, in which he had failed to throw at least two TD passes in a game. It's games like that which fuel the "boatload full of critics" who argue that it's "the system not the QB". However, Harrell "took no prisoners" this past Saturday back at home in Lubbock. SMU's defense was no match for the Red Raiders, as Harrell completed 31-of-48 passes for 418 yards with five TDs and no INTs in the 43-7 win. He threw TD passes of 23, 47, 50, 7 and 44, with three of them going to Michael Crabtree, who caught eight passes for 164 yards. It was Harrell's 24th 300-yard game and 16th of 400 or more yards. He now owns 97 career TD passes. Six players have thrown at least 100 career TDs all-time, with Colt Brennan topping the list with 131 and with U Mass up next this coming Saturday in Lubbock, that list should grow to seven by this coming weekend. I'm not really sure where to put Harrell but for now, I'll place him at No. 5. His season stats are: 93-of-152 (61.2 percent) for 1,251 yards with eight TDs and three INTs.
6) KNOWSHON MORENO (Georgia) Last Week: 3. The Bulldogs opened the season No. 1 in the AP preseason poll for the first time in school history. However, the Bulldogs' season-opening 45-21 win over Georgia Southern was not good enough for them to hold on to the top spot, dropping to No.2 (behind USC) after the season's first regular season weekend. The Bulldogs handily dispatched Central Michigan on September 6, 56-17, holding on to the No. 2 spot behind idle USC. Sophomore RB Knowshon Moreno carried just eight times (59 yards) in the opener but did score three rushing TDs. He was much better in the win over CMU, rushing for 168 yards on 18 carries, as he tied his career high with three TDs for the second straight week (it was his 7th career 100-yard game). However, the Bulldogs struggled this past Saturday in Columbia. While Georgia won its 10th straight (second-longest active streak to BYU's 13 consecutive wins) and avenged last year's 16-12 home loss to South Carolina, the Bulldogs' 14-7 win hardly impressed the pollsters. Georgia fell to No. 3 in the recent AP poll (Oklahoma is now No. 2), becoming the first preseason No. 1 to fall to No. 3 after a 3-0 start, since Oklahoma did the same thing back in 1985. Moreno's four-yard TD run in the third quarter put the Bulldogs ahead to stay, as the defense kept turning the Gamecocks back for a 14-7 victory. Moreno finished with just 79 yards on 20 carries, not the kind of numbers he'll need to make a run at the Heisman. The Bulldogs finished last year with seven straight wins, as Moreno turned into a star in the first five games of that season-ending run by Georgia. He gained 766 yards or 153.2 YPG during that five-game stretch and finished his freshman season with 1,334 yards rushing (5.4 YPC) and 14 TDs. Moreno's the lone RB I have listed in my top-10 and he won't stay here long with any more games of less than 100 yards. Georgia travels to Arizona State this Saturday, a game which was supposed to feature two top-15 programs. However, the Sun Devils lost 23-20 (in OT) last Saturday night at home, to of all schools, UNLV! So much for that. Moreno's season stats are: 46 carries for 306 yards (6.7 YPC with seven TDs / seven catches for 96 yards (13.7 YPC) with 0 TDs.
7) PAT WHITE (West Virginia) Last Week: 6. White entered this year having won Big East POY the last two seasons, with 4,207 career passing yards (64.2 percent), 35 TDs and 16 INTs. He's added 3,506 rushing yards (7.1 YPC) and scored 39 rushing TDs, topping 100 yards in 15 games. White's also a perfect 3-0 in bowl games in his career, leading West Va past Georgia 38-35 in the Sugar Bowl in his freshman season and beating Ga Tech (also 38-35) in the Gator Bowl as a sophomore. His three-year bowl record is very impressive, as he's completed 30-of-48 passes (62.5 percent) for 427 yards (5 TDPs / 0 INTs), while rushing 66 times for 372 yards (65.6 YPC) and one TD. West Va opened the '08 season with a home date against Villanova on August 30. The Wildcats offered little resistance to White and Co, as the Mountaineers won 48-21. White had 271 total yards (208 pass yards / 63 rush yards) and now has 7,984 yards of total offense, passing Marc Bulger for the most total yards in school history. He completed 25-of-33 passes with five TDs and just one INT, while rushing nine times without a score. White had never before thrown more than two TD passes in a single game, so his five-TD effort was impressive, even if it came against 'Nova. White became the fourth QB in West Va history to throw for TDs in a single game (Brad Lewis last accomplished the feat in 2000). As I mentioned in my Heisman preview, West Virginia had a realistic shot at going unbeaten in '08, which sure wouldn't have hurt White's chances of winning the Heisman. However, the Mountaineers were embarrassed on September 6 at Greenville, North Carolina, losing 24-3 to East Carolina. The three-point effort marked the first time since 2001 West Virginia was held without a TD. White ran for 97 yards in 20 carries but passed for a pathetic 72 yards, while completing 11-of-18 passes. East Carolina had entered that game with seven straight losses to West Va and an all-time mark of 2-17, having been outscored by an average score of 33-15. White and West Va had last Saturday off to think about "what might have been" this year. The Mountaineers play Thursday night at Boulder and a loss to Colorado would all but end even the slightest Heisman 'talk' surrounding White. His season stats are: 36-of-51 for 280 yards (70.6 percent) five TDs one INT / 29 carries for 160 yards (5.5 YPC) 0 TDs.
8) JEREMY MACLIN Maclin (Missouri) Last Week: 10. Maclin was listed in the No. 9 spot in my preseason Heisman top-10, along with fellow WRs Michael Crabtree (Texas Tech) and Percy Harvin (Florida). The trio were listed together as a tribute to the only three WRs to have ever won the Heisman. That group included Johnny Rodgers (Nebraska) in '72, Tim Brown (Notre Dame) in '87 and Desmond Howard (Michigan) in '91. The one thing all of these three winners had in common was their ability to return kicks. After the season's first week, I left Maclin alone at No. 9 on the basis of his spectacular effort in Missouri's 52-42 win over Illinois on August 30. With Missouri down 13-10 in the second quarter (after a Daniel INT was returned for a TD), Maclin returned the ensuing KO for a 99-yard TD, sparking the Tigers to a 21-0 run, which gave them a 31-13 halftime lead. Before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with a sprained left ankle, Jeremy Maclin had 206 all-purpose yards, including a 45-yd punt return and that 99-yd kickoff return for a TD. He only had four catches for 31 yards plus three runs for just two yards but those kick returns are the ones that make the "highlight reels." Missouri played its home opener on September 6 against Southeast Missouri but hardly needed much from Maclin. He played sparingly, catching two passes for 20 yards (one TD) and rushing once for 11 yards. He was much healthier this past Saturday and he had a terrific game in Missouri's rout of Nevada (also see Daniel). He caught six passes for 172 yards with three TDs (covering 80, 14 and 49 yards). He only ran for five yards (two attempts) but added 39 yards on two KO returns and another 23 yards on four punt returns. I really like this guy and he could be "movin' on up" this list, very shortly. His season stats are: 12 catches for 223 yards (18.6 YPC) / six carries for 18 yards (3.0 YPC) / 113 punt return yards and 200 KO return yards / all-purpose 179.3 YPG ranks him 12th in the nation).
9) TODD REESING (Kansas) Last Week: 9. Reesing had thrown just 24 passes as a freshman when he stepped in as Kansas' starting QB at the beginning of last year. The Jayhawks entered the '07 season having never finished in the upper half of the Big 12 North since its inception in 1996. In fact, Kansas' best conference record had been just 3-5 and the Jayhawks Big 12 record stood at 23-65 over 11 years. So what happened? The Jayhawks won their first 11 games, before losing to Missouri in Kansas City, 36-28. However, Kansas bounced back from that loss to beat Va Tech 24-21 in the Orange Bowl to finish 12-1 (first time in school history a Kansas team had won more than 10 games). Reesing was terrific in '07, completing 276-of-446 passes (61.9 percent) for 3,486 yards with 33 TDs and just seven INTs. In the team's 40-10 season-opening win over FIU, he was 37-of-52 for 256 yards with three TDs and one INT. The Jayhawks then beat La Tech 29-0 on September 6, as Reesing passed for a career-high 412 yards (32-of-38), the third-highest single-game total in school history. He threw three more TDs and wasn't picked off. It marked the school's 11th straight home game, the second-longest streak in school history. However, Reesing and the then-No. 13 Jayhawks lost last Friday night in Tampa to the then-No.19 USF Bulls, 37-34. Kansas jumped out to a 20-3 lead but USF rallied to score the game's next 31 points to take a 34-20 lead. Reesing's two 4th-quarter TD passes tied the game but USF won on a 43-yard FG on the game's final play. A week after throwing for a career-best 412 yards against Louisiana Tech, Reesing went 34-of-51 for 373 yards and three touchdowns with one INT. Kansas returns home to Lawrence on Saturday and with Sam Houston State as its opponent, will surely extend its home winning streak to 12 in a row. His season stats are: 103-of-141 (73.1 percent) for 1,041 yards with nine TDs and two INTs.
10) MAX HALL (BYU) Last Week: NR. Max Hall re-shirted his freshman year ('04) at Arizona State and then transferred to BYU but left for a mission. When he took over as BYU's starting QB, he hadn't played a competitive game in four years. All he did in '07 was lead BYU to an 11-2 season, ending the season on a 10-game winning streak after its 17-16 Las Vegas Bowl win over UCLA. Hall passed for 3,848 yards in '07, throwing 26 TDs and just 12 INTs (completed 60.1 percent). So what's he been up to in '08? He's helped the Cougars extend the nation's longest active winning streak to 13 straight wins, including a highly controversial 28-27 win at Washington on September 6 (can you say "excessive celebration?") and a 59-0 win over UCLA in Provo last Saturday, which was the Bruins' worst loss since 1929, when they were shut out by Southern California 76-0. Hall completed 27-of-35 passes for 271 yards and tied a school record with seven TD passes (one INT) against UCLA. BYU puts its 13-game overall winning streak and 14-game home winning streak on the line this Saturday when it hosts Wyoming. His season stats are: 91-of-117 (77.8 percent) for 1,095 yards with 12 TDs and two INTs.