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Random Thoughts

   by Larry Ness - 11/15/2004

My Heisman Top-10 follows....

CFB NOTES: While the only game this coming Saturday that features two top-25 opponents is No. 9 Wisconsin at No. 17 Iowa, the schedule is FULL of important games....

Starting from the top of the AP top-25 there is:

No. 2 Auburn at Alabama
No. 4 Cal vs Stanford
No. 5 Utah hosting BYU
No. 7 Michigan at Ohio State
No. 10 Florida St hosts Florida
No. 15 Va Tech hosts Maryland (Thurs)

All these games could have a major impact on conference races and BCS bids....

Remember, if USC, Oklahoma and Auburn all finish unbeaten meaning ONE gets left out of the BCS title game, it's NOT the BCS' fault! Rather it's the FAULT of a college football hierarchy that REFUSES to discuss a viable playoff scenario....

While UCF lost again falling to 0-10 in 2004 and remains the ONLY winless team among the 117 Division 1-A schools (14 straight losses going back
to last year), here's some GOOD NEWS for some lovable losers....

Ball State, Buffalo, Duke, Kentucky and Temple entered weekend play with a cumulative record of 5-40 but ALL FIVE WON ON SATURDAY!...

NFL NOTES: Ten teams in the NFL have records of 6-3 or better and only two, Philadelphia (7-1) and Atlanta (7-2), reside in the NFC....

It would be hard to argue against the fact that right now Pittsburgh and New England are the two best teams in the NFL. The AFC also has six teams that are at 6-3, including the surprising Chargers and the latest "Cardiac Kids", the Jaguars....

Ben Roethlisberger may stand alone right now as the first QB since the merger to have opened his career by winning his first seven starts as a rookie but should he be looking in his rear-view mirror for Chicago's Craig
Krenzel who has started 3-0 for the Bears?....

For the record, Krenzel has completed just 43.0 percent of his passes, has two TD passes with four interceptions,
has been sacked 17 times and owns a QB rating of 49.4! Now that's what I call a WINNER!....

Heisman Top-10
Monday, November 15

The 2004 Heisman race now looks as if it will come down to ONE of three players, just like the national title race looks as if it's down to USC, Oklahoma and Auburn. That comes as no surprise to me, as year-long followers of my Heisman top-10 know. My latest poll follows....

1) MATT LEINART (USC) Last Week: 1. The Trojans started slowly last Saturday against Arizona and led just 14-3 at the half. Leinart fumbled late in the first half missing an opportunity to increase the lead and then both he and Bush fumbled on consecutive third-quarter possessions. That being said, Leinart was TERRIFIC the rest of the way. He finished the 49-9 USC win with 27 completions (a career-high) in 35 attempts for 280 yards. Along the way, he connected on 11 straight passes and threw three TDs with no interceptions. The Trojans have been ranked No. 1 all season and now own 19 straight wins, 14 straight in the Pac-10 and 20 straight home wins, tying a school record! Leinart has thrown for 53 TD passes with just eight interceptions during the team's 19-game winning streak and is 22-1 as a starter (61 TDs and 14 interceptions), throwing for at least two TDs in 21 of the 23 games! What's your definition of a Heisman-winner? USC has the week off and will host Notre Dame on November 27.Leinart's season stats are: 203-of-309 65.7 percent 2348 yards 23 TDs 5 INTs / 3 Rush TDs.

2) JASON WHITE (Oklahoma) Last Week: 2. White actually threw three incompletions in his first eight pass attempts on Saturday but after that he settled down, completing a school-record 18 straight passes at one point (of course, he broke his own record of 16!). White finished with 29 completions in 35 attempts for 383 yards with three TDs and no interceptions, as Oklahoma took care of Nebraska 30-3 (Oklahoma has now won 19 straight home games, all by double-digits!). Adrian Peterson was slowed with a shoulder injury and hardly played at all in the first half. Recently, Oklahoma opponents have focused on Peterson and White has been nothing short of BRILLIANT! Over his last five games, he's thrown 19 TD passes with just one interception, while averaging 308.2 YPG passing! How's that for Heisman-like numbers. White no longer needs to worry about Peterson 'stealing' any votes but he does have to be concerned with the fact voters are unlikely to vote for last year's winner again! Oklahoma visits Baylor this Saturday, a team it beat 41-3 last year in Norman with White throwing for 307 yards and four TDs. His season stats are: 190-of-293 64.8 percent 2513 yards 28 TDs 4 INTs.

3) CEDRIC BENSON (Texas) Last Week: 3. For the second straight week Texas needed a comeback to win. The Longhorns scored 49 unanswered points to beat Oklahoma State two weeks ago and this past Saturday, scored twice in the game's final six minutes to escape Lawrence, Kansas with a 27-23 win over the Jayhawks. While it was Texas QB Vince Young who led the comeback, Benson scored the game's first TD plus had another 100-yard game (his 24th), running 28 times for 161 yards. Benson's TD gave him a TD in his 36th career game, setting a new NCAA record. His 161 yards, moved him into sixth place all-time on the career rushing list with 5305 yards. Benson's 159.9 YPG average places him third in the nation in rushing and his 19 TDs are the most scored by any player. Texas is now a perfect 24-0 when he rushes for 100 yards but his and his team's failures against Oklahoma, will most likely keep Benson from winning this year's Heisman. It seems almost IMPOSSIBLE though, that he won't be one of the players invited to New York! Texas does not play again until the day after Thanksgiving when the Longhorns host A&M. Benson's season stats are: 270 carries 1599 yards 5.9 YPC 18 TDs / 19 catches and 1 TD.

4) ALEX SMITH (Utah) Last Week: 7. Why not place Smith this high? Utah now owns that coveted 6th spot in the latest BCS standings and it is looking more and more likely that the Utes are going to 'crash' the BCS party. So why can't Smith 'crash' the Heisman party in New York? A 'brownout' in Wyoming last Saturday night couldn't stop Smith or the Utes as Utah scored on its first five possessions. The team led 31-7 by the early third quarter and only two VERY LATE scores by Wyoming, made the eventual 45-28 final as close as it was. Smith went 17-of-27 for 244 yards with three TDs and no interceptions plus ran for 90 yards (14 attempts) and a 27-yard score. Utah is now 10-0 for the first time in school history and owns the nation's third-longest current winning streak at 14 straight. Smith is now a remarkable 19-1 as Utah's starting QB, throwing for 40 TDs with just five interceptions during that span, as well as rushing for 14 TDs. Utah hosts its most-hated rival this Saturday in BYU. The Cougars lost to Utah last year just 3-0 (Smith passed for just 113 yards with one interception!) but that game was in Provo. The Utes get the Cougars in Salt Lake City this time around where they have averaged 52.4 PPG in five home games in 2004! Smith's season stats are: 169-of-256 66.0 percent 2440 yards 27 TDs 2 INTs / 106 carries 529 yards 5.0 YPC 9 Rush TDs.

5) ADRIAN PETERSON (Oklahoma) Last Week: 4. It's been a tough couple of weeks for the nation's most highly-touted freshman. Ever since the Texas game opposing defenses have shifted their focus to stopping Peterson. Then two weeks ago, Peterson dislocated his shoulder in Oklahoma's win over A&M. He was held to a season-low 3.5 YPC vs the Aggies and in this past Saturday's win over Nebraska, Peterson did not start and had just three carries for two yards in the first half. He returned to play every series of the second half but finished with a season-low 58 yards on 15 carries. That ended his NCAA record-run of nine consecutive 100-yard games to open his career. His 143.1 YPG average places him 7th in the nation in rushing yards and he will still have three more games to tie or eclipse Anthony Davis' freshman record of 10 100-yard rushing games in a season. His season stats are: 254 carries 1431 yards 5.6 YPC 9 TDs.

6) JJ ARRINGTON (California) Last Week: 5. All year long I've placed Arrington along with his team's QB, Aaron Rodgers, as an entry in this poll. Neither had great games on Saturday, as Cal slept-walked through the first half of its game at Washington. Arrington had just 37 yards rushing at the half and the Bears led just 7-6. A blocked punt for a TD got Cal going in the second half and with Arrington chipping in with 84 second-half yards and a five-yard TD run, the Bears pulled away to win, 42-12. By finishing with 121 yards on 22 carries, Arrington made it nine-for-nine this year with 100-yard efforts in every Cal game in 2004. The Pac-10 record for 100-yard games in a single season is held by Marcus Allen (11 in 1981) and Arrington not only has a chance to break that mark but he's sure to add a number of other Cal records to his resume before the year is out. He needs just 45 more yards to break Chuck Muncie's 29-year-old school record or rushing yards in a season plus he's on pace to become the first Cal player to lead the conference in rushing since Joe Kapp did it in 1958! Arrington ranks fourth in the nation with an average of 157.2 YPG rushing and 6.9 YPC is the best of any of the nation's top-50 rushers. Cal hosts Stanford this Saturday. Arrington's season stats are: 206 carries 1415 yards 6.9 YPC 13 TDs.

7) AARON RODGERS (California) Last Week: 5. I dropped Rodgers behind Arrington as he played a very 'lazy' first half vs Washington, throwing two interceptions. He finished the game just 12-of-23 for 161 yards with two TDs and two interceptions. Rodgers has had an outstanding year. His effort at USC, in which he completed his first 23 passes of the game, was one of the year's highlights but it did come in a losing effort. I think there is little doubt that Arrington and Rodgers will divide up the Cal votes and that neither will be a Heisman-finalist. Rodgers had 359 yards passing and three TDs in Cal's 28-16 win last year at Stanford. Another effort like that would be needed this Saturday, to keep his slim Heisman chances alive. His season stats are: 159-of-232 68.5 percent 1977 yards 20 TDs 6 INTs / 2 Rush TDs.

8) JASON CAMPBELL and CARNELL WILLIAMS (Auburn) Last Week: 9. Auburn DOMINATED Georgia on Saturday, leaving little doubt as to which was the best team in the SEC! Campbell made just one mistake in Auburn's 24-6 win over Georgia, an interception in the end zone on the Tigers' opening drive of the second half, when a score would have put them up 24-0. Williams, who accounted for the game's first two scores on a one-yard run and a 29-yard TD pass, returned a punt 42 yards late in the third quarter, to set up a Campbell TD pass that sealed Georgia's fate! Campbell finished 18-of-22 for 189 yards with one TD and one interception. Williams had his fourth 100-yard game of the season with 101 yards and a TD on 19 carries, plus added four catches for 19 yards as well as 79 yards on three punts returns. Auburn finishes its regular season this Saturday at Alabama. The Tigers beat the Tide last 28-23 last year in Auburn with Williams rushing for 204 yards and two TDs and Campbell passing for 270 yards (one TD and two INTs.). Campbell's season stats are: 132-of-195 67.7 percent 1913 yards 15 TDs 3 INTs / 3 Rush TDs. Williams' season stats are: 186 carries 963 yards 5.2 YPC 10 TDs / 15 catches with one TD.

9) ANDREW WALTER (Arizona State) Last Week: NR. Walter threw for five TD passes (no interceptions) and 332 yards in ASU's 45-28 win over Washington State, as the Sun Devils ended their home season unbeaten (6-0) for the first time since 1996! Walter had three TD passes in the game's first 11 minutes and finished with 26 completions in 41 attempts. His 30 TD passes on the year set a new single-season school record, surpassing the 29 Mike Pagel had in 1981. Walter already owns the Pac-10's career mark for TD passes and his five TD passes ups his total to 85. ASU is now 8-2 after going 5-7 last year and the Sun Devils finish their regular season this Saturday at Arizona. ASU beat Arizona last year in Tempe 28-7 with Walter throwing for 281 yards and three TDs. However, ASU lost at USC 45-7 and 27-0 at Cal this year, with Walter throwing three interceptions and ZERO TDs! That will keep him at the bottom-part of anybody's Heisman top-10! His season stats are: 221-of-388 57.0 percent 2830 yards 30 TDs 8 INTs.

10) MICHAEL HART (Michigan) Last Week: NR. I've had Hart's teammate WR Braylon Edwards in some of my past polls but it's hard to ignore the IMPACT this freshman has had on the Wolverines' fortunes this year. Michigan opened the 2004 season in search of a RB and after two games was averaging 90.5 YPG and 2.6 YPC as a team. Carr turned to the true freshman in Michigan's third game and Michigan has won all eight of its games since. The team is now just a win away (at Columbus) from a Rose Bowl berth. Hart ran for a season-high three TDs in last Saturday's 42-20 win over Northwestern, gaining 151 yards in 23 carries. He's topped the 100-yard mark in SIX of his eight games as the team's featured back with an average of 159.3 YPG. He also topped the 200-yard mark in three consecutive games this year for the Wolverines! As mentioned earlier, Michigan visits "the Horsehoe" on Saturday, with a trip to Pasadena on the line. Hart's season stats are: 243 carries 1311 yards 5.4 YPC 8 TDs / 1 TD catch.

DROPPED OUT:

No. 6 David Greene (Georgia). Great career but the home loss to Tennessee and last wek's DISMAL effort at Auburn leaves him on the outside-looking-in for 2004!

No. 10 Reggie Bush (USC). If this guy 'steals' any votes from his teammate Matt Leinart, there should be an investigation!


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