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Heisman Top 10

   by Larry Ness - 10/05/2008


1) CHASE DANIEL (Missouri) Last Week: 1. The Tigers ended two long road losing streaks on their march to the Big 12 North title last year, winning at Colorado for the first time since 1997 and at Kansas State for the first time since 1989. Missouri one-upped those streaks this past Saturday night, as the Tigers' 52-17 win over the Cornhuskers marked their first win in Lincoln since 1978. The 52 points scored was the most they've scored against the Cornhuskers since 1943. The Tigers scored on eight of their 10 possessions, missing a FG on one, while failing to score on another when their second-string offense turned the ball over on downs late in the fourth quarter. Daniel had a "typical" game, completing 18-of-23 passes for 253 yards with three TDs and no INTs. The Tigers moved to No. 3 in the latest AP poll with their win, ranking second in the nation in scoring (53.4 PPG) and third in total offense (568.8 YPG). Impressively, the Tigers have trailed in a game for just 13 seconds this entire season. Daniel fell only three completions shy of the NCAA record of 23 in a row shared by Tennessee's Tee Martin (1998) and Cal's Aaron Rodgers (2004) in the team's September 20 win over Buffalo, when he completed 20 consecutive passes against the Bulls. However, he did break the Big 12 record of 18 straight completions shared by Iowa State's Seneca Wallace (2001) and Oklahoma's Sam Bradford (2007) in that game. He became the all-time leading passer in Missouri school history (passing Brad Smith) in the team's 69-17 win over Nevada back on 9/13 and against Buffalo, his 439-yard game marked his 15th career 300-yard passing game and his fourth of 400-plus yards. The Big 12 once again dominates the latest AP poll, with four schools ranked in the top-seven and likewise, my Heisman poll this week features Big 12 players in the No. 1 through No. 5 slots. Daniel remains at the top of my Heisman poll. The Tigers have won 10 straight home games (18 of last 19) and will host No. 17 Oklahoma State (5-0) this Saturday in Columbia. His season stats are: 119-of 156 (76.3 percent) for 1,1665 yards with 15 TDs and one INT / QB rating of 196.4 ranks 5th / 15 carries for 74 yards (4.9 YPC) 0 TDs.


2) SAM BRADFORD (Oklahoma) Last Week: 2. The Sooners made short work of Baylor this week in Waco, winning 49-17. Oklahoma is now 18-0 all-time vs Baylor, including 10-0 under Stoops. Oklahoma claimed the No. 1 spot last week in the AP poll for a record 96th time and left little doubt about its ranking against the Bears. Manuel Johnson caught a 53-yard touchdown from Sam Bradford only 70 seconds into the game, as the Sooners took a 28-0 lead by the end of the first quarter. The Sooners have scored at least two TDs in every contest this year in the first quarter, outscoring opponents 103-3 after five games. Bradford was 23-of-31 for 372 yards with two TDs (one INT). Bradford had a terrific freshman year in 2007, throwing for 3,121 yards (69.5 percent completions) 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. However, he had just three 300-yard passing efforts in 14 games. Since opening the '08 season with a 57-2 win over Chattanooga (Bradford was "only" 17-of-22 for 183 yards with two TDs and no INTs), he has topped 300 yards in four straight games against Division I-A opponents (now has six career 300-yard games), passing for 1,482 yards (370.5 per game) with 16 TDs. Oklahoma strengthened its hold on No. 1 in the latest AP poll receiving 51 first-place votes, eight more than last week. The Sooners rank 4th in the nation in scoring (49.6 PPG) and fifth in total offense (540.0 YPG). Bradford's effort against Baylor allowed him to reclaim the top passer rating in the country (205.0) and a major showdown looms this coming Saturday in Dallas, when the No. 1 Sooners take on the No. 5 Longhorns and their red-hot QB, Colt McCoy. Oklahoma and Texas meet with both schools ranked in the AP top-five for the fourth time since 2001 (now that's a rivalry!). Stoops lost his first "Red River Rivalry" to Texas in 1999 but has since won six of the last eight. Bradford acquitted himself well in his first Oklahoma/Texas game last year, completing 21-of-32 passes for 244 yards with three TDs and no INTs in the Sooners' 28-21 win. A repeat performance will keep Oklahoma No. 1 in the rankings and Bradford at or near the top of my Heisman rankings. His season stats are: 106-of-146 (72.6 percent) for 1,665 yards with 18 TDs and three INTs / QB rating of 205.0 ranks him No. 1 / two rush TDs.


3) GRAHAM HARRELL (Texas Tech) Last Week: 5. Texas Tech moved to 4-0 and a No. 10 ranking in the AP poll with a 56-14 win over U Mass on 9/20. Tech was idle the following weekend but with all the upsets, moved up to No. 7 in the AP poll. The Red Raiders traveled to Manhattan, Kansas this past Saturday to take on the Wildcats, carrying their highest ranking in 32 years. Tech jumped out to an early 7-0 lead but the Wildcats stuffed the No. 7 Red Raiders on a fourth-and-inches play, then moved right in for the game-tying TD. However, the game didn't stay tied for long. Tied at 7-all, Graham Harrell engineered scoring drives on Tech's next seven possessions, leading the Red Raiders to a 58-28 victory. The senior QB completed 38-of-51 passes for 454 yards with six TD passes (tying a single-game career high) and no INTs. He also added a one-yard TD run. Graham has now topped 300 yards passing 26 times in his career, 17 times topping 400 yards. The six TD passes against the Wildcats gives him 107 in his career. He is one of seven players with more than 100 all-time and Colt Brennan's career mark of 131 is ceratinly well within his reach. Harrell has now thrown for 12,709 yards in his career, passing Kliff Kingsbury for the most yards in Texas Tech history. Kingsbury threw for 12,429 yards from 1999-02 and Harrell has already thrown for over 2,000 yards this season (see season stats below). The Red Raiders have now scored at least 30 points in 21 of their last 23 games, including nine in a row, a streak which which leads the nation. Tech is No. 2 in the nation in total offense (583.4 YPG) and No. 5 in scoring (48.2 PPG). Texas Tech gets a Homecoming meeting next Saturday with Nebraska, which was just pummeled by Missouri last Saturday in Lincoln. Harrell's season stats are: 158-of-237 (66.7 percent) for 2,027 yards with 18 TDs and three INTs / QB rating of 161.0 ranks 12th / two rush TDs.


4) COLT MCCOY (Texas) Last Week: 4. I moved Colt McCoy of Texas into the No. 9 spot a few weeks ago and keep I'll keep him in the No. 4 for the second straight week. McCoy took over for Vince Young in '06 as a red-shirt freshman and led Texas to a 10-3 season, throwing for 2,570 yards (68.2 percent completions) with 29 TDs (then a freshman record, broken last year by Bradford) and just seven INTs.The Longhorns went 10-3 again last year but McCoy's numbers 'fell off.' He did throw for more yards (3,303) but his completion percentage dipped slightly (65.1), while his TDs (22) went down and his INTs went way up (18). McCoy completed 23-of-30 passes for 261 yards at Boulder last Saturday, as Texas rolled to a 38-14 win over the Buffs, upping the Longhorns' record to 5-0 (Texas remained No. 5 in the latest AP poll). McCoy had two TD passes and two INTs (had thrown just one INT in four prior games), plus ran 11 times for 39 yards. He now has 67 career TD passes (he passed Major Applewhite as the school's all-time leader on September 20 vs Rice) and has now moved past Ricky Williams (76) into second on Texas' all-time list for TDs responsible for (passing, rushing, receiving) with 77. It won't be long before his passes Vince Young, who accounted for 81 career TDs at Texas. McCoy has led Texas in rushing in three of five games this year and his 317 yards rushing in '08, is still tops on the team. This coming Saturday's Red River Rivalry in Dallas will feature two 5-0 teams, the No. 5 Longhorns who average 47.2 PPG (6th-best) and the Sooners, who average 49.6 (4th-best). The winning team gets a leg up on the Big 12 South title and the winning QB keeps his ranking in my Heisman poll. McCoy's season stats are: 103-of-130 (79.2 percent) for 1,280 yards with 16 TDs and three INTs / QB rating of 197.9 is 4th in the nation / 45 carries for 317 yards (7.0 YPC) and four TDs.


5) JEREMY MACLIN (Missouri) Last Week: 6. 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 (Johnny Rodgers in '72, Tim Brown in '87 and Desmond Howard in '). Maclin is the only one who has remained and this week I'm moving him up to the No. 5 slot, making it a "clean-sweep" of the top-five for the Big 12. Maclin scored Missouri's first TD in the Tigers' 52-17 win Saturday night at Nebraska (a 58-yard TD grab from Daniel), finishing with five catches for 89 yards, three rushes for 15 yards and 56 yards on two KO returns. Maclin has topped 200 all-purpose yards in three of his five games this year (206 vs Illinois, 239 vs Nevada and 236 vs Buffalo) and his average of 186.8 YPG ranks him 5th in the nation in all-purpose yards in '08. I have two Missouri players in my top five, Daniel and Maclin. It's not unusual for two players from the same team to finish among the top-five in the final Heisman voting but the last time a QB and WR from the same school finished in the top-five was in 1964. That year, Notre Dame's QB John Huarte won the award, with WR Jack Snow finishing fifth in the final voting. Deja vu? As already mentioned in the Daniel write-up, the Tigers host OSU this Saturday. His season stats are: 31 catches for 480 yards (15.5 YPC) five TDs / 11 carries for 58 yards (5.3 YPC) one TD / 123 punt return yards and 273 KO return yards with one TD / all-purpose 186.8 YPG ranks him 5th in the nation.


6) JEVON RINGER (Michigan State) Last Week: 3. The Spartans opened the '08 season with a 38-31 loss at Cal, as Ringer was pretty much held in check (had 81 yards on 27 carries), although he did score two TDs. MSU has won five straight games (now ranked No. 23) since that season-opening loss, beating Eastern Michigan (42-10), Florida Atlantic (17-0), Notre Dame (23-7), Indiana (42-29) and Iowa (16-13). Ringer carried the ball 143 times in MSU's first four games, making him the busiest running back through four games since Iowa State's Troy Davis had six more carries in 1996 (according to STATS). Ringer gained just 91 yards in 25 carries in the Spartans' three-point win over the Hawkeyes and failed to score a TD for the first time this season. He had topped 100 yards in each of his previous four games (averaged 204.0 YPG in those four games), which included back-to-back 200-yard games vs FAU (282) and Notre Dame (201). Ringer owns 16 career 100-yard games (three have been of more than 200 yards) and despite his 91-yard, no TD effort, remains No.2 in the nation in rushing with an average of 164.7 per game and falls to No.2 in all-purpose yards (he's got 60 receiving yards plus 224 yards on KO returns) with 212.0 per game. His 12 TDs ties for the most in the nation and his average of 12.0 PPG through six games leaves him tied for third in scoring. Michigan State puts its five-game winning streak on the line this coming Saturday, when the Spartans visit Evanston, Illinois to take on surprising 5-0 Northwestern. Ringer's season stats are: 187 carries for 897 yards (4.8 YPC) 12 TDs / seven catches 60 yards (8.6 YPC) 0 TDs / 224 KOR yards.


7) TIM TEBOW (Florida) Last Week: 7. I'm keeping Tebow at the No. 7 spot this week but it's starting to get old. Tebow and the Gators rebounded from their shocking 31-30 home loss to Mississippi on September 27 with a 38-7 win at Arkansas. Florida scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to break open a close game late. In that final quarter, red-shirt freshman Chris Rainey broke a 75-yard run and true freshman Jeff Demps added a 48-yard run, his second TD of the game. Both Rainey and Demps had 103 yards on the ground, the first time since 1997 the Gators have had two 100-yard rushers in same game. Tebow had 32 yards rushing on 12 carries but 216 yards passing (17-of-26) and two TDs. However, he threw a third quarter interception (his first of the year), which ended a school-record streak of 203 attempts without one. 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. He 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). However, Tebow hasn't come close to matching his numbers from last year (see his season stats below) and I'm only including him in my top-10 because he's the 'defending champ.' I read this on espn.com after the game with Ole Miss. It sure gave me pause, as it should all Heisman voters this year. The Gators are now 0-5 when trailing at any point in the second half of a game with Tim Tebow as the quarterback. That sound like a Heisman-winner to you? The 11th-ranked Gators host No. 4 LSU this coming Saturday. Is Tebow finally ready for his first "big game" of '08? His season stats are: 79-of-128 (61.7 percent) for 1,025 yards with eight TDs and one INT / QB rating of 148.0 ranks 24th / 61 carries for 157 yards (2.6 YPC) 2 TDs.


8) MARK SANCHEZ (USC) Last Week: 10. I didn't list USC's Mark Sanchez among my preseason top-10 choices but moved him 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 on 9/13 faced then-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. USC's dominating win solidified the team's No. 1 ranking and made the Trojans the clear favorite to be one of the two teams in this year's BCS title game. However, USC's chances for a BCS title-game appearance took a major blow on September 25 when the Trojans lost 27-21 at Oregon State. The Beavers totally dominated the Trojans in the first half (led 21-0) and USC's second-half comeback fell short. Sanchez threw TD passes of 26 and 29 yards in the third quarter but was intercepted on the 30-yard line with less than three minutes to play. It was returned 28 yards to set up Oregon State on the USC two-yard line, as OSU took a 27-14 lead. Sanchez added a third TD pass with 1:19 left but time ran out on the Trojans. Sanchez finished 18-of-29 for 227 yards with three TDs and one INT. It was hardly his fault that the Trojans lost (offensive and defensive lines were dominated!) but the defeat dealt his long-shot Heisman hopes a severe blow and the Trojans fell to No. 9 in the AP poll. USC looked to bounce back this past Saturday, as it hosted then-No. 23 Oregon. USC quickly fell behind 10-3 but scored the game's final 41 points for a 44-10 win. The Trojans held Oregon to 69 rushing yards on 36 carries (1.6 YPC) and piled up 597 yards of total offense (most this season). Sanchez completed 19-of-28 passes for 332 yards (his second career 300-yard game) with three TDs and no INTs. The six-time defending Pac-10 champion Trojans haven't lost two games in a row since early in Carroll's first season in 2001. They also avenged last year's 24-17 loss in Eugene as did Sanchez, who started that game in place of an injured John David Booty and threw two key fourth-quarter interceptions. USC (now ranked No. 8), which has won 40 of its last 41 home games, hosts Arizona State this coming Saturday. His season stats are: 80-of-120 (66.7 percent) for 1,069 yards with 13 TDs and three INTs / QB rating of 172.2 ranks 7th.


9) MAX HALL (BYU) Last Week: 9. Max Hall red-shirted his freshman year ('04) at Arizona State and then transferred to BYU but left for a mission before joining the football team. When he took over as BYU's starting QB at the beginning of '07, he hadn't played a competitive game in four years. All he did last year 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 15 straight wins, including that highly controversial 28-27 win at Washington on September 6 (can you say "excessive celebration?"). However, since that game, Hall has led BYU to three more wins. First up was consecutive shutout wins, beating UCLA 59-0 in Provo on September 13 (UCLA's worst loss since 1929) and Wyoming 44-0 on September 20 (again in Provo). It marked the school's first consecutive shutouts since 1985 and incredibly, BYU won those two games by the exact same scores, 59-0 over Wyoming and then 44-0 over Utah State. You can't make this stuff up! Hall completed 27-of-35 passes for 271 yards and tied a school record with seven TD passes (one INT) against UCLA and against Wyoming, Hall completed 16-of-27 passes for 189 yards (three TDs and no INTs). It marked just the second time in 17 career starts that Hall's been held under 200 yards passing in a game. This past Friday, BYU won 34-14 at Utah State. The Cougars converted three turnovers into 17 early points, while taking a 24-0 first-quarter lead. Hall completed 23-of-37 passes for 303 yards (he now owns eight career 300-yard games) and two touchdowns but was intercepted twice. Hall has thrown a TD pass in 17 of his 18 career games, including seven straight. Despite the win, BYU fell from No. 9 to No. 8 in the latest AP poll. The Cougars have a Homecoming game this Saturday with New Mexico and it should be noted that Cougars have won 15 straight home games, outscoring opponents 144-16 in three home games this year. Hall's season stats are: 130-of-181 (71.8 percent) for 1,587 yards with 17 TDs and four INTs / QB rating of 172.0 ranks 8th / one rush TD.


10) KNOWSHON MORENO (Georgia) Last Week: 8. Georgia was off last weekend and I dropped Moreno from No. 8 to No. 10 in my Heisman poll. The Bulldogs opened the season No. 1 in the AP preseason poll for the first time in school history. Georgia had designs on winning the school's second national title (1980) and Moreno was hopeful of capturing the school's third Heisman (Sinkwich won in '42 and Herschel in '82). 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 on 9/13 in Columbia against the Gamecocks and the team's 14-7 win resulted in the Bulldogs falling to No. 3 in the following AP poll. Moreno finished with just 79 yards on 20 carries against South Carolina. Georgia made its first regular-season trip to the West Coast since 1960 on September 20, playing ASU in Tempe. Moreno rushed for 149 yards and two TDs on 23 carries, marking his eighth career 100-yard game and giving him nine TDs on the season. Georgia head coach Mark Richt improved to 33-2 vs non-conference opponents, with both losses coming in bowl games. The 27-10 win was Georgia's 11th straight win, its longest streak since 1982. The Bulldogs' win over ASU was a dominating one but I mentioned after that game that it shouldn't go unmentioned that the loss dropped ASU to 3-26 against top-25 opponents since 2000. Moreno turned into a star in the first five games of Georgia's season-ending seven-game winning run at the end of '07. 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. Georgia hosted Alabama on September 27 and found itself down 31-0 at the half, as the Tide scored on their first five possessions. Alabama won 'only' 41-30 (ending Georgia's 11-game winning streak), as the Bulldogs managed a couple of cosmetic TDs in the game's final minutes. Moreno was a total non-factor, gaining 34 yards on nine carries (one TD) and catching three passes for 14 yards. Georgia has now lost five of its last six home games against top-10 opponents, which is not characteristic of a championship team. Georgia's BCS title hopes took a huge hit with that loss (fell to No. 11 in the AP poll) but the Bulldogs moved back in the top-10 this past weekend (at No. 9), despite being idle. Like Tebow, I'm questioning whether Moreno deserves a top-10 ranking. Georgia returns to action this Saturday with a home game against Tennessee. The Bulldogs lost 35-14 in Knoxville to the Vols last year, with Moreno being held to just 30 yards in 13 carries (2.3 per). His season stats are: 78 carries for 489 yards (6.3 YPC) with 10 TDs / 10 catches for 110 yards (11.0 YPC) with 0 TDs.

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