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Heisman Top 10

   by Larry Ness - 10/13/2008

1) SAM BRADFORD (Oklahoma) Last Week: 2. Oklahoma and Texas combined for 80 points, breaking the record for most points in the 103 games of this rivalry. The bad news for the Sooners however, was that they scored 35 points, while the Longhorns were the team which scored 45. It's marked the first time Oklahoma has lost a regular-season game under Bob Stoops when scoring at least 35 points. The Sooners led most of the way, despite being held to only 48 yards rushing on 26 carries. With the lack of any real running game, the pressure was all on Bradford. He didn't disappoint, completing 28-of-39 passes for 387 yards with five TDs and two INTs. His five passing TDs tied a school record (also matched a career high) and were the most by an Oklahoma QB in the history of its rivalry with Texas. The Sooners led by as many as 11 points twice in the first half but fell behind 30-28 in the late third quarter. It was the first time Oklahoma had been behind all year and Bradford immediately threw a 14-yard TD pass to Johnson to regain the lead. However, it was all Texas after that. Bradford did throw two interceptions in the game, a meaningless one on the final play and another late in the second quarter that led to a Texas FG. However, all in all, it's hard to argue with his performance (the same can't be said about Oklahoma's running game or its defense). Bradford has now topped 300 yards in five straight games against Division I-A opponents (now has seven career 300-yard games), passing for 1,869 yards (373.8 per game) with 21 TDs He 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. His passer rating of 201.2 currently ranks No. 2 His five TD passes against Texas allowed him to break the major-college record for TDs as a freshman and sophomore. He's up to 59 (Rex Grossman had the previous record with 55) and the amazing thing is that the Sooners have a minimum of seven games remaining (including a bowl) and would have eight game left if they were to play in the Big 12 championship game. The Sooners have a Homecoming game up next Saturday with Kansas. The Sooners own the nation's longest active winning streak with 21st consecutive wins (13-6-1 ATS). Oklahoma has won 41 of its last 42 in Norman and is 57-2 at home under Bob Stoops. It was a topsey-turvey weekend at the top of the polls and while the Sooners lost, I'll give the top spot in my Heisman poll (a shaky vote, I admit) to Bradford. His season stats are: 134-of-185 (72.4 percent) for 2,052 yards with 23 TDs and five INTs / QB rating of 201.2 ranks him No. 2 / two rush TDs.

2) 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 on October 4, 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. However, Missouri's national championship hopes took a huge tumble this past Saturday night at home, when the Tigers lost 28-23 to Oklahoma State. Missouri had won 10 in a row and 18 of its last 19 home games and took the nation's No. 3 ranking into the game. The Tigers entered with a scoring average of 53.4 PPG (lowest output was 42) and QB Chase Daniel had 15 TD passes and just one interception. The Tigers had trailed in a game for just 13 seconds this entire season (in their season-opener with Illinois) but the Cowboys took the lead three times during this one, going ahead of the Tigers for good when they took a 21-17 lead late in the third quarter. Daniel was fourth in the Heisman voting last season and I've had him at No. 1 in my poll for the last three weeks. He put up huge passing numbers against the Cowboys, going 39-of-52 for 390 yards (16th career 300-yard game) and a TD but he threw three second-half interceptions which were critical. It was Oklahoma State QB Zac Robinson, not Daniel, who played like a Heisman Trophy contender. Robinson was 19-of-28 for 215 yards with two TDs, as he led the Cowboys to just their second win over a top-10 opponent in their last 36 tries. Daniel's Heisman candidacy took a big hit but in the 'loaded' Big 12, another big game (and opportunity) is just around the corner. The Tigers' loss dropped them to No. 11 in the latest AP poll but this Saturday, they travel to Austin to take on the Longhorns, the nation's new No. 1 team. The bad news is that the Tigers last beat the Longhorns in Austin back in '96. That's 1896! Daniel's season stats are: 158-of 208 (76.0 percent) for 2,055 yards with 16 TDs and four INTs / QB rating of 180.5 ranks 5th / 22 carries for 120 yards (5.5 YPC) 0 TDs.

3) COLT MCCOY (Texas) Last Week: 4. The Longhorns' 45-35 win over Oklahoma allowed Texas to jump from No. 5 to No. 1 in the latest AP poll. It marks the biggest jump since Miami-Florida went from No. 6 to No. 1 by beating then-No. 1 Florida State 31-0 in its season-opening game of 1988. Texas trailed Oklahoma most of the game (fell behind by as many as 11 points twice in the first half) but went ahead for good with 7:37 left in the game. McCoy may not have outplayed his counterpart for Oklahoma (Bradford) but his game-management and leadership were terrific. He finished 28-of-35 for 277 yards with a touchdown and no turnovers. He was sacked four times but did turn 14 attempts into 31 yards (he still leads Texas in rushing yards on the season). It was the kind of performance that should be remembered by Heisman voters. 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). Texas is now No. 1 after beating Oklahoma but the Longhorns must still survive their upcoming schedule. They'll play host to No. 11 Missouri on Saturday, then to current No. 8 Oklahoma State, followed by a road game against current No. 7 Texas Tech. If the Longhorns can win those three, McCoy will likely be the main reason and would just as likely be mine and almost everyone's Heisman favorite. McCoy's season stats are: 131-of-165 (79.4 percent) for 1,557 yards with 17 TDs and three INTs / QB rating of 189.4 is 4th in the nation / 59 carries for 348 yards (5.9 YPC) and four TDs.

4) GRAHAM HARRELL (Texas Tech) Last Week: 3. The Red Raiders traveled to Manhattan, Kansas on October 4 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. It was Graham's 26th game of 300 yards passing and the 17th time he had topped 400 yards. Tech had a tougher than expected time with Nebraska this past Saturday, edging the Cornhuskers 37-31 in OT. Harrell threw for two TDs and ran for another, while completing 20-of-25 for 284 yards without an interception. It marked his lowest total of passing yards in a game since 2006, when he threw for 250 yards in a 34-24 loss at Oklahoma. Tech was almost a three-TD favorite, so the win was hardly impressive but I'm not going to be too hard on Harrell. Tech is 6-0 for the first time since 2005 and for just the fifth time in school history (1998, 1976, 1938). The Red Raiders have now scored at least 30 points in 22 of their last 24 games, including 10 in a row, a streak which leads the nation. They have now won 30 of their last 35 home games and extended their overall win streak to eight games, while remaining No. 7 in the latest AP poll. The two TD passes against the Wildcats gives Harrell 109 in his career. He is one of seven players with more than 100 all-time and Colt Brennan's career mark of 131 is certainly within his reach. Harrell has now thrown for 12,993 yards in his career and passed Kliff Kingsbury (12,429 yards from 1999-02) for the most passing yards in Texas Tech history a week ago. Tech travels to A&M this coming Saturday to face the Aggies. Harrell's had little trouble with the A&M defense the last two seasons, completing 62-of-82 passes for 817 yards with seven TDs and no INTs. Harrell's season stats are: 178-of-262 (667.9 percent) for 2,311 yards with 20 TDs and three INTs / QB rating of 164.9 ranks 8th / three rush TDs.

5) JEVON RINGER (Michigan State) Last Week: 6. 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. However, the Spartans have won six straight since that game, giving them their longest win streak since 1999. MSU ended Northwestern's perfect season this past Saturday, knocking off the Wildcats, who had opened 5-0, 37-20 in Evanston. Michigan State scored 17 straight points in the first quarter with the help of a pair of Northwestern turnovers and never looked back. The Spartans are now ranked No. 20 in the latest AP poll and Ringer is the main reason. He ran for 124 yards (35 attempts) and two touchdowns. He went over the 1,000-yard mark for the season, becoming the first Spartan with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons since TJ Duckett did it in 2000-01. He also has 3,782 career rushing yards, which is now third-most in school history. Ringer owns 17 career 100-yard games (three have been more than 200 yards) and remains No.2 in the nation in rushing with an average of 158.9 per game, as well as being No.2 in all-purpose yards (he's got 76 receiving yards plus 224 yards on KO returns) with 201.7 per game. His 14 TDs are the most in the nation and his average of 12.0 PPG through seven games leaves him tied for third in scoring. MSU is off to a 3-0 start in the Big 10 (its best since 2003) but will face its toughest test of the season to-date, as the Buckeyes visit East Lansing this Saturday. The Spartans have lost six straight in this series and are a woeful 1-5 at home vs Ohio State (now ranked No. 12) since 1992. Ringer's season stats are: 247 carries for 1,112 yards (4.5 YPC) 14 TDs / nine catches 76 yards (8.4 YPC) 0 TDs / 224 KOR yards.

6) TIM TEBOW (Florida) Last Week: 7. Tebow, the 'defending champ,' vowed to play better following his last home game, a 31-30 loss to Mississippi on September 27. He backed up that promise with his best game of the season, throwing two TD passes to Percy Harvin and running for a score, as Florida dominated defending national champion LSU 51-21 in "The Swamp." Tebow finished 14-of-21 for 210 yards. He also ran 12 times for 22 yards. None of his numbers match up comparably with last year but he is a formidable Heisman candidate. Florida is off this coming week and next plays its Homecoming game with Kentucky on October 25. Tebow's season stats are: 93-of-149 (62.4 percent) for 1,235 yards with 10 TDs and one INT / QB rating of 152.8 ranks 17th / 73 carries for 179 yards (2.5 YPC) 3 TDs.

7) JEREMY MACLIN (Missouri) Last Week: 5. Maclin caught eight passes for 120 yards (sixth 100-yard game of his career) but did not score in Missouri's 28-23 loss at home to Oklahoma State. I'll keep maclin in my top-10 this week but he's in danger of falling out. A huge game at Austin this coming Saturday against the No. 1 Longhorns is what Maclin, Daniel and the Tigers need. Let's see? His season stats are: 39 catches for 600 yards (15.4 YPC) five TDs / 13 carries for 64 yards (4.9 YPC) one TD / 128 punt return yards and 365 KO return yards with one TD / all-purpose 192.8 YPG ranks him 3rd in the nation.

8) MAX HALL (BYU) Last Week: 9. The Cougars survived their lowest-scoring game of the season this past Saturday, beating New Mexico 21-3 to extend the nation's longest winning streak to 16 straight. BYU has also won 16 straight at home (4-0 this year, outscoring opponents 165-20) and 18 straight MWC games. Hall completed 22-of-34 passes for 265 yards with three TDs and no INTs. BYU is ranked No. 9 in the latest AP poll and its bitter in-state rival Utah is ranked 14th. No one would be the least surprised if the Cougars' November 22 game at Salt Lake City with the Utes will be a meeting of unbeatens, with the winner getting a BCS bowl bid. Hall's season stats are: 152-of-215 (70.7 percent) for 1,845 yards with 20 TDs and four INTs / QB rating of 169.8 ranks 7th / one rush TD.

9) KNOWSHON MORENO (Georgia) Last Week: 10. After getting outscored 86-37 the last two years against Tennessee, Georgia got its revenge with a 26-14 win this past Saturday. The score is not indicative of Georgia's domination, as Tennessee was held to 209 yards, while the Bulldogs had 458 (Georgia led 29-10 in FDs). Georgia outrushed Tennessee 148-1, as Moreno ran for 101 yards in 27 carries. It marks his ninth career 100-yard game. QB Matthew Stafford passed for a career-best 310 yards and Georgia kept its hopes alive for winning the SEC East. The Bulldogs remain No. 10 in the latest AP poll and will host No. 22 Vandy this coming Saturday, which is coming off its first loss of '08. Georgia beat Vandy 20-17 last year in Nashville\, as Moreno ran fir 157 yards in his first career start. He may need a similar effort this week to stay in my top 10. His season stats are: 105 carries for 590 yards (5.6 YPC) with 10 TDs / 11 catches for 124 yards (11.3 YPC) with 0 TDs.

10) TODD REESING (Kansas) Last Week: NR. I've had Reesing in my top-10 earlier this year and he replaces USC's Mark Sanchez this week. The Jayhawks had their hands full this past Saturday with Colorado, leading only 16-14 after Cody Hawkins' one-yard touchdown run at the end of the third period. However, Reesing quickly engineered two scoring drives to put away Kansas' 20th win in 23 games and their 13th in a row at home. Reesing completed 27-of-34 passes for 256 yards with one TD and no INTs. He has topped the 250-yard mark in each game this season, topping the 300-yard mark four times (has nine 300-yard games in his career). Reesing is now 17-2 as a starting QB at Kansas since taking over at the beginning of the 2007 season. That's pretty good when one considers that the Jayhawks entered last season with a 32-50 mark since 2000. Kansas has a tough assignment this coming Saturday, as they visit Norman to face an Oklahoma team which was just beaten by Texas and lost its No. 1 ranking (fell to No. 4). The Sooners own the nation's longest active home winning streak (21) and the Jayhawks are just 3-17 in Norman since 1963. His season stats are: 171-of-239 (71.6 percent) for 1,980 yards with 15 TDs and three INTs / QB rating of 159.3 ranks 12th / 53 carries for 101 yards (1.9 YPC) two rush TDs.

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