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Heisman Top 10

   by Larry Ness - 10/20/2008

1) COLT MCCOY (Texas) Last Week: 3. Just two weeks ago, the Longhorns were No. 5 in the AP poll but consecutive wins over Oklahoma 45-35 and Missouri 56-31 have seen the Longhorns become the nation's unquestioned No. 1 team (for now). Texas jumped from No. 5 to No. 1 after its win over Oklahoma and its win this past Saturday night over Missouri was good enough to make them a unanimous choice in the latest AP poll, as well as opening No. 1 in the season's first BCS standings. The Longhorns dominated the BCS standings as well, ranking No. 1 in both human polls (Harris and coaches') plus held the number-one ranking among the computer ratings. Along the way, Texas QB Colt McCoy has played himself into the role of Heisman-favorite in many circles, including my Heisman top-10. McCoy made "all the big plays" during the second-half of the Longhorns' win over Oklahoma and last Saturday vs Missouri, he dominated from start to finish. Texas jumped to a 35-0 lead (led 35-3 at the half) and cruised to a 56-31 victory. McCoy passed for a 337 yards and two touchdowns, ran for two more and set a school record with 17 straight completions, finishing 29-of-32 for the game. With his four touchdowns (two passing and two rushing), McCoy passed Vince Young for first place on Texas' all-time list for TDs responsible for (passing, rushing, receiving) with 82 (Young has 81 and former Heisman-winner Ricky Williams had 76). McCoy took over for Vince Young in '06 as a redshirt 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 has now completed 85.1 percent (57-67) of his passes for 614 yards with three TDs (0 INTS) plus two rushing TDs in wins over then-No. 1 Oklahoma and then-No.11 Missouri the last two weeks. His 337-yard passing effort was his second 300-yard game of the season and the sixth of his career. His total of 371 yards rushing still leads the team but after running for 278 yards in his first four games, McCoy has gained just 93 yards (2.6 YPC) over Texas' last three games, as RB Ogbonnaya has gained 263 yards (7.1 YPC) during that same time frame. Up next for Texas is No. 7 Oklahoma State (No. 6 in the BCS) in Austin. Texas is 13-1 all-time when hosting OSU with the Cowboys' lone win coming in 1944. This has been some game in three of the last four years, as Texas rallied to win from a 35-7 deficit in 2004 (won 56-35), 28-9 in 2005 (won 47-28) and 35-14 in 2007 (won 38-35). McCoy's season stats are: 160-of-197 (81.2 percent) for 1,894 yards with 19 TDs and three INTs / QB rating of 190.8 is 4th in the nation / 70 carries for 371 yards (5.3 YPC) and six TDs

2) SAM BRADFORD (Oklahoma) Last Week: 1. Oklahoma and Texas combined for 80 points two weeks ago in Dallas, breaking the record for most points in the 103 games of this rivalry. 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 lost 45-35 but it was hard to argue with Bradford's performance and I put him at No. 1 in my poll last week. Oklahoma extended the nation's longest active home winning streak to 22 straight with a 45-31 win over No. 16 Kansas this past Saturday. It marked the team's 42nd win in its last 43 home games and makes them 58-2 at home under Bob Stoops, having not lost a conference home game since Nov 24, 2001 vs Oklahoma State. If you are looking for some historical perspective, Oklahoma's current 22-game home winning streak is only topped in school history by a 25-game streak which was part of Oklahoma's NCAA-record 47-game win streak under Bud Wilkinson in the 1950s. Returning to the present, Bradford passed for an Oklahoma-record 468 yards (completed 36-of-53 passes with no INTs) and had three TD passes, despite losing top receiver Manuel Johnson to a first-quarter arm injury (WR Juaquin Iglesias caught 12 passes for 191 yards, both set school records). Bradford has now topped 300 yards in six straight games against Division I-A opponents (has eight career 300-yard games / two of which are 400-plus), passing for 2,337 yards (389.5 per game) with 24 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 199.2 currently ranks No. 2. Oklahoma travels to Manhattan this Saturday to take on Kansas State. His season stats are: 170-of-238 (71.4 percent) for 2,520 yards with 26 TDs and five INTs / QB rating of 192.2 ranks him No. 2 / two rush TDs.

3) GRAHAM HARRELL (Texas Tech) Last Week: 4. The Big 12 owns four of the top-eight teams in both the current AP poll as well as the first BCS standings and Tech QB Graham Harrell makes it a three-QB sweep of my top three spots in my current Heisman poll. The Red Raiders won 43-25 this past Saturday at College Station, giving them four straight wins over the Aggies for the first time since 1970-'73. Tech improved to 7-0 for the third time in school history and the first time since 1976, as the Red Raiders rank No. 8 in the current AP poll and 8th in the year's first BCS standings, as well. With BYU's loss at TCU on Thursday, Tech's nine straight wins joins Penn State and Utah for the longest active winning streak in the nation. The Red Raiders have now scored at least 30 points in 23 of their last 25 games, including 11 in a row, a streak which leads the nation. Now enough about the Red Raiders as a team and more about their spectacular QB. The Red Raiders trailed at the half for the first time this season against Texas A&M on Saturday (23-20), after committing two turnovers and eight penalties, while giving up 274 yards. However, Tech scored on four of six possessions after halftime and held A&M to 32 yards and five FDs (A&M's lone second-half score came on a 97-yard return of a blocked extra-point try). Harrell had a TD pass and two TDs runs (both one-yard runs) in the second half, finishing 44-of-56 for 450 yards with three TDs and two INTs (plus those two rush TDs) for the game. It marked Graham's 27th game of 300 yards passing and the 18th time he has topped 400 yards. The three TD passes against A&M gives Harrell 112 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. The Red Raiders travel to Lawrence, Kansas on Saturday to take on No. 19 Kansas. Tech has won nine of the last 10 meetings with the Jayhawks, including five straight in Lawrence but the schools didn't meet last year when Kansas went 12-1. Harrell's season stats are: 222-of-318 (69.8 percent) for 2,761 yards with 23 TDs and five INTs / QB rating of 163.5 ranks 8th / five rush TDs.

4) TIM TEBOW (Florida) Last Week: 6. Things change quickly in the world of sports but as of now, I believe this year's Heisman race is down to McCoy, Bradford and Harrell. I'll place Tebow (the defending champ) in the 'four-hole,' as at least he's got a pedigree. Tebow vowed to play better against LSU on October 11 in "The Swamp," following the performance he had in his previous 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. Tebow finished 14-of-21 for 210 yards. He also ran 12 times for 22 yards. The Gators were off last week and while they stayed No. 5 in the current AP poll, they opened a disappointing No. 10 in the season's first BCS standings. Florida hosts Kentucky this Saturday but for Tebow to crack the "top-three," he'll need to greatly improve on his numbers, as none of them match up comparably with last year. Still, he is a formidable Heisman candidate. 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 / 73 carries for 179 yards (2.5 YPC) 3 TDs.

5) KNOWSHON MORENO (Georgia) Last Week: 9. A day after the school launched a web site to tout him as a Heisman Trophy candidate, the Ohio State defense held Michigan's State's Javon Ringer to a season-low 67 yards (16 attempts) and kept him out of the end zone for just the second time this year, as the Buckeyes routed the Spartans 45-7. I had Ringer at No. 5 in last week's poll, the top RB in my top-10. I've already stated that at the present time I believe the Heisman is a three-man race (McCoy, Bradford and Harrell) but I may as well have one RB in my top-five. That being said, why not Georgia's Knowshon Moreno? Georgia continued its dominance of Vanderbilt with a 24-14 win this past Saturday, improving to 22-3-1 in its past 26 meetings with the Commodores. Moreno led Georgia with 172 yards rushing on 23 carries. The 172 yards was a season-high for Moreno and was his fourth 100-yard performance of the season, which included an 11-yard TD run. It was third-best effort of his career and his 10th all-time 100-yard game. Georgia is ranked No. 9 in the current AP poll and 7th in the first BCS standings. The Bulldogs play at LSU this Saturday and then meet Florida in Jacksonville on November 1, with the winner likely playing in the SEC championship game. Moreno's season stats are: 128 carries for 762 yards (6.0 YPC) with 11 TDs / 12 catches for 134 yards (11.2 YPC) with 0 TDs.

6) CHASE DANIEL (Missouri) Last Week: 2. Missouri's national championship hopes took a huge tumble two weeks ago 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. While Daniel put up huge passing numbers against the Cowboys, going 39-of-52 for 390 yards (16th career 300-yard game) and a TD, he threw three second-half interceptions which were critical. This past Saturday, Daniel and Missouri had a chance at redemption with a game in Austin vs No. 1 Texas. History was against Missouri, as the Tigers hadn't won in Austin since 1896. History and the Longhorns "won the day," as Texas jumped out to a 35-0 lead (won 56-31) and while McCoy's Heisman candidacy reached new heights, Daniel's Heisman hopes are all but over (he finished fourth in the voting last year). He completed 31-of-41 passes for 318 yards (his 17th career 300-yard game) with two TDs and one INT but his entire performance was an afterthought. Missouri gets a Homecoming game this Saturday with Colorado but after the last two weeks, Daniel finds himself "way behind" fellow Big 12 QBs McCoy, Bradford and Harrell. His season stats are: 189-of-249 (75.9 percent) for 2,373 yards with 18 TDs and five INTs / QB rating of 175.8 ranks 5th / 26 carries for 112 yards (4.3 YPC) 1 TD.

7) JEVON RINGER (Michigan State) Last Week: 5. 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 then won six straight, giving them their longest win streak since 1999. MSU ended Northwestern's perfect season a week ago Saturday, knocking off the then-5-0 Wildcats 37-20 in Evanston. The win moved the Spartans to No. 20 in the AP poll and Ringer was the main reason, going over the 1,000-yard mark for the season and becoming the first Spartan with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons since TJ Duckett did it in 2000-01. Michigan's State's home game with Ohio State this past Saturday was likely the school's biggest game this decade, as the Spartans last won 10 games in 1999 (went 10-2 after beating Florida in the Citrus Bowl). Ringer entered the game with 17 career 100-yard games (three have been more than 200 yards), 3,782 career rushing yards (third-most in school history) and was 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 with 201.7 per game. His 14 TDs were the most in the nation and his average of 12.0 PPG through seven games left him tied for third in scoring. So what happened? Michigan State was handed its most lopsided loss at home since Nick Saban's debut in 1995, when the Spartans lost by 40 to Nebraska. Ohio State jumped out to a 28-0 lead and scored a season-high in points in a 45-7 rout. As for Ringer, he was held to season lows with 67 yards rushing and 16 attempts, just one day after the school launched a web site to tout him as a Heisman Trophy candidate (anyone believe in karma?). Ringer remains the nation's second-leading rusher (147.4 YPG), dropped to third in all-purpose yards (187.3 YPG) and his 14 TDs are still tied for the most in the nation but his scoring average of 10.5 PPG in now ranked 7th. I'm not sure his web site will be getting too many hits this week. Michigan State travels to Ann Arbor this Saturday and if the Spartans lose to the Wolverines, Ringer will have to shut down his web site. Ringer's season stats are: 263 carries for 1,179 yards (4.5 YPC) 14 TDs / 15 catches for 95 yards (6.3 YPC) 0 TDs / 224 KOR yards.

8) MARK SANCHEZ (USC) Last Week: NR. 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. I've had him in and out of my top-10 throughout the season and he's back in this week, after USC beat Washington State 69-0 this past Saturday, its largest shutout victory since a 69-0 win over Montana in 1931. Sanchez completed 15-of-20 passes for 253 yards and tied the school record of five TD passes (shared with Rodney Peete, Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart with 4:51 still remaining in the second quarter! USC lost at Corvallis 27-21 on September 25 but the Trojans have won their last three games by a combined 141-10 since that loss cost them their No. 1 ranking. They have scored 117 unanswered points and have recorded consecutive shutouts for the first time since 1971. USC moved to No. 6 in the latest AP poll and opened No. 5 in the first BCS standings. Don't count the Trojans out of the BCS title-game 'picture' just yet. USC travels to Tucson this Saturday to play Arizona. Sanchez made his first career start vs the Wildcats last year, leading the Trojans to a 20-13 win but hardly put up impressive numbers (19-of-31 for 130 yards with one TD and two INTs). Sanchez will need another excellent performance to stay in my top-10 next week. His season stats are: 108-of-166 (65.1 percent) for 1,501 yards with 19 TDs and six INTs / QB rating of 171.6 ranks 7th / one rush TD.

9) DARYLL CLARK (Penn State) Last Week: NR. Why not put Penn State's starting QB on this list? He's been a dramatic improvement over Anthony Morelli, who led the Nittany Lions to consecutive 9-4 seasons in '06 and '07. Clark had just 36 attempts the last two years (backing up Morelli) but has completed 63.3 percent this year (11 TDs / 2 INTs), while also running for eight scores. He's got Penn State 8-0 and ranked third in both the current AP poll and in the first BCS standings. Penn State ended a nine-game losing streak to Michigan on Saturday, as Clark played a "typical" game. The Nittany Lions withstood some early big plays by Michigan, as the Wolverines took a 17-7 lead. PSU cut the lead to 17-14 at the half and then outscored Michigan 32-0 in the second half for a 46-17 win. Clark completed 18-of-31 passes for 171 yards (one TD / 0 INTs) plus added two rushing TDs on nine carries for 45 yards. This coming Saturday's game at Columbus will be huge for the Nittany Lions. PSU hasn't beaten a ranked team on the road since 2002 and the 10th-ranked Buckeyes (No. 9 in the BCS standings) could be the only thing in the Nittany Lions' way of a perfect regular season. Now here's the rub. PSU hasn't won in Columbus since 1978, going 0-7 since that time with an average loss of 21 PPG. Clark's season stats are: 114-of-180 (63.3 percent) for 1,531 yards with 11 TDs and two INTs / QB rating of 152.7 ranks 18th / 47 carries for 190 yards (4.0 YPC) / 8 TDs.

10) DAVID JOHNSON (Tulsa) Last Week: NR. What a story Tulsa is in 2008, led by an unknown senior QB in David Johnson. The Golden Hurricane have been to three straight bowl games from 2005-07 (won two of them) but Johnson was a non-contributor, sitting behind the talented Paul Smith (47 TD passes and 5,065 passing yards in '07). Johnson opened the '08 season having just 63 career pass attempts (41 completions) for 472 yards with two TDs and one INT. So what's he done in helping Tulsa start 7-0? Not much at all, if you want to ignore his almost 2,400 passing yards and 31 TDs. Tulsa and UTEP played to a 28-28 tie this past Saturday night but that was only after the first quarter! That's right! However, the Golden Hurricane outscored the Miners 49-7 the rest of the way, winning 77-35. Tulsa amassed 791 total yards (including 321 rushing) but Johnson completed 21-of-27 passes for 434 yards with five TDs, which covered 97, 51, 34, 22 and 31 yards. The win moved Tulsa to No. 22 in the latest AP poll, the school's first top-25 ranking since 1991. That 1991 team finished 10-2, including a 28-17 Freedom Bowl win over San Diego State (remember Marshall Faulk?) and finished with a final AP ranking of 21. Johnson's full stats are listed below but his QB rating of 212.8 leads the nation, with Tulsa averaging 56.6 PPG (Texas is No. 2 at 48.1) and 624.7 YPG (Texas Tech is No. 2 almost 70 YPG behind). Tulsa will host Central Florida this coming Sunday, the school which beat them twice last year, first in the regular season (44-23) and then in the C-USA championship game (44-25). However, both of those games were played in Orlando. Johnson's season stats are: 138-of-200 (69.0 percent) for 2,397 yards with 31 TDs and eight INTs / QB rating of 212.8 ranks No. 1 / one rush TD.

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