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Heisman Top 10

   by Larry Ness - 10/27/2008

1) COLT MCCOY (Texas) Last Week: 1. The top-five teams in the nation did not change in either the AP poll or the latest BCS standings and following suit, I've made no changes to the top-five players in my Heisman top-10 this week. The Longhorns held on to beat previously undefeated Oklahoma State 28-24 this past Saturday in Austin, giving Texas three straight wins over opponents all ranked among the nation's top-11 teams. The win kept Texas a unanimous No. 1 in the AP poll for the second straight week and No. 1 in the season's second BCS standings as well, as Texas was ranked No. 1 in both "human" polls and all six computer rankings. Leading the way again for Texas was QB Colt McCoy, who completed 38-of-45 passes for 391 yards with two TDs and one INT. He also ran for 41 yards (10 carries) and another score. In beating Oklahoma (then No. 1), Missouri (then No. 11) and Oklahoma State (then No. 7), McCoy has completed 84.8 percent of his pass attempts, averaged 335.0 YPG through the air, thrown five TDs against just one INT, run for three TDs and led the Longhorns to an average of 43.0 PPG. McCoy passed Vince Young for first place on Texas' all-time list of TDs responsible for (passing, rushing, receiving) last week and with three more TDs against OSU, his career mark is now up to 85 (Young had 81 and former Heisman-winner Ricky Williams had 76). Let's remember that 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's 391-yard passing effort was his third 300-yard game of the '08 season and the seventh of his career, plus his total of 412 yards rushing still leads the team. His QB rating of 186.5 ranks behind only Tulsa's David Johnson and one can hardly compare the twos competition. Texas will meet its fourth consecutive top-11 team this Saturday, as the Longhorns will visit Lubbock to take on the Red Raiders, whose No. 6 ranking in the AP poll is the school's highest ranking since November 15 of 1976, when the Red Raiders were ranked No. 5 (Tech is 7th in the BCS). Texas has won the last five meetings between the two schools, last losing in 2002, 42-38 (in Lubbock). McCoy has led the Longhorns to two straight wins over the Red Raiders, completing 68.8 percent of his 61 attempts, averaging 262.0 YPG and throwing eight TDs against just two INTs. McCoy's season stats are: 198-of-242 (81.8 percent) for 2,285 yards with 21 TDs and 4 INTs / QB rating of 186.5 is 2nd in the nation / 80 carries for 412 yards (5.2 YPC) and 7 TDs


2) SAM BRADFORD (Oklahoma) Last Week: 2. Oklahoma 'exploded' for 55 points in the first half of its game against Kansas State this past Saturday but added just three points in the second half, for a 58-35 win. Bradford had topped 300 yards in six straight games against Division I-A opponents since the Sooners opened against Chattanooga but had his worst game of the season against the Wildcats. He entered the game having completed 71.4 percent of his 238 pass attempts this year but completed just 40.6 percent (13-of-32) against KSU. The 40 percent completion rate was the lowest of his career and was only the second time more than half of his passes were incomplete in a contest. In the second half, Bradford was 1-for-9 with only a 33-yard completion. However, he did throw three TD passes and wasn't intercepted but his 255 yards passing was his worst effort of '08 since seeing limited action against Chattanooga. That leaves him with eight career 300-yard games, two of which are 400-plus. Let's remember 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 QB rating of 185.9, which is higher than last year's mark, currently puts him third in the nation. The Sooners return home to Norman this week to host Nebraska. A sign that times have changed in the Big 12 is that while the Sooners are just 5-10 vs the Cornhuskers since 1988, four of those five wins have come since 2000, including a 21-7 win in the 2006 Big 12 championship game (these schools no longer meet every year). Oklahoma has won 22 straight home games (13-7-1 ATS), which is the longest active home winning streak in CFB. The Sooners have won 42nd of their last 43 home games and are 58-2 SU at home under Bob Stoops. They last lost a conference home game on Nov 24, 2001, when Oklahoma State (26 1/2-point underdogs) beat them 16-13. The early number on this game has Oklahoma favored by points. Bradford's season stats are: 183-of-270 (71.4 percent) for 2,775 yards with 29 TDs and 5 INTs / QB rating of 185.9 ranks him No. 3 / 3 rush TDs.


3) GRAHAM HARRELL (Texas Tech) Last Week: 3. Kansas matched Harrell and Texas Tech TD-for-TD in a first quarter that ended 14-14 in Lawrence this past Saturday. However, the Red Raiders ripped off 49 unanswered points for their 10th victory in 11 games against Kansas, a team which had won 13 straight home games. Harrell threw for 386 yards (34-of-42) and five TDs (no INTs), while also scoring a rushing TD (his sixth of the year) for the fourth straight game. It marked Graham's 28th game of 300 yards passing (18 of those have topped 400 yards) and it marked the ninth career game in which he's had at least five TD passes. His TD pass total is now 117, tying him with Timmy Chang for third on the all-time list, behind only Ty Detmer (121) and Colt Brennan (131). He also moved past Philip Rivers for fourth place on the all-time career passing yardage list with 13,829 yards. Tech has now won 10 straight games, joining Penn State for the nation's longest active winning streak. The Red Raiders have now scored at least 30 points in 24 of their last 26 games, including 12 in a row, a streak which also leads the nation. I mentioned in the McCoy write-up that Tech's No. 6 ranking in the AP poll is the school's highest since 1976 and by improving to 8-0 this year, it should be noted that the Red Raiders haven't started a season better than 8-0 since 1938. The win over then-No. 19 Kansas was impressive but things only get tougher for the Red Raiders (and Harrell's Heisman chances) the next three games. Tech will host No. 1 Texas this Saturday, then No. 9 Oklahoma State on November 8 and after a week off, visit No. 4 Oklahoma on November 22. Harrell's made two career starts against the Longhorns and his Red Raiders are 0-2 but it would be hard to say it's been his fault. Harrell completed 36-of-48 passes for 466 yards (with five TDs and one INT) in last year's 59-43 loss at Austin and when Texas beat the Red Raiders 35-31 in Lubbock in 2006, Harrell completed 42-of-62 for 519 yards with three TDs and one INT. Harrell's season stats are: 256-of-360 (71.1 percent) for 3.147 yards with 28 TDs and 5 INTs / QB rating of 167.4 ranks 6th / 6 rush TDs.


4) TIM TEBOW (Florida) Last Week: 4. I mentioned last week that I believe this year's Heisman race is down to McCoy, Bradford and Harrell. I'm sticking to that for now but I'll continue to place Tebow (the defending champ) in my top-five, as he's got a pedigree and lots of good will built up among voters (not only for his play last year, which was spectacular, but because of the type of person he is). It seemed unreasonable to expect that Tebow would match last year's numbers (3,286 yards passing with 32 TDs / 895 yards rushing with 23 TDs) but he "won't even come close" this year. He 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 to-date, throwing two TD passes to Percy Harvin and running for a score, as Florida dominated defending national champion LSU by the score of 51-21. Tebow finished 14-of-21 for 210 yards. He also ran 12 times for 22 yards. After an off-week, the Gators hosted Kentucky and Florida won 63-5. Beating the Wildcats isn't exactly news, as Florida beat Kentucky for the 22nd straight time. Tebow completed 11-of-15 passes for 180 yards (one INT), while throwing for two TDs and rushing for two more (nine carries for 48 yards). The two rushing TDs gave him 36 in his career, tying him with Emmitt Smith for the school record. Florida also improved to 23-2 at home under Urban Meyer. Coming up this Saturday is Florida's annual showdown with Georgia in Jacksonville, better known as "the world's biggest outdoor cocktail party." The Bulldogs thumped the Gators last year (42-30) but Florida has won eight of the last 10 meetings, as well as 15 of the last 18 with Georgia. To beat the Bulldogs this year, the Gators will need a better game from Tebow, who last year completed 14-of-22 passes for 236 yards (one TD and no INTs). He also added two rushing TDs but for the game, was held to minus-15 yards on the ground. Tebow's season stats are: 104-of-164 (63.4 percent) for 1,415 yards with 12 TDs and 2 INTs / QB rating of 157.6 ranks 11th / 82 carries for 227 yards (2.8 YPC) 5 TDs.


5) KNOWSHON MORENO (Georgia) Last Week: 5. I may as well have one RB in my top-five and I've chosen Moreno over Ringer in this spot because the Bulldogs have played a much tougher schedule. Georgia continued its dominance of Vanderbilt with a 24-14 win on October 18, as Moreno led Georgia with 172 yards rushing on 23 carries. The 172 yards was a season-high and was his fourth 100-yard performance of the season. He followed that performance by running for 163 yards this past Saturday (including a 68-yard TD) in Georgia's impressive 52-38 win at LSU. It was his 11th career 100-yard game and third straight this season. Georgia is ranked No. 8 in the current AP poll and 6th in the first BCS standings and Moreno has run for 335 yards (7.6 YPC) in his last two games. Saturday's showdown in Jacksonville with No. 5 Florida (8th in the BCS) will likely determine the SEC East champion. Moreno was dominant in last year's 42-30 win over Florida, gaining 188 yards on the ground with three TDs. In was the second game of a five-game stretch in which he averaged 153.2 YPG on the ground, establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with. A repeat-performance of last year, could get Moreno an invite to New York, as a Heisman finalist. His season stats are: 149 carries for 925 yards (6.2 YPC) with 12 TDs / 14 catches for 143 yards (10.2 YPC) with 0 TDs.


6) JEVON RINGER (Michigan State) Last Week: 7


7) CHASE DANIEL (Missouri) Last Week: 6.


8) JEREMY MACLIN (Missouri) Last Week: NR.


9) DAVID JOHNSON (Tulsa) Last Week: 10.


10) DONALD BROWN (U Conn) Last Week: NR.

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