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Heisman Top 10

   by Larry Ness - 11/18/2008

1) GRAHAM HARRELL (Texas Tech) Last Week: 1. Texas Tech followed its dramatic 39-33 win over Texas on November 1 with a convincing 56-20 win over Oklahoma State on 11/8 in Lubbock. Like his predecessors at Texas Tech, Harrell has lived with the claim that's it's Mike Leach's "system" not the QB, which is the star of the Texas Tech offense. Graham has worked hard to overcome that stigma and if there remained any doubters after the Texas game, there can be none left after Harrell picked apart the Cowboys. Harrell fumbled on Tech's first possession and OSU took a 7-0 lead but he then led the Red Raiders to TDs on their next seven possessions. Harrell finished 40-of-50 for 456 yards with six TDs (three to Crabtree) and no interceptions. That followed his 474-yard effort against the Longhorns (by the way, that makes 103 attempts the last two games vs Texas and OSU, without an interception), giving him his 30th game of 300 yards passing, with 20 of those having topped 400 yards. The 456-effort gives Harrell 14,759 career passing yards, just behind Ty Detmer of BYU, who ranks second with 15,031 yards (Timmy Chang of Hawaii is the all-time leader with 17,072 yards). The six TD passes give him 125 for his career, as he passed Ty Detmer (121), leaving only Colt Brennan (131) ahead of him on the all-time list. The win over Texas was arguably the biggest in school history, as it marked Tech's 500th career win and was the school's first-ever against a school ranked No. 1. However, the OSU win solidified Tech's No. 2 ranking in the BCS standings and sets up another "biggest game in school history" this Saturday in Norman against Oklahoma. Tech is tied with Alabama and Utah for the nation's longest active winning streak with 12 straight wins. The Red Raiders are averaging 47.9 PPG (3rd in the nation) and have now scored at least 30 points in 26 of their last 28 games, including 14 in a row, a streak which also leads the nation. Tech got a much-deserved week off (as did the Sooners) but head to Norman this Saturday where Oklahoma has won 23 straight and 43 of its last 44. So who's worried? Surely not Harrell. The Red Raiders beat the Sooners 34-27 last year in Lubbock, a loss that knocked Oklahoma out of the national championship chase. Harrell had an interception returned 63 yards for a TD to give the Sooners a 7-0 lead but Sam Braford was forced out of the game with an apparent concussion with the Sooners up 7-3, after just their second possession of the game. Tech scored 24 straight points after Bradford went out and by the time the Sooners got anything going on offense in the fourth quarter, it was too late. Harrell threw for 420 yards (47-of-72) with two TDs (also two INTs) and ran for a third. However, two years ago in Norman, the Sooners won 34-24, as Harrell had just 250 yards passing (26-of-48) with two TDs and an interception. The early number has the Red Raiders as a seven-point underdog. His season stats are: 332-of-449 (71.7 percent) for 4,077 yards with 36 TDs and 5 INTs / QB rating of 165.2 ranks 7th / 6 rush TDs.

2) SAM BRADFORD (Oklahoma) Last Week: 2. Talk about 'splitting hairs.' It's difficult to chose between Harrell, Bradford and McCoy. In the end it may come down to personal preference for the voters. Does one prefer blondes, brunettes or red-heads. 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. His current QB rating of 188.9, which is higher than last year's mark, currently puts him second in the nation. On top of that, he's already surpassed last year's TD pass (38) and passing yards ( 3,406) totals with at least three games left to his 2008 season. Oklahoma is the nation's No. 1 scoring team (51.4 PPG) and has scored 50-plus points in six games this season (the only Oklahoma team with more 50-point games was the 2003 squad, with seven 50-point games). Bradford completed 22-of-33 passes for 320 yards and four TDs (to four different receivers!) in his last game (a 66-28 win at Texas A&M) without an interception, plus added a rushing TD. Bradford now has eight 300-yard passing games this season, tying the single-season school record set by Josh Heupel in 1999 and 10 in his career (two have been 400-plus games). His 22 completions now give him an Oklahoma-record 461 for his career. Oklahoma and Bradford lost their showdown on October 11 to Texas and McCoy but get a 'second chance' this Saturday when Texas Tech and Harrell visit Norman. Oklahoma has won 23 straight home games (14-7-1 ATS), which is the longest active home winning streak in CFB. The Sooners have also won 43 of their last 44 home games and are 59-2 SU at home under Bob Stoops. Neither Oklahoma nor Bradford can afford a loss to Texas Tech if the Sooners are to have a chance at the BCS title game and Bradford at the Heisman. As I mentioned in the above write-up, Bradford was knocked out of last year's game early on. "Game on" this Saturday at 8:00 ET! Bradford's season stats are: 224-of-330 (67.9 percent) for 3,406 yards with 38 TDs and 6 INTs / QB rating of 188.9 ranks him No. 2 / 4 rush TDs.

3) COLT MCCOY (Texas) Last Week: 3. McCoy bested Bradford in the Texas/Oklahoma game on October and 11 and if he and the Longhorns came within a dropped interception by Texas freshman safety Blake Gideon of besting Tech and Harrell on November 1. However, Gideon did drop what would have been a game-ending interception on a tipped ball and one play later, Harrell threw that famous TD pass to Crabtree. Remember my line about splitting hairs? I'll keep McCoy at the No. 3 spot but the final three weekends promise plenty of drama. While both Harrell and Bradford were resting this past Saturday, McCoy led Texas past Kansas 35-7. The Longhorns moved to 10-1, claiming their eighth straight 10-win season, which ties them with Miami (1985-92) for the second-longest streak of all-time. The Longhorns also own at least nine wins for 11 straight seasons, the longest active streak in the nation. Colt McCoy was 24-for-34 for 255 yards and two TDs (no INTs). It was his 15th straight game with at least one TD pass. McCoy's two TD passes raised his season total to 30, breaking his own school record set in his freshman year (2006). He's now 30-7 as a starter, tying Vince Young for the most wins as a Texas quarterback. McCoy passed Vince Young for first place on Texas' all-time list of TDs responsible for (passing, rushing, receiving) a month ago and with his two TDs and one rushing (ran for 78 yards on 16 carries vs the Jayhawks), his career mark is now up to 95 (Young had 81 and former Heisman-winner Ricky Williams had 76). McCoy's completing nearly 80 percent of his passes on the year, his QB rating of 177.6 ranks 4th and he is still the team's leader in rushing yards for the season with 527. That's a pretty good resume for the QB of the nation's 4th-ranked team in the AP and 3rd in the current BCS standings. While Texas Tech and Oklahoma battle in Norman this coming Saturday night, the Longhorns are off until Thanksgiving, when they host Texas A&M. His season stats are: 268-of-347 (77.2 percent) for 3.134 yards with 30 TDs and 7 INTs / QB rating of 177.6 is 4th in the nation / 117 carries for 527 yards (4.5 YPC) and 8 TDs.

4) TIM TEBOW (Florida) Last Week: 4. No one expected Tebow to match his terrific numbers from last year (3,286 yards passing with 32 TDs / 895 yards rushing with 23 TDs) but he really put himself in a pretty big 'hole' the first four games of '08. The Gators suffered a devastating 31-30 loss at home to Ole Miss (Florida missed an extra-point) on September 27 and while Tebow had a season-high 319 yards passing in that game plus two rushing TDs, he had thrown for just six TDs and rushed for only 125 yards (2.6 YPC) over Florida's first four games. With this year's great contingent of prolific Big 12 QBs, those kind of numbers were not going to cut it. However, Tebow has been quite impressive since that loss to Ole Miss, leading the Gators to six straight wins, by the combined scores of 299-63. The streak includes a 51-21 win over LSU (last year's national champs) and 49-10 over Georgia (the nation's preseason No. 1 team). Tebow led the Gators to a dominating 56-6 win over South Carolina this past Saturday, completing 13-of-20 passes for 173 yards with two TDs and no INTs. He ran for 39 yards (14 carries), while adding another rushing TD. He broke Emmitt Smith's school record of 36 rushing TDs against Georgia and his career total is now up to 42. Florida is guaranteed a spot in the SEC title game, where the Gators will meet current No. 1, Alabama. Florida is currently No. 3 in the AP poll and 4th in the BCS standings. If both Alabama and Florida can stay perfect the rest of the way, it's likely that SEC championship game on December 6, will give the winner a spot in the BCS title game. Tebow's slow start is too much to overcome this year in the Heisman race but Florida's overall play has many thinking the Gators are now CFB's best team. Tebow's thrown 13 TDs (just two INTs) and added nine more TDs on the ground over the last six games but those Big 12 QBs just had too much of a head start. The Gators host The Citadel this Saturday, so Tebow will have little chance to impress anyone. His season stats are: 139-of-214 (65.0 percent) for 1,913 yards with 19 TDs and 2 INTs / QB rating of 167.5 ranks 9th / 119 carries for 393 yards (3.3 YPC) 11 TDs.

5) MICHAEL CRABTREE (Texas Tech) Last Week: 5. I had Crabtree No. 9 in my preseason poll, along with fellow WRs Percy Harvin (Florida) and Jeremy Maclin (Missouri) but while Maclin's been a poll-regular for me due to his versatility, I didn't put Crabtree into my top-10 until November 3 (at the No. 5 spot). As the saying goes, better late than never. Crabtree caught an amazing 134 passes last year as a freshman, leading the nation in both receiving yards (1,962) and TD receptions (22), as well. In the process, he became the first freshman to win the Biletnikoff award as the nation's best receiver. Crabtree had eight catches with three going for TDs in Tech's romp over Oklahoma State on 11/8. That performance extended his streak of recording at least five receptions and a touchdown catch to 13 consecutive games, matching Randy Moss and leaving him one game shy of Pitt's Larry Fitzgerald, who had a 14-game streak for the Panthers from 2002-03. Crabtree had a modest 89 receiving yards in the game but has topped 100 yards in 15 of his 23 career games, while catching an amazing total of 40 TDs. Tech visits Oklahoma this Saturday in a game which has some fairly important implications. Crabtree's season stats are: 78 catches for 1,010 yards (12.9 YPC) with 18 TDs.

6)JEREMY MACLIN (Missouri) Last Week: 6. It's hard to argue against the fact that Crabtree is the nation's best receiver but Maclin isn't too far behind and he's a better all-around performer. Maclin caught eight passes for 103 yards and one TD in Missouri's 52- 20 win at Iowa State this past Saturday. It was his sixth 100-yard receiving game this year and the ninth of his career. He added eight rushing yards and 111 more yards on four kickoff returns. Maclin has 79 receptions for 1,052 yards (13.3 YPC) with 10 TDs. He's added 198 rushing (6.4 YPC) with two more TDs. Throw in 188 yards on punt returns plus 769 more on kickoff returns and his 200.6 YPG ranks him first in all-purpose yards nationally. Missouri is off next week and closes vs Kansas in Kansas City on November 29.

7) CHASE DANIEL (Missouri) Last Week: 7. Daniel was my early favorite for this award but Missouri's back-to-back losses to Oklahoma State and Texas did him (as have the performances of fellow Big 12 QBs Harrell, Bradford and McCoy). Daniel has completed 76.5 percent for 3,592 yards with 30 TDs and 11 INTs (his QB rating of 171.2 ranks 5th) but likely will not get an invite to New York this year (he finished fourth last year). Sweet revenge could still be his however, if Missouri were to upset the Big 12's South champ (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State or Texas) in the Big 12 championship game. Missouri is off next week and closes vs Kansas in Kansas City on November 29.

8) JAVON RINGER (Michigan State) Last Week: 8. Ringer leads the nation with 20 TDs (No. 1 in scoring 10.9 PPG), ranks third in rushing yards (140.7 YPG) and 4th in all-purpose yards (173.2 YPG). The 20 rushing TDs in a season is the second-most in school history, behind Jehuu Caulcrick's 21 set last season. The Spartans are 9-2 for the first time since 1999 and can win a share of the Big Ten title by winning at Penn State this coming Saturday, something they haven't done since 1990. Ringer has seven 100-yard games this year (19 in his career) but was a non-factor last year (13 carries for 48 yards), when the Spartans came back from a 24-7 deficit to beat Penn State 35-31 in East Lansing.

9) MAX HALL (BYU) Last Week: NR. 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, passing for 3,848 yards in '07, throwing 26 TDs and just 12 INTs (completed 60.1 percent). BYU entered this year on a 10-game winning streak and extended it to 16 in a row, before losing in Fort Worth to TCU, 32-7. Hall has led the Cougars to four consecutive wins since, throwing for 326.3 YPG with 14 TDs and just two INTs during the run. Hall has 11 career 300-yard games (two of more than 400), is 21-3 as a starter and has led BYU to 20 wins in its last 21 games. BYU travels to salt Lake City this Saturday, hoping to spoil 11-0 Utah's perfect season. The Utes are currently No. 7 in the BCS standings and a win almost assures them their second BCS bowl bid since 2004. Playing with a sprained shoulder last year, Max Hall drove the Cougars 80 yards in seven plays to beat the Utes, 17-10 at Provo. All he had to do was convert on a fourth-and-18 from his own 12 with barely a minute remaining, connecting on 49-yard gain. The play, with 1:05 left, kept the final drive going and led to an 11-yard touchdown run with 38 seconds. Will we see that same kind of drama this year?

10) Up for grabs. You make the call.

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