Get the best handicapping articles and gambling advice throughout the football, basketball and baseball seasons from the world's top sports handicappers, as well as from Bovada (Bodog) Sportsbook and Casino.
Heisman Top 10
by Larry Ness - 11/24/2008
1) SAM BRADFORD (Oklahoma) Last Week: 2. This past Saturday night in Norman, Oklahoma's Bradford threw 19 passes while Texas Tech's Harrell attempted 55 and as the saying goes, "less is more!" Saturday's night showdown was pretty much over in the mid-second quarter (28-0) and was all-but-over when the Sooners scored two TDs in the final 1:04 of the half for a 42-7 lead. Bradford finished 14-of-19 for 304 yards with four TDs and no INTs in the 65-21 win. It's difficult to chose between Bradford, McCoy and Harrell but I've got to place someone at No. 1. My choice this week is Bradford, who has led the Sooners to five straight wins since the Texas loss, averaging 331.6 YPG through the air with 19 TDs and just one INT (164 attempts). 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 193.8, 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 (42) and passing yards ( 3,710) totals with at least two games left to his 2008 season. Oklahoma is the nation's No. 1 scoring team (52.6 PPG) and has scored 50-plus points in seven games this season, tying Oklahoma's 2003 squad for the most 50-plus games in a single season.seven 50-point games. Bradford now has nine 300-yard passing games this season, breaking the single-season school record set by Josh Heupel in 1999 and 11 in his career (two have been 400-plus games). His 42 TD passes set a new school record in one season, surpassing the 40 Jason White threw in his 2003 Heisman season. Oklahoma and Bradford lost their showdown on October 11 to Texas and McCoy but made the most their game with Tech. The win moved Oklahoma to No. 2 in the coaches' poll (Texas is 4th) and 3rd in the Harris poll (Texas is 4th). Texas is barely ahead of the Sooners in the BCS standings (No. 2 to No. 3) but while Texas hosts the 4-7 Aggies on Thanksgiving, the Sooners play at Stillwater vs Oklahoma State (ranked 12th in the BCS) on Saturday. An impressive win by the Sooners, will likely move them ahead of the Longhorns in next Sunday's BCS standings, which would give Oklahoma a spot in the Big 12 championship game, if Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech all finish with one loss. Oklahoma has won 24 straight home games (15-7-1 ATS), which is the longest active home winning streak in CFB. The Sooners have also won 44 of their last 45 home games and are 60-2 SU at home under Bob Stoop, including 34-1 in Big 12 games. However, the Sooners are on the road this year at Oklahoma State. The Cowboys famously beat the Sooners in Norman 16-13 in 2001 (Stoops' lone Big 12 home loss) and in '02 at Stillwater, 38-28. Since then, the Sooners are 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS against the Cowboys. Bradford threw just 15 times in last year's 49-17 win over the Cowboys but had four TD passes. His season stats are: 238-of-349 (68.2 percent) for 3,710 yards with 42 TDs and 6 INTs / QB rating of 193.8 ranks him No. 2 / 4 rush TDs.
2) 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. The Longhorns were idle last week as Oklahoma crushed Tech, 65-21. McCoy led Texas past Kansas 35-7 back on November 15. 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 2nd-ranked team in the current BCS standings. Can the Longhorns stay No. 2? They host Texas A&M Thanksgiving night and opened as a five-TD favorite. Texas is 14-1 in home finales since 1993 but that lone loss came to Texas A&M (12-7) in McCoy's freshman year of 2006 when he threw three INTs. Deja vu? If so, Texas and McCoy 'are out!' McCoy's 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.
3) 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 should have been none left after Harrell picked apart the Cowboys. He finished 40-of-50 for 456 yards with six TDs (three to Crabtree) and no interceptions. However, Harrell and the Red Raiders were embarrassed at Norman. Tech was down 28-0 before Harrell threw his first TD pass, down 52-7 at the time of his second and 65-14, when he threw his third. Tech entered the game No. 2 in all the major polls and in the BCS standings but the loss dropped them to No. 7 in the BCS standings. Tech's 12-game winning streak is over, as is their streak of 14 straight games of having scored 30 points or more (both were the longest active streaks in CFB). Harrell finished the game 33-of-55 for 361 yards with three TDs and one INT. He now has 31 career 300-yard games with 20 of those games being of the 400-yard variety. His 361-yard effort moved him past Ty Detmer of BYU (15,031 yards) with 15,120 career passing yards, the second-most yards all-time (Timmy Chang of Hawaii is the all-time leader with 17,072 yards). The three TD passes give him 128 for his career, second to only Colt Brennan (131) on the all-time list. Tech has no way of winning a three-way tie with Oklahoma and Texas in the Big 12 South but if Oklahoma were to lose at Stillwater (that's not far-fetched), the Red Raiders would advance to the Big 12 championship over Texas, because of their 39-33 win on November 1. If Tech loses to Baylor this Saturday in Lubbock (Tech opened as a 20 1/2-point favorite), the Red Raiders should be regulated to the Eagle Bank Bowl to play Navy. Baylor is 2-49 all-time on the big 12 road and has lost 12 straight games to the Red Raiders by an average of 30 PPG. Harrell's season stats are: 365-of-518 (70.5 percent) for 4,438 yards with 39 TDs and 6 INTs / QB rating of 165.0 ranks 8th / 6 rush 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 are not going to cut it. However, Tebow has been quite impressive since that loss to Ole Miss, leading the Gators to seven straight wins, by the combined scores of 369-82. 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) but also last Saturday's 70-19 win over The Citadel. Tebow broke Emmitt Smith's school record of 36 rushing TDs against Georgia and his career total remained at 42, after he had just two rushing attempts for 34 yards in minimal work against The Citadel. Tebow had an early afternoon (was in for just five plays in the second quarter before turning things over to Brantley) but completed 9 of 11 passes for 201 yards and three TDs. Florida scored TDs on its first seven possessions, racked up 512 yards in the first half alone and became the first SEC team to score at least 42 points in six consecutive games. Florida is guaranteed a spot in the SEC title game, where the Gators will meet current No. 1, Alabama. If Alabama can beat Auburn and Florida beats FSU on Saturday, the winner of the SEC championship game on December 6 gets 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 16 TDs (just two INTs) and added nine more TDs on the ground over the last seven games but those Big 12 QBs just had too much of a head start. Consider this. Tebow has fewer pass attempts (225) than Bradford (238), McCoy (268) and Harrell (365) have in completions. Florida plays at Florida State on Saturday. The Gators have played the Seminoles in their regular season finale every year since 1980 (14-13-1). However, Florida has won four straight (3-1 ATS), including last year's 45-12 win in "The Swamp." Tebow wasn't 100 percent in that game, yet had 262 yards passing with three TDs, plus 89 yards rushing with two more TDs. His season stats are: 148-of-225 (65.8 percent) for 2,114 yards with 22 TDs and 2 INTs / QB rating of 75..2 ranks 5th / 121 carries for 427 yards (3.5 YPC) 11 TDs.
5)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 on November 15.. 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 200.3 YPG ranks him first in all-purpose yards nationally. Missouri was off last week but plays Kansas in Kansas City on Saturday and then meets the Big 12 South winner in the Big 12 championship game in the same stadium on December 6. Missouri's back-to-back losses to Oklahoma State and Texas (October 11 and 18) took the Tigers out of the national title-game 'picture,' as it did Maclin's QB, Chase Daniel, in the Heisman race. Last year Missouri was left out of the BCS bowl 'party' but can gain some "sweet revenge" if it were to upset the Big 12's South champ (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State or Texas) in the Big 12 championship game, this year.
6) MICHAEL CRABTREE (Texas Tech) Last Week: 5. 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. As we all know, Tech was overwhelmed by Oklahoma last Saturday and Crabtree was held to six catches for 62 yards and most importantly, without a TD grab, ending his streak. For the second straight game he was held to less than 100 yards receiving but he has topped 100 yards in 15 of his 24 career games, while catching an amazing total of 40 TDs. However, I decided to move Maclin into the top-five this week, ahead of Crabtree.
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 in (as have the performances of fellow Big 12 QBs Bradford, McCoy and Harrell). Daniel has completed 76.5 percent for 3,592 yards with 30 TDs and 11 INTs (his QB rating of 171.2 ranks 6th) 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 plays Kansas in Kansas City this Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium, where the Big 12 championship game will be held on December. .
8)SHONN GREENE (Iowa) Last Week: NR. This is the first time I've had Greene in my top-10 this year. Some may ask, "why did it take so long?" Iowa went 6-6 last year, failing to make a bowl game for the first time since the Hawkeyes went 3-9 in 2000. As for Greene, he missed last season due to academic issues. Greene ran for 144 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries this past Saturday in Iowa's 55-0 win at Minnesota, propelling Iowa (8-4, 5-3) into to a fourth-place tie in the conference with Northwestern. Greene topped 100 yards rushing in all 12 games this year, including a career (season) high 217 in a 38-16 home win over Wisconsin. He finished the year with 1,729 yards, setting Iowa's single-season record (broke Tavian Banks' record set in 1997). He averaged 6.2 YPC, scored 17 TDs and his 144.1 YPG ranks second in the nation.
9) JAVON RINGER (Michigan State) Last Week: 8. I've had Ringer in my top-10 almost all season but for all the good things he's accomplished, it's hard to ignore his poor performances in the Spartans' two Big 10 losses this season. First the good news. Ringer leads the nation with 21 TDs (No. 2 in scoring 10.5 PPG) and ranks third in rushing yards (132.5 YPG) with 1,590 yards. The 21 rushing TDs in a season ties the school record set by Jehuu Caulcrick's last season. Ringer has seven 100-yard games this year (19 in his career) but was a non-factor in a 45-7 home loss to Ohio State (16-67) and last Saturday's 49-18 loss at Penn State (17-42).
10) MIQUALE LEWIS and NATE DAVIS (Ball State) Last Week: NR. Ball State joined the AP top-25 (at No. 25) back on October 5, marking the school's first-ever appearance in the poll that began in 1936. The Cardinals enter Tuesday's game at home vs Western Michigan at 11-0, one of just four unbeaten Division I-A schools. The 11 wins are a single-season school record (the 1978 team went 10-1) and the Cardinals are ranked 15 in the current AP poll and 15th in the latest BCS standings. Lewis has topped 100-yards in nine of 11 games this year, with his season-high (177) coming last Wednesday in Ball State's 31-24 win at Central Michigan (the two-time defending MAC champs). QB Davis threw four TD passes in the win over the Chippewas and enters Tuesday's home finale having thrown 54 TDs and just 12 INTs the last two years (this year's ratio is 24-6).