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Heisman Trophy Rankings

   by Larry Ness - 12/05/2008

1) SAM BRADFORD (Oklahoma) Last Week: 1. Sam Bradford only needed 19 attempts to get four TD passes in Oklahoma's 65-21 win over Texas Tech on November. He was much busier last Saturday night in Stillwater, as he threw 44 times in the Sooners' 61-41 win over the Cowboys. He completed 30 of his throws for 370 yards and four more TD passes, while also adding a fifth TD on a one-yard run. The Cowboys wouldn't 'go away,' until the Sooners finally ended the drama with 17 points in the last 7 1/2 minutes of the game. The series is called "Bedlam" and that was about right, as the teams combined for the most points in the history of the rivalry and combined for 1,009 yards. The 61 points by Oklahoma is its most against OSU since 1980 (63) and marks the fourth straight game in which the Sooners have scored 60 or more points. I guess a reasonable person could place Harrell, McCoy or Tebow at the top of their Heisman list but I'm going wit Bradford. Since the Texas loss, he's led the Sooners to six straight wins in which they've averaged 59.5 PPG. If the Sooners can maintain their 53.3 PPG clip in the Saturday's Big 12 championship game and a bowl game, it will make them one of just three teams in college football history to score more than 700 points in a season. Bradford has averaged 338.0 YPG through the air in the team's six-game winning streak throwing 23 TD passes with just one INT. 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 191.0, 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 and passing yards totals (see below) with two games left to his 2008 season. Bradford now has 10, 300-yard passing games this season, breaking the single-season school record set by Josh Heupel (eight) in 1999 and 12 in his career (two have been 400-plus games). His 46 TD passes for the year extends the school record he already owns, surpassing the 40 Jason White threw in his 2003 Heisman season. How dominant has Bradford's first two season really been? His four TD passes against OSU extends his record to 82 through his sophomore season. Who is second on that list? Try Rex Grossman, who had 55 TD passes in his first two years with the Gators. Bradford's already toped that by 27 and has two games remaining!. Oklahoma edged out Texas in last Sunday's BCS standings giving the Sooners a spot in the Big 12 championship game against the Tigers on Saturday at Kansas City. Bradford's two TD passes in a 24-point second half lifted Oklahoma to a 38-17 win over then-No. 1 Missouri in last year's Big 12 title game at San Antonio. It could be a huge day for Oklahoma fans Saturday night, as a win could (should?) send Oklahoma off to the BCS title game in Miami on January 8 (Oklahoma owns seven national titles) plus Bradford off to New York next weekend to receive the Heisman. He would join fellow Sooners Billy Vessels (1952), Steve Owens (1969), Billy Sims (1978) and Jason White (2003). His season stats are: 268-of-393 (68.2 percent) for 4,080 yards with 46 TDs and 6 INTs / QB rating of 191.0 ranks him No. 2 / 5 rush TDs.

2) COLT MCCOY (Texas) Last Week: 2. McCoy bested Bradford in the Texas/Oklahoma game on October 11 plus 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 beat Texas A&M 49-9 on Thanksgiving night (ending a two-game losing streak to the hated-Aggies) but as I just mentioned, Oklahoma's 61-41 win over Oklahoma State last Saturday night in Stillwater, was "just enough" for the Sooners to slip past the Longhorns in Sunday's BCS standings and give them, not the Longhorns, a place in the Big 12 championship game. I've got a feeling it's going to be a year of "almosts" for McCoy. The Longhorns moved to 11-1, with their win over Texas A&M (have claimed eighth straight 10-win seasons, which ties them with Miami, from 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 (23-of-28) threw for 311 yards and two TDs (16th straight game with at least one TD pass) and added two rushing TDs (11 carries for 49 yards) as he continues to climb the all-time leaderboard at Texas. McCoy has now thrown for 3,445 yards this season, passing Major Applewhite for the most yards in one season in school history. His 32 TD passes in one season is also a single-season record at Texas, one he already owned when he threw 29 as a freshman (2006). The win against A&M was McCoy's 31st win as a starter for the Longhorns, tying him with Vince Young for the most by a Texas QB. McCoy passed Vince Young for first place on Texas' all-time list of TDs responsible for (passing, rushing, receiving) more than a month ago and with his two TD passes and two rushing, his career mark is now up to 99 (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 576. That's a pretty good resume but it may not be good enough? McCoy and Texas can only hope for a Missouri upset on Saturday, which could give Texas a shot at that BCS championship game. A poor performance by Bradford could also open the 'Heisman door' for McCoy. His season stats are: 291-of-375 (77.6 percent) for 3,445 yards with 32 TDs and 7 INTs / QB rating of 177.6 is 4th in the nation / 128 carries for 576 yards (4.5 YPC) and 10 TDs.

3) 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 eight straight wins, by the combined scores of 414-97. The streak includes a 51-21 win over LSU (last year's national champs), 49-10 over Georgia (the nation's preseason No. 1 team) and last Saturday's 45-15 thumping of Florida State (most points Florida has ever scored at Doak Campbell Stadium). Tebow threw three TD passes (12-of-21 with no INTs) and ran for 80 yards (16 carries) adding a fourth score. Tebow broke Emmitt Smith's school record of 36 rushing TDs against Georgia and is career total is now at 43. Florida became the first SEC team to score at least 42 points in six consecutive games with its 70-14 win over The Citadel on Nov 22, so it stands to reason that it became the first SEC team to score 42 or more in seven straight games with the FSU result. Tebow's thrown 19 TDs (just two INTs) and added 10 more TDs on the ground over the last eight games but those Big 12 QBs just had too much of a head start. Consider this. Tebow has fewer pass attempts (246) than Bradford (268), McCoy (291) and Harrell (406) have completions. Florida plays Alabama on Saturday (at the Georgia Dome) in the SEC championship game. Alabama is No. 1 in all the polls plus the BCS standings, while the Gators are just 4th in the BCS. However, the Gators are No. 2 in the AP poll, which sets up the 40th all-time meeting of No. 1 and No. 2 teams. More importantly, since the AP poll is not a component of the BCS, it's all but assured that the winner of this game is headed to the BCS title game. Obviously, Alabama would be and the fact that the Gators opened as a 10 1/2-point favorite (number as of Friday is down to 9 1/2), it's almost a guarantee that a Florida win send the Gators to their second BCS title game in three years. Can Tebow can join Archie Griffin as just the second-ever back-to-back winner of the Heisman? Well, that's a much longer shot. However, I have moved him into my top-3. Tebow's season stats are: 160-of-246 (65.0 percent) for 2,299 yards with 25 TDs and 2 INTs / QB rating of 175.5 ranks 5th / 137 carries for 507 yards (3.7 YPC) 12 TDs.

4) GRAHAM HARRELL (Texas Tech) Last Week: 3. One got the feeling that the Red Raiders were still in shock over their 65-21 'pasting' at the hands of the Sooners last Saturday. Texas Tech found itself down 21-14 at home vs the Baylor Bears, a team which entered the game 2-49 all-time on the Big 12 road and had lost 31 consecutive games against AP top-10 teams, dating back to 1985. The Bears scored on their opening possession of the second half and all-of-a-sudden, Tech was down 28-14. However, despite playing without WR Michael Crabtree, who left with a right foot injury midway through the second quarter and did not return, Tech took control from there. Harrell finished 41-of-50 for 309 yards and he capped a 21-point rally for Texas Tech with his second TD pass of the game, midway through the fourth quarter, as the Red Raiders went on to win, 35-28. The Big 12 South ended in a three-way tie with Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech but as already mentioned, it was the Sooners who claimed the Big 12 title-game bid. Texas Tech has won 11 games in a season for just the third time in the program's 84 years (also in 1953 and 1973) but the Red Raiders' reward could be nothing more than a Cotton Bowl bid, left out of the BCS in favor of the Longhorns and Sooners. Harrell injured two fingers on his left hand in the second quarter of the Baylor game and while he had surgery on Sunday, the injury will not keep him from playing in Tech's bowl game. 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 there should be little doubt he did just that, this season. He now has 32 career 300-yard games with 20 of those games being of the 400-yard variety. His 309-yard effort gives him 15,429 career passing yards, the second-most yards all-time (Timmy Chang of Hawaii is the all-time leader with 17,072 yards). The two TD passes against the Bears give him 130 for his career, second to only Colt Brennan (131) on the all-time list. Like Texas, Tech needs an Oklahoma loss to Missouri. If that happened, Tech could (along with the Longhorns), grab a BCS bowl bid (no title game, though). Harrell's season stats are: 406-of-568 (71.5 percent) for 4,474 yards with 41 TDs and 7 INTs / QB rating of 163.0 ranks 9th / 6 rush TDs.

5)JEREMY MACLIN (Missouri) Last Week: 5. 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 had 241 all-purpose yards last Saturday against Kansas. He caught nine passes for 123 yards (one TD), ran for 32 yards (three carries) and added 86 yards on KO returns. However, in the 117th meeting between the schools (the second-most played rivalry in Div I-A history), Todd Reesing's 26-yard TD pass (on a 4th-and-7 play) gave Kansas a 40-37 win. It was 'sweet' revenge for last season, when Missouri knocked an 11-0 Jayhawks team out of the national title race. Missouri had already clinched the Big 12 North title, so now it's the Tigers who have a chance at some redemption this Saturday night vs Oklahoma. As for Maclin, he's "done it all" for the Tigers this year and fits the 'mold' of former Heisman winners Johnny Rodgers (Nebraska, 1972), Tim Brown (Notre Dame, 1987) and Desmond Howard (Michigan, 1991), the only three WRs to have won this award. However, Maclin won't be winning the Heisman in 2008, with this year's field of QBs. His season stats are: 88 catches for 1,175 yards (13.4 YPC) 11 TDs / 34 carries for 248 yards (7.3 YPC) 2 TDs / 188 punt return yards and 855 kick return yards / 205.5 YPG ranks him 1st in all-purpose yards.

6) 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). If there was any doubt that like last year, no invite to New York was in the offing for this year, Saturday's 40-37 loss to Kansas "sealed the deal." Daniel's 34 TD passes are a career high and tie him for sixth nationally but is performance against Kansas was one of his shakiest this season. He started the game 0-for-6 with an interception, fumbled at the end of a 54-yard run and was sacked for a safety. Missouri needed 16 1/2 minutes to get its initial first down. While he finished 25-of-41 for 288 yards with four TDs, he also had two INTs for the third time in four games. A year after he was a Heisman Trophy finalist, Daniel has completed 75.1 percent of his passes (up from 68.2 a year ago) and with 3,880 yards, has a shot at topping last season's 4,306. However, Daniel also has a career-high 13 INTs and has thrown at least one INT in seven straight games. Not this year, Chase. Then again, he may "shock us all" and be the best QB on the field Saturday night in Kansas City. His season stats are: 331-of-441 (75.1 percent) for 3,880 yards with 34 TDs and 13 INTs / QB rating of 168.5 ranks 7th.

7) MICHAEL CRABTREE (Texas Tech) Last Week: 6. 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 on 11/22 and Crabtree was held to six catches for 62 yards and most importantly, without a TD grab, ending his streak. Then he left last Saturday's game against Baylor with a right foot injury midway through the second quarter and did not return. He finished with nine catches for 63 yards, the third straight game in which he's been held to less than 100 yards receiving. However, he has topped 100 yards in 15 of his 25 career games, while catching an amazing total of 40 TDs. However, I prefer Maclin's overall game, as far as this poll is concerned. Crabtree's season stats are: 93 catches for 1,135 yards (12.2 YPC) 18 TDs.

8)SHONN GREENE (Iowa) Last Week: 8. I put Greene in my top-10 a week ago for the first time 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. However, Greene has made up for his transgressions this year. He ran for 144 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries in Iowa's 55-0 win at Minnesota on Nov 22, propelling Iowa (8-4, 5-3) into 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: 9. 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 MSU's 49-18 loss at Penn State in the Spartans' final regular season game.

10) MIQUALE LEWIS and NATE DAVIS (Ball State) Last Week: 10. 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 completed a perfect 12-0 regular season by beating Western Michigan 45-22 on November 25. Lewis ran for 120 yards and three TDs, giving him 20 on the year which broke the single-season school record for most rushing TDs in a season. Lewis has topped 100 yards in 10 of 12 games this year and enters the MAC title game with 1,570 yards (5.7 YPC), ranking him 4th in the nation at 130.8 YPG. QB Davis threw for 273 yards but just one TD and enters Friday's game with Buffalo having thrown 55 TDs and just 12 INTs the last two years (this year's ratio is 25-6). The Cardinals enter Friday's MAC championship vs Buffalo as one of the nation's four unbeaten Division I-A schools. The 12 wins are a single-season school record (the 1978 team went 10-1) and the Cardinals are ranked 12 in the current AP poll and 12th in the latest BCS standings.

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