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by Larry Ness - 11/08/2010
Nine of last week's BCS top-25 teams went down to defeat this past weekend, although the top-four won 53-16 (Oregon), 62-24 (Auburn), 47-7 (TCU) and 42-7 (Boise St). Oregon remained No. 1 for the second straight week in the BCS standings and Auburn No. 2 but both schools control their own destiny. If Oregon and Auburn both "win out," the two schools will meet in the national championship game. If so, the game would also likely feature a meeting of the Heisman winner and the Heisman runner-up. My latest Heisman report, follows.
Heisman Watch (Monday, November 8)
1) CAMERON NEWTON (Auburn) Last Week: 1. How Newton arrived at Auburn has been well-documented and if you haven't heard the story, search the archives of my last few Heisman reports for the details. Michigan QB Denard Robinson may have won CFB's player-of-the-month award in September but Newton has catapulted himself into being the clear-cut Heisman favorite since then. Two weeks ago Newton caught a 20-yard TD pass on the Tigers' opening series against Ole Miss and while his string of four straight 170-yard rushing efforts against SEC defenses ended (11 for 45 yards), he threw for 209 yards and passed for two TDs in Auburn's 51-31 win. Newton became the third Auburn player to have TDs passing, rushing and receiving in the same season, joining Carnell Williams (2004) and Kodi Burns (2009). This past Saturday with only Chattanooga to worry about on the playing field, Newton was faced with a host of off-the-field distractions as a backdrop. However, Newton and the Tigers churned out 48 points and 484 yards in the first half. Newton passed for a career-high 317 yards (15-of-21) and four TDs plus ran for a fifth (eight carries for 24 yards), all in the first half. Auburn piled up 628 yards of total offense against Chattanooga, the sixth-highest total in school history. Cam Newton has now scored 16 times this season (15 rushing / one receiving), which leaves him one short of the Auburn record of 17, shared by Cadillac Williams (2003), Stephen Davis (1995), and Bo Jackson (1985). Newton has now been responsible for 35 TDs (rushing, receiving and passing) in 10 games. The most rushing yards in a single-season by a QB in SEC history heading into this year was held by Jimmy Sidle (another Auburn QB), when he gained 1,006 yards in 1963. Newton passed that mark vs LSU back on Oct 23 and he's got at least three games remaining (a fourth, if Auburn makes the SEC championship game) to add to his current total of 1,146, which is quite an accomplishment. He hasn't fumbled in a single one of his 176 rushing attempts and his QB rating of 182.8 ranks second to only Boise State's Kellen Moore. Georgia is up next for the Tigers, then a week off before playing the Iron Bowl vs Alabama in Tuscaloosa on November 26 (Friday after Thanksgiving). I don't believe Newton's "the lock" everyone else thinks he is but he's sure the prohibitive favorite to become Auburn's third Heisman winner (Pat Sullivan won in 1971 and Bo Jackson in 1985). Newton's season stats are: 123-of-183 for 1,890 yards (67.2 percent) 19 TDs 5 INTs / 176 carries for 1,146 yards (6.5 YPC) 15 TDs / 1 TD catch
2) LAMICHAEL JAMES (Oregon) Last Week: 2. Oregon claimed the school's first-ever No. 1 ranking in the AP poll on October 10 and have held the top spot since, in all the "human" polls. Oregon leapfrogged Auburn for No. 1 in the BCS standings on October 31, a day after beating USC in the Coliseum, 53-32. For a few minutes, USC thought it had figured out the nation's top-ranked team, when the Trojans took a 32-29 lead in a 2½-minute outburst in the third quarter of that game. However, the Ducks would score the game's final 24 points. James rushed for 239 yards and three TDs. The Ducks were held scoreless in the first quarter for the first time this season last Saturday vs Washington but would win 53-16, outscoring Washington 35-10 in the second half. It marked Oregon's third straight game scoring at least 50 points, as the Ducks became the sixth top-ranked AP team to score 50 points in at least three straight games. James ran for a modest 121 yards (26 carries)and scored three TDs, his fifth straight multi-TD game. James continues to lead the nation in rushing (166.4 YPG) and is second in all-purpose yards (183.4 YPG). No one has scored more TDs (18) and he leads the nation in scoring as well (13.5 PPG). James has now topped 100 yards in 16 of 19 games since becoming Oregon's "featured" back, including three of 200-plus yards (all this year). James ran for 227 yards on 14 carries with two TDs in Oregon's easy 69-0 win over Portland State back on September 18. Only one other Pac 10 player has run for 200 or more yards on as few attempts since 2004 and that was Jahvid Best of Cal in '08. He then ran for a career-high 257 yards (on 31 carries) and scored three TDs in Oregon's October 2 win over Stanford (52-31), marking the second-most rushing yards in Oregon history (Onterrio Smith ran for 285 yards in 2001 vs Washington St). Oregon, like Auburn, controls its own fate. Win out and the Ducks are in the national championship game. James' path to the Heisman is a little more difficult. He'll need Newton to stumble plus also must be wary of Moore making a late-season push from behind. James' season stats are: 196 carries for 1,331 yards (6.8 YPC) 17 TDs / 8 catches for 138 yards (17.3 YPC) 1 TD.
3) KELLEN MOORE (Boise State) Last Week: 3. Boise State beat La Tech 49-20 back on October 26 (a Tuesday night), as Moore was precise and efficient as usual, going 20-of-28 for 298 yards and TDs in leading the Broncos to 468 total yards. Boise State extended the FBS' longest active win streak to 22 games (33 regular-season games) this past Saturday, routing a Hawaii team 42-7 (Rainbows entered on a six-game winning streak). Moore and the Boise State defense shared "game balls." Moore threw for a career-high 507 yards (30-of-37) with three TDs but did throw two interceptions (he now has three in his last two games, as many as he threw all of last year!). He led a no-huddle offense that rolled up a school-record 737 total yards and during one stretch in the first half, he completed 19 straight passes. His three TDs gave him 85 for his career, breaking another school mark plus his 83-yard TD pass in the third quarter was a career-long. Meanwhile, Hawaii QB Bryant Moniz came in averaging 360 YPG through the air and leading an offense averaging 39 PPG. However, the Warriors managed only 196 total yards, their lowest offensive output in 12 years. They had just 11 FDs, never advanced into the red zone, were held to 78 yards rushing plus Moniz went 17-of-28 for 127 yards while getting sacked seven times. Does Moore have a real shot to win the Heisman? Probably not and if are to believe the people on ESPN's BCS Countdown show, the Broncos could run their winning streak to 26 straight games (giving them a 38-1 record over the last three years), yet still get denied a chance to play in any BCS bowl, no less the title game (that seems wrong on ANY level). However, let's not get ahead of ourselves. Moore's now 34-1 as the team's starting QB, with 60 TDs and just seven INTs during the team's 22-game winning streak. His career-best effort vs Hawaii is just his eighth, career 300-yard game. This guy won't set many records, other than ones which involve his team winning. His QB rating of 192.4 remains the top mark in the nation. Moore's season stats are: 155-of-216 for 2,372 yards (71.8 percent) 21 TDs 4 INTs / 1 TD catch.
4) TERRELLE PRYOR (Ohio State) Last Week: 4. The Buckeyes were idle this past Saturday but Pryor's Heisman 'push' will begin this coming weekend. Ohio State hosts Penn State on November 13, then plays play at Iowa the following Saturday, before wrapping up the season at home vs the Wolverines on November 27. Pryor did very little and looked listless for most of Ohio State's 31-18 loss at Wisconsin on October 16. Pryor would finish 14-of-28 for 156 yards in the air (0 TDs / 1 INT) and rush for 56 yards on 18 carries without scoring. The game was Ohio State's toughest 'test' to-date and Pryor 'failed' as did the rest of his teammates. However, Pryor and the Buckeyes responded well back at home vs Purdue the following Saturday, steamrolling Purdue 49-0. Pryor threw for three scores, as Ohio State earned some redemption for a stunning 26-18 upset a year ago at Purdue and for the previous week's defeat at Wisconsin. Pryor ran just four times (lost two yards) but completed 16-of-22 for 270 yards (second-highest total this year) with three TDs and two INTs. The Buckeyes then routed Minnesota 52-10 on the road the following week. Pryor was a 'surgical' 18-of-22 (81.8 percent) for 222 yards with two TDs and one interception. He added 55 yards rushing plus another TD on five carries. The win upped Pryor's record to 27-5 as Ohio State's starting QB plus he joined Art Schlichter and Bobby Hoying as the only Buckeyes with at least 7,000 yards of offense in their career. Pryor also has 50 career TD passes, tying Schlichter for fourth-most in school history. His season stats are: 152-of-225 for 1,997 yards (67.6 percent) 20 TDs 7 INTs / 84 carries for 463 yards (5.5 YPC) 4 TDs / one TD catch.
5) DENARD ROBINSON (Michigan) Last Week: 5. I've been cautious about overreacting to Denard Robinson's 'explosion' onto the CFB 'landscape' to open the 2010 season but it's hard to deny what this guy has accomplished in 2010. Can you imagine if the Michigan defense could actually stop anyone? Michigan lost 41-31 at Penn State on October 30, as Robinson was a virtual one-man gang. He ran for 191 yards and three TDs (27 carries), while throwing for 190 yards (11-of-23) and another score (a 60-yard pass to TE Kevin Koger) Michigan snapped its three-game losing streak this past Saturday, with a three-overtime 67-65 win over Illinois. The 132 points made it the highest-scoring game of the year in major college football, in the history of the Big 10 and also in the 131-year history of Michigan football. Denard Robinson was 10-of-20 for a career-high 305 yards with three TDs and two interceptions plus ran for 62 yards (zero TDs) but didn't play after the third quarter. "He was dizzy and had a headache," Rodriguez said. He's made opponents dizzy and given them headaches all season. He leads the nation in total offense (351.4 YPG), ranks second to James in rushing yards (149.9) and hast still yet to fumble on 183 rushing attempts. "Shoelace" has topped 300 yards of offense in six of nine games and topped 100 yards rushing in seven of nine. He should sue the Michigan defense for lack of support this year. Michigan is at Purdue this coming Saturday. His season stats are: 118-of-186 for 1,814 yards (67.8 percent) 13 TDs and 7 INTs / 183 carries for 1,349 yards (7.4 YPC) 12 TDs.
My next Heisman update will be Monday, November, 15.