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Heisman Trophy Top-10

   by Larry Ness - 09/05/2005

Matt Leinart began defense of his Heisman with a Leinart-like performance in USC's 63-17 win over Hawaii. Leinart not only has a great chance to become just the second-ever back-to-back winner of the Heisman (see Archie Griffin of Ohio State in 1974-75) but his Trojans sure look as if they are fully capable of becoming the first team in modern college football history to capture three consecutive national championships. Larry's first Heisman Trophy Top-10 Poll follows:

(Monday, September 5)

1) MATT LEINART (USC) USC's offense didn't get on to the field until there was just over a minute to go in the first quarter but the Trojans still managed to score 63 points, the most by a USC team since 1989. The 46-point margin of victory (63-17) was the second-biggest in the Carroll era. As for the Leinart era, last year's Heisman winner completed 18-of-24 passes for 332 yards with three TDs and one interception. He's now 26-1 as a starter, including the last 23 in a row. Both of his wide receivers caught seven passes, Jarrett grabbing three TDs and Smith accounting for 185 yards in receptions. His three TD passes gives him at least one TD pass in 26 of his 27 career starts (failed in last year's UCLA game). His TD-to-INT ratio is 66-10 during the team's current win streak and it's 74-16 for his career. During the game, Leinart passed Carson Palmer (72) for the most career TD passes in Trojan history. Don't look now Archie, but Matt's closing ground fast!

2) REGGIE BUSH (USC) You'll get little argument from me that Reggie Bush is the nation's most versatile and exciting player but outshining his more famous teammate this year, will be very difficult. However, off last Saturday's game, Carroll did seem to use Bush in more of a lead role. Backfield-mate LenDale White, USC's leading rusher last year with 1103 yards, did a lot of watching from the sideline. Bush finished with 86 yards rushing on 12 carries with two TDs (one a 41-yarder). He also caught four passes for 58 yards.

3) VINCE YOUNG (Texas) Young kept up his momentum from last year's amazing Rose Bowl performance (372 total yards, four TD runs and a TD pass), as No. 2 Texas routed UL-Lafayette 60-3. Young was 13-of-17 for 173 yards with three TD passes in the first half (Texas led 39-3). However, he attempted just two passes in the second half, getting intercepted and throwing an incompletion. He did add a third quarter TD run, to finish with 49 yards rushing on seven carries. The rushing TD was the 26th of his career, tying Marty Akins for the most in school-history by a QB. I'm not sure I'm sold on Young, as over his final seven regular season games last year, he had just three TD passes and eight interceptions. He did however, complete 64.2 percent of his passes and top 100 yards rushing three times, in his last five games. Then of course, came the Rose Bowl. A trip to Columbus this Saturday, will tell us a lot.

4) CHRIS LEAK (Florida) Leak is playing for the hottest head coaching commodity in the college game, in Urban Meyer (and that doesn't hurt his Heisman chances). Meyer's latest "Urban Renewal" began with a 32-14 win over Wyoming this past weekend but the Gator faithful shouldn't get too excited. After all, the Cowboys are just 3-26 on the road since 2000! Leak however, looked great. Coming off a 2004 season in which he passed for over 3000 yards, completed nearly 60 percent of his passes and had a TD-to-INT ratio of 29-12, Leak got his 2005 season off to a flying start. He finished the game with 26 completions in 34 attempts for 320 yards. He threw three TDs (all to Chad Jackson, who also scored on a five-yard run) and wasn't intercepted (he was however sacked four times?). During the game, he had a stretch in which he completed 17 consecutive passes, breaking the school record of 16 that was held by some guy named Spurrier.

5) ADRIAN PETERSON (Oklahoma) No player fell harder or further last Saturday. Peterson had 11 100-yard games last year, while rushing for 1925 yards. It was the most prolific season by a freshman RB since Herschel Walker led Georgia to the national title in 1980. Peterson finished second in the Heisman voting last year, the first freshman to do so. However, his sophomore season has begun on a disastrous note. He gained just five yards rushing (on eight carries) in the first half on Saturday, finishing the game with 63 yards on 22 attempts. He did score Oklahoma's lone TD but the Sooners' 17-10 loss at home to TCU, ending a 19-game winning streak (all by double-digits!), dealt a terrible body blow to Peterson's Heisman hopes. We'll see if he and the Sooners can recover. You think he misses Jason White? Oklahoma's two QBs combined to 13-of-31 for 128 yards with an interception and three fumbles.

6) DJ SHOCKLEY (Georgia) Shockley leads off a surprising second-five to my top-10 list. After sitting behind David Greene at Georgia (Greene left with 42 wins, the most of any QB in NCAA history), Shockley was nothing short of brilliant on Saturday, as Georgia routed Boise State, 48-13. Shockley ran 14 yards for Clemson's first TD and finished with 85 yards for the game (even had a 23-yarder called back). Through the air, Shockley was 16-of-24 for 289 yards with five TD passes (tying Greene's single-game record) and no interceptions. Can he keep it up?

7) LAURENCE MARONEY (Minnesota) Maroney and Marion Barber III each topped 1000 yards last year for the Gophers but with Barber leaving early for the NFL, 2005 was seen a great opportunity for Maroney. He wasted little time capitalizing, taking his first carry 67 yards for a TD in a 41-10 win over Tulsa (Thursday night). He added another 73-yard TD run later in the first quarter and finished the game with a career-high 203 yards rushing (on 21 carries) with those two long TD runs. He opened last year with six consecutive 100-yard games on his way to 1348 yards, a 6.2 YPC average and 12 rushing TDs. Is he just warming up?

8) OMAR JACOBS (Bowling Green) Jacobs threw for 4002 yards last year and with 41 TD passes and only four interceptions, had the best single-season TD pass-to-interception ratio in NCAA history. He led the Falcons to a quick 20-7 lead over Wisconsin on Saturday with three TD passes but Bowling Green's defense couldn't hold the Badgers and Jacobs couldn't maintain his fast start. The game was tied at 35-all at the half, with Jacobs throwing for 305 yards and four TDs. However, he misfired on his first five attempts in the third quarter and BG was held to just one yard of offense in the quarter. BG lost the game 56-42, as Jacobs finished with a career-high 458 passing yards. He completed 30-of-51 passes with five TDs and one interception. Past MAC QBs Pennington, Leftwich and Roethlisberger were not able to win the Heisman, it's highly unlikely Jacobs will either.

9) BRAD SMITH (Missouri) Remember him? As a freshman, he passed for better than 2000 yards while rushing for more than 1000 yards (a rare double) and then almost did it again as a sophomore (fell 23 passing yards short). Then last year, Smith became more of a stay-in-the-pocket QB and ran for just 553 yards. Of a bigger concern, was Missouri's penchant for blowing leads, as the Tigers finished a disappointing 5-6. While Saturday's 44-17 win was only against Arkansas State, Smith's performance was special. He completed 29-of-37 passes (matching a single-game high for completions) for a career-high 317 yards, throwing four TDs without an interception. He also ran for 95 yards in 12 carries. Is he really back?

10) Brian Calhoun (Wisconsin) Why not reward Saturday's best performer with a spot in the top-10. While Brandon Williams' 85-yard KO return jump-started Wisconsin's comeback win over Bowling Green, it was the relentless running of Brian Calhoun that wore down the Falcons' defense and kept Omar Jacobs off the field. Calhoun, who sat out last year after transferring from Colorado, ran for 258 yards on 43 carries and tied a single-game school record with five rushing TDs.

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