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Heisman Trophy Top-10

   by Larry Ness - 09/12/2005

Monday, September 12

Matt Leinart, last year's Heisman winner and this year's early front-runner to repeat, had this past weekend off. Meanwhile, Texas QB Vince Young stated his case "under the lights" in Columbus, while last year's Heisman runner-up, Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson, got back in the Heisman race with a HUGE second half versus Tulsa. Like Leinart, Reggie Bush spent the week preparing for a home game with Arkansas on September 17, so this week's Heisman top-five looks fairly similar to last week's poll. All 10 are listed below in my latest poll.

1) MATT LEINART (USC) Last Week:1. USC will put its 23-game winning streak on the line this Saturday against Arkansas, as well as its 22-game home winning streak. Leinart is the odds-on favorite to become the second-ever two-time winner of the Heisman. He's 26-1 as a starter at QB with a TD-to-interception ratio of 74-16. His 74 career TD passes are a school record and he's thrown at least one TD pass in all but ONE of his 27 career games. During USC's 23-game winning streak, his TD-to-interception ratio is 66-10. Vince and Adrian who?. His season stats are: 18-of-24 75.0 percent with 3 TDs and 1 INT.

2) REGGIE BUSH (USC) Last Week: 2. Like Leinart, Bush had the week off. He finished fifth in last year's Heisman balloting and many feel he is the nation's most exciting player. I have no argument with that statement but I do think it's going to be very difficult for Bush to steal enough votes away from Leinart. Bush is a breath-taking performer and has the ability to turn any play into a TD but even though Carroll seems ready to use Bush more often this year, I don't see him overtaking his more accomplished teammate. His season stats are: 12 carries 86 yards 7.2 YPC 2 TDs / 4 catches 58 yards 14.5 YPC 0 TDs.

3) VINCE YOUNG (Texas) Last Week: 3. Much is being made of Young's performance last Saturday night in Columbus, as Texas beat Ohio State, 25-22. He looked very sharp in leading Texas to two quick scores and a 10-0 lead but he did little after that until late in the fourth quarter. He threw two interceptions in the game and if it wasn't for the great play of the Texas defense, which held Ohio State to three FGs after the Buckeyes forced three turnovers in Texas territory, Young wouldn't have had an opportunity for his late-game heroics. However, that's a "shoulda, coulda, woulda!" The fact remains that Young was very poised in Texas' game-winning drive and his 24-yard TD pass to Sweed with just 2:37 left was a beautifully thrown ball. For the game, Young was 18-of-29 for 270 yards with two TDs and two interceptions. He ran for 76 yards in 20 carries and is now 19-2 as a starter for the Longhorns. Young is building some great momentum off his fantastic Rose Bowl performance last January 1 but until he's able to beat Oklahoma (the teams meet on October 8 in Dallas), I'm reluctant to place him ahead of USC's "dynamic duo." His season stats are: 31-of-46 67.4 percent 443 yards 5 TDs 3 INTs / 27 carries 125 yards 4.6 YPC 1 TD.

4) ADRIAN PETERSON (Oklahoma) Last Week: 5. The Sooners seemed on the verge of opening the season 0-2 for the first time since 1996 last Saturday but Peterson single-handedly carried Oklahoma to a 31-15 win. Held to 40 yards rushing in the first half (Oklahoma led just 7-6), Peterson found his team down 9-7 in the third quarter. His second TD run of the game gave Oklahoma a 14-9 lead in the third quarter but late in the fourth quarter, the Sooners were clinging to a 17-15 lead. Peterson fumbled on a third-and-one play with just over three minutes remaining but the Sooners luckily recovered it. Then on fourth down, Peterson broke three tackles on a spectacular 41-yard TD run, that put the game away for the Sooners. With 180 yards rushing in the second half, Peterson finished with 220 yards on 32 carries with three TDs. The performance marked his 12th 100-yard game in 15 career games, as he topped the 200-yard mark for the fourth time. His season stats are: 54 carries 283 yards 5.2 YPC 4 TDs / 4 catches 24 yards 6.0 YPC 0 TDs.

5) CHRIS LEAK (Florida) Last Week: 4. As expected, the junior QB is thriving in Urban Meyer's system. True, the Gators haven't been tested yet, beating only Wyoming and Louisiana Tech in "the Swamp" but Leak sure looks as if he's going to have a great season. He followed a three-TD pass, 320-yard effort versus Wyoming on September 3 (which included an school record 17 straight completions) by completing 13-of-23 passes for 219 yards with two TD passes (no INTs) and two TD runs in Florida's 41-3 pasting of Louisiana Tech this Saturday. Although he attempted just eight passes in the first half, he had two short TD runs in the second half, along with an 80-yard TD pass to Chad Jackson. Leak and Meyer will get their first real test of the 2005 campaign this Saturday, when the 5th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers visit Gainesville. His season stats are: 39-of-56 69.6 percent 539 yards 5 TDs 0 INTs / 17 carries 5 yards 0.3 YPC 2 TDs.

6) LAURENCE MARONEY (Minnesota) Last Week: 7. The Golden Gophers had little trouble with Colorado State on Saturday opening a 49-10 lead in a 56-24 win. The Gophers rushed for 355 yards (in 55 carries) as a team, led by Laurence Maroney's 133 yards in 26 carries. Maroney had two TD runs of two and 32 yards in the second quarter, as he followed last week's career-high 203-yard game with another solid effort. He split time with Marion Barber III in 2004 but is Minnesota's "main guy" in 2005. With consecutive 100-yard games to open the 2005 season, Maroney now owns 15 in his career, getting five in 2003 and eight last year. His season stats are: 47 carries 336 yards 7.1 YPC 4 TDs / 1 catch 14 yards 14.0 YPC 0 TDs.

7) OMAR JACOBS (Bowling Green) Last Week: 8. The Falcons won at Ball State this past Saturday, 40-31. Considering the Cardinals still had eight players on suspension and that they lost 56-0 the previous week at Iowa, the Falcons' win was somewhat less than impressive. However, don't blame QB Omar Jacobs. Jacobs, topped 400 yards passing and threw five TD passes for the second consecutive Saturday (did it last week at Wisconsin). He finished 27-of-43 for 428 yards with five TDs and one interception. It marks the third time he's topped 400 yards in a game and the eighth straight time he's tooped 300 yards (also over 300 yards in 10 of his last 11). Jacobs set an NCAA single-season record last year with a best-ever 41-4 TD-to-interception ratio. His biggest problem is, players from the MAC just DON'T win the Heisman! His season stats are: 57-of-94 60.6 percent 886 yards 10 TDs 2 INTs.

8) DREW STANTON (Michigan State) Last Week: NR. A QB from the state of Michigan was expected to be a Heisman candidate this year but his name was Chad Henne of Michigan, not Michigan's State's Drew Stanton. While Henne was dreadful in Saturday's home loss to Notre Dame, MSU's Stanton had his second straight outstanding performance. The Spartans scored on their first four possessions against Hawaii to take a 28-0 lead and won 42-14. Stanton was 10-of-13 for 182 yards with two TDs in those first four drives and finished 21-of-26 for 301 yards with three TDs and no interceptions for the game. Last week, he was 22-of-29 for 297 yards with two TDs and one interception against Kent State. Stanton hasn't shown it yet this year but he's a very dangerous runner, who twice topped 100 yards in a game last season. His season stats are: 43-of-55 78.2% 598 yards 5 TDs 1 INT / 15 carries 63 yards 4.2 YPC 0 TDs.

9) SAM KELLER (Arizona State) Last Week: NR. ASU once again failed to win a "big" game, as LSU's JaMarcus Russell gave the Tigers a 35-31 win when he connected on a 39-yard TD pass on a desperation 4th-and-10 play! However, the Sun Devil faithful can't blame ASU QB Sam Keller. After LSU turned the game around with consecutive TDs on blocked kick returns, Keller twice gave ASU the lead, leading TD drives of 75 and 80 yards. Both drives ended with Keller TD passes to Ainsworth. However, he couldn't get LSU in the end zone after Russeell's 'back-breaker'! Keller made a name for himself with a 370-yard three-TD performance in ASU's 27-23 Sun Bowl win last year over Purdue, while filling in for the injured Andrew Walter. He's the number-one guy this year and finished Saturday night's game 35-of-56 for 469 yards with four TDs and no interceptions. His season stats are: 49-of-80 61.3 percent 669 yards 8 TDs 2 INTs.

10) CHARLIE WHITEHURST (Clemson) Last Week: NR. Whitehurst wasn't around in the fourth quarter on September 3 (out with a slight concussion) as Clemson edged Texas A&M on a last-second FG, 25-24. He was however, around for Clemson's latest 4th-quarter comeback last Saturday. Trailing by 10 points, Whitehurst took the team 86 yards in 5 plays, capping the drive with a 51-yard scoring toss. After a Maryland punt, he then led the game-winning drive (six plays for 61 yards), as Clemson is off to a 2-0 start after its 28-24 win at College Park. He finished the game going 18-of-22 for 178 yards with two TDs and no interceptions. Whitehurst was supposed to be a Heisman contender last year but he completed barely 50 percent of his passes and had a TD-to-INT ratio of just 7-17. Maybe all the experts were just a year early? His season stats are: 32-of-41 78.0 percent 363 yards 2 TDs 0 INTs.

DROPPED OUT:

6) DJ SHOCKLEY (Georgia) His "15 minutes of fame" lasted just one game, as he followed his opening week performance of five TD passes and a TD run by going 8-of-17 for 112 yards with no TDs and two INTs in Georgia's 17-15 win over South Carolina.

9) Brad Smith (Missouri) Smith passed for 248 yards (1 TD and two INTs) plus rushed for 165 yards with three TDs but Missouri lost at home to New Mexico, 45-35!

10) Brian Calhoun (Wisconsin) The Badgers won 65-0 over Temple but Calhoun, who had 258 yards rushing and a school-record five TDs against Bowling Green on September 3, rushed for just 42 yards on 11 carries with a one-yard TD run.

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