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by Larry Ness - 09/19/2005
(Monday, September 19)
Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush, USC's two-headed monster, are in a two-man race for this year's Heisman. While many want to inject Texas QB Vince Young into the running, USC's total dominance so far makes Young nothing more than a spectator at this point. As for Oklahoma sophomore Adrian Peterson, who last year became the first freshman to ever finish second in the Heisman balloting, his chances (like Elvis), have left the building! Larry's latest Heisman top-10 follows.
1) MATT LEINART (USC) Last Week:1. Leinart's lucky he isn't coached by Jim Tressel or Phil Fulmer, as those 'geniuses' would probably be wondering if maybe John David Booty should be getting more time at the QB position. USC had the ball for just 1:32 of the first quarter in last Saturday's game versus Arkansas for a total of just eight plays. However, FOUR of those plays went for TDs as USC went on to crush the Razorbacks, 70-17. USC has now won 24 straight games, as well as 22 straight at home. Leinart finished the game 18-of-24 for 381 yards with four TDs and no interceptions. For good measure, he also ran for his first TD in 2005. Leinart seems a 'lock' for this year's Heisman but there is still a long way to go. Now 27-1 as a starter, he's got a 78-16 TD-to-interception ratio in his career, with a 70-10 ratio during the team's 24-game winning streak. His 78 career TD passes moves him past John Elway (77) into second place on the Pac-10's all-time list, leaving him behind only ASU's Andrew Walter (85). His season stats are: 36-of-48 75.0 percent 713 yards 7 TDs 1 INT / 1 Rush TD.
2) REGGIE BUSH (USC) Last Week: 2. The first time Reggie touched the ball against Arkansas, he took it for another one of his patented "highlight reel" TD runs (76 yards). His second 'touch' of the game came on the end of a 29-yard scoring strike from QB Matt Leinart. Therein lies Bush's dilemma. He may be college football's most exciting player but he plays on the same team as its "Golden Boy." Bush finished fifth in last year's balloting and may finish as high as second this year but out-distancing his more famous teammate is a long-shot, at best. Bush finished with eight carries for 125 yards (just the 3rd 100-yard game of his career), plus had three catches for 70 yards with one TD. His season stats are: 20 carries 211 yards 10.6 YPC 3 TDs / 7 catches 128 yards 18.3 YPC 1 TD.
3) VINCE YOUNG (Texas) Last Week: 3. Young, now 20-2 as a starter, had a 'quiet' game as Texas beat Rice 51-10, for the 38th time in the last 39 meetings. True freshman RB Jamaal Charles stole the spotlight, rushing for 189 yards and three TDs in a game the Longhorns led at the half, 40-0. Young completed just 8-of-14 for 101 yards (zero TDs and one interception), while rushing eight times for 77 yards with 51 of those yards coming on a scramble out of his own end zone that jump-started a 99-yard TD drive. Young's a 'sexy' pick among many for this year's award but I'm not quite as sold as others. However, after Leinart and Bush, he's as good a choice as anyone at the No. 3 spot. His season stats are: 39-of-60 65.0 percent 544 yards 5 TDs 4 INTs / 35 carries 202 yards 5.8 YPC 1 TD.
4) LAURENCE MARONEY (Minnesota) Last Week: 6. The top-three players on this list are head-and-shoulders in front of any of the other so-called Heisman contenders. Maroney is off to a great start with three straight 100-yard games in 2005, including a career-best 203-yard effort in the season opener but as always with the Gophers, we're all expecting that late-season collapse. However, for now, let's give Maroney his due. He opened the scoring in last Saturday's game against Florida Atlantic with a 38-yard TD run and then scored the game's second TD on a 37-yard reception, the first TD catch of his career. He finished with 145 yards (his 16th career 100-yard game) on 20 carries with two TD runs in Minnesota's 46-7 win. He also had three catches for 55 yards, including his 37-yard TD catch. His season stats are: 67 carries 481 yards 7.2 YPC 6 TDs / 4 catches 69 yards 17.3 YPC 1 TD.
5) CHRIS LEAK (Florida) Last Week: 5. For the first time in Leak's career, he failed to throw a TD pass in a game in which he was the starting QB, as Florida beat Tennessee Saturday night, 16-7. The week before, Leak had completed a school-record 17 consecutive passes but against the Vols' tough defense, the going was much tougher. However, Florida's big win moves the Gators to fifth in the AP poll and puts the team in great shape to win the SEC East (see their game in Jacksonville versus Georgia on 10/29). While Leak couldn't get his team in the end zone after the first quarter, he didn't make any big mistakes, finishing 17-of-26 for 178 yards with no TDs and no interceptions. He's had a problem with sacks though, as the five Tennessee got against him means he's been sacked 10 times in three games (why he's still in negative rushing yards for the season). His season stats are: 56-of-82 68.3 percent 718 yards 5 TDs 0 INTs / 2 Rush TDs.
6) DREW STANTON (Michigan State) Last Week: 8. I had Stanton in my top-10 last week and he justified my high ranking, by leading the Spartans to a 44-41 overtime win in South Bend. The Stanton-led Spartans led 38-17 before ND tied it at 38-all, sending the game into OT. Stanton completed 16-of-27 passes for 327 yards with three TDs and one interception. A dangerous runner, who twice topped 100 yards in a game in 2004, also ran for 48 yards in 14 carries with a TD. More importantly, it was his great 'pitch' to Jason Teague in OT that opened the way for Teague's game-winning TD run. Stanton led the Spartans to 488 yards of offense on Saturday and has MSU at fourth in the nation in total offense, averaging almost 560 YPG. His season stats are: 59-of-82 72.0 percent 925 yards 8 TDs 2 INTs / 29 carries 111 yards 3.8 YPC 1 TD.
7) OMAR JACOBS (Bowling Green) Last Week: 7. The Falcons won at Ball State two weeks ago, 40-31. Considering the Cardinals still had eight players on suspension and that they had 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 on 9/3 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 topped 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! BG was off last Saturday but will play Wednesday night in Boise against a Bronco team that has opened 0-2 but has won a nation-best 25 straight games at home. His season stats are: 57-of-94 60.6 percent 886 yards 10 TDs 2 INTs.
8) SAM KELLER (Arizona State) Last Week: 9. Keller followed his 461-yard four-TD performance against LSU with an ever better one versus Northwestern this past Saturday night. The Sun Devils lost a heartbreaker 35-31 to the Tigers the week before (despite a 560-yard effort) but rolled up 532 yards by the end of the first half versus Northwestern and led, 38-14. The final score was 52-21, as Keller finished 20-of-31 for 409 yards with four TDs and no interceptions. The team finished with a school-record 773 yards and is currently 2nd in the nation in total offense (630.7 YPG) and 5th in scoring (48.7 PPG). Keller has now thrown for 1488 yards with 15 TDs and just two interceptions in four career starts (includes TY and LY's 27-23 win over Purdue). His season stats are: 69-of-111 62.2 percent 1078 yards 12 TDs 2 INTs.
9) ADRIAN PETERSON (Oklahoma) Last Week: 4. Last year's Freshman of the Year is certainly suffering from a "sophomore slump." He did rush for 220 yards against Tulsa on 9/10 but opened the year with a lackluster 63-yard effort in the TCU loss (9/3) and then this past week in the Rose Bowl versus UCLA, Peterson was held to a career-low 58 yards (on 23 carries) with one TD in UCLA's 41-24 win. Despite the fact that Oklahoma QB Bomar completed 20-of-29 for 241 yards, Peterson's longest run was just 11 yards. His Heisman chances have dropped as quickly as Kyle Orton's did last year, when Purdue fell back-to-back weeks against Wisconsin and Michigan. His season stats are: 77 carries 341 yards 4.4 YPC 5 TDs / 8 catches 42 yards 5.3 YPC 0 TDs.
10) KELLEN CLEMENS (Oregon) Last Week: NR. Clemens has gotten off to a great start and Oregon is 3-0. The Ducks host No. 1 USC this Saturday and we'll find out just how good both Clemens and the Ducks really are. Clemens was 28-of-38 for 332 yards with four TDs and no interceptions (plus ran 13 times for 48 yards!) in Oregon's exciting 37-34 win this past Saturday over No. 23 Fresno State. It was his second 300-yard game this year and the fifth of his career. His season stats are: 82-of-125 65.6 percent 955 yards 8 TDs 0 INTs / 30 carries 137 yards 4.6 YPC 0 TDs.
10) CHARLIE WHITEHURST (Clemson). Sorry Charlie, only the best tuna! One could look at the fact Whitehurst passed for 288 yards with two TDs in bringing the Tigers back from a 20-10 deficit to force OT versus Miami, before seeing his team lose 36-30 (3 OTs) but NOT me. Rather, I remember him missing a wide open receiver for what would have been the game-winning TD in the game's final 30 seconds and his game-ending (overthrown) interception in the third overtime period.