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Heisman Trophy Top-10

   by Larry Ness - 10/03/2005

(Monday, October 3)

Matt Leinart failed to throw a TD pass for just the SECOND time in his 30-game career at USC and for the second straight week the Trojans needed a big second-half comeback. The Trojans outscored the Sun Devils 35-7 in the game's second half of their 38-28 win but it was USC's running game, that led the way. However, Reggie Bush hardly had the stage all to himself in Tempe, as LenDale White actually gained more yards. Vince Young of Texas moved up in this week's poll, as he played his best game of the year. However, the legitimacy of Young's candidacy hinges on his play (and a Texas win) in Dallas this coming Saturday versus Oklahoma. Leak and Maroney had poor games last week and while Stanton had a decent game, his team's loss to Michigan (again!), hurt. My latest Heisman update follows:

1)MATT LEINART (USC) Last Week: 1. The Trojans struggled last Saturday during the first half for the second straight week. This past week was much worse than the week before, as they trailed Arizona State 21-3 at the half, as opposed to being down just 13-10 at Oregon two weeks ago. Either way, USC DOMINATED the second half again, rushing for almost 300 yards in the half, while outscoring the Sun Devils 35-7 for a 38-28 win. Leinart directed scoring drives of 80, 64, 89, 80 and 51 yards in the second half but for just the second time in his 30 career starts, did not throw a TD pass (also against UCLA in last year's season-ender). He did score his second rushing TD of the year (giving USC a 24-21 lead) and while he wasn't intercepted, finished with 258 yards passing (first time under 300 yards TY) while completing 23-of-39 passes. For the first time this season, it was USC's running game not Leinart's passing, that was the difference-maker. That being said, he's now led USC to a school-record 26 straight wins, including 12 straight on the road (also a school record). At 29-1 as a starter, he's thrown 81 TD passes while being intercepted just 17 times and currently ranks fourth in the nation in passing efficiency. His season stats are: 82-of-126 65.1 1286 yards 10 TDs 2 INTs / 2 rush TDs.

2) REGGIE BUSH (USC) Last Week: 2. Once again Reggie was FABULOUS last Saturday, even out-shining his more famous teammate, Matt Leinart. However, despite topping 100 yards for the third consecutive game (he owned just two career 100-yard games entering '05) with 158 yards on 17 carries (including TD runs of 24 and 34 yards), Bush had just the second-best day among USC running back's. LenDale White, USC's leading rusher last year, ran 19 times for a career-high 197 yards and matched Bush with TD runs of 32 and 46 yards! Bush's SPECTACULAR 34-yard TD run gave USC a 31-28 lead with 3:44 left and White's 46-yard run with 2:22 left, sealed the win. As I said last week, Bush is even better than he was last year but I still believe he will be hard-pressed to overtake Leinart in the hearts and minds of Heisman voters. However, he ABSOLUTELY gained ground last Saturday. His season stats are: 57 carries 491 yards 8.6 YPC / 11 catches 175 yards 15.9 YPC 2 TDs.

3) VINCE YOUNG (Texas) Last Week: 6. Vince Young had his best statistical game of the year, as Texas captured its 11th straight win last Saturday, 51-20 at Missouri. Leading just 14-13 after the first quarter, Texas ripped off 37 unanswered points before Missouri added a late score. Young (now 21-2 as a starter) completed 15-of-22 passes for 236 yards with two TDs and one interception. He also ran for 108 yards on 13 carries and his 33-yard TD run in the first quarter gave him 27 rushing TDs in his career, a new Texas record for QBs. It was his EIGHTH career 100-yard effort (team is 7-1), the most memorable of which was his 192-yard four-TD effort in last year's Rose Bowl, the game that made him such a popular Heisman choice (behind Leinart and Bush) entering this year. Any chance Young has at this year's Heisman depends on how well he plays this coming Saturday in Dallas. The Longhorns have lost five straight times to Oklahoma, including 12-0 and 65-13 the last two years. His season stats are: 54-of-82 65.9 780 yards 7 TDs 5 INTs / 48 carries 310 yards 6.5 YPC 2 TDs.

4) DREW STANTON (Michigan State) Last Week: 5. MSU entered its game with Michigan favored and ranked (while Michigan was unranked) for the first time since 1968! Maybe that was too much to overcome? Anyway, Michigan jumped out to a 14-0 lead but behind Stanton-led TD drives of 80, 78 and 67 yards, the Spartans tied the game at 21-all in the late second quarter. However, Stanton was unable to get the Spartans' offense into the end zone in the game's second half (only MSU TD was on a 74-yard fumble return) and for the fourth straight year (and second-straight in OT!), MSU fell to Michigan, 34-31. Stanton completed 20-of-30 passes for 282 yards with one TD and one interception (also had a rush TD) but it was not his best effort. It's been a great year so far for Stanton (he leads the nation with a QB rating of 190.1) and currently, he's as good a choice as anyone, behind Leinart, Bush and Young. His season stats are: 99-of-138 71.7 1466 yards 14 TDs 3 INTs / 42 carries 123 yards 2.9 YPC 2 rush TDs.
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5) LAURENCE MARONEY (Minnesota) Last Week: 3. Minnesota entered its game with Penn State ranked as the nation's number-one rushing offense and RB Maroney was the nation's top individual rusher, averaging 174.5 YPG. However, it was the Penn State's rushing game that won the day, as the Nittany Lions jumped out to a 20-0 lead and led 20-7 at the half, holding Maroney to just 14 yards. Penn State went on to win 44-14, rushing for 364 yards, as the Penn State defense held Maroney to just 48 yards in 16 attempts, breaking his string of six straight 100-yard games while holding him to his lowest rushing total in 21 games (all the way back to Minnesota's eighth game of the 2003 season). I won't give up on Maroney as a top-five guy just yet but Minnesota is famous for its collapses in recent years (after fast starts), so I'll watch closely. Maroney is still the nation's second-leading rusher (149.2 PPG) and has run for better than 100 yards 17 times in his career, with Minnesota going 15-2. His season stats are: 129 carries 746 yards 5.8 YPC 6 TDs / 11 catches 131 yards 11.9 YPC 1 TD.

6) BRADY QUINN (Notre Dame) Last Week: NR. Charlie Weis left one Brady in New England (Tom) but still has another at the QB position in his new job at Notre Dame (Quinn). The turnaround at Notre Dame has been quick and dramatic! Brady Quinn was somewhat overshadowed by Drew Stanton back on 9/17 when the Spartans beat the Irish 44-41 in OT, despite setting a Notre Dame single-game record with five TD passes and throwing for a career-high 487 yards. Quinn continues to thrive in Charlie Weis' new system and last Saturday night at West Lafayette, torched the Boilermakers for 440 yards and three TD passes in Notre Dame's 49-28 win. Quinn was 20-of-23 for 283 yards at the half and now owns three straight 300-yard games (two are more than 400), something never done before by an Irish QB. In fact, no Notre Dame QB has ever had two 300-yard games in a single season. Quinn has tied the all-time Notre Dame record of 10 consecutive games with at least one TD pass, previously set by John Hurate in 1964. Quinn is already No. 3 in career passing yards at Notre Dame with 6038 and barring injury will become the school's all-time leading passer by year's end (currently No. 1 is Ron Powlus with 7602). Notre Dame has a bye this week but will host USC on October 15, a team that's beaten them three straight years by exactly 31 points. We will see what we will see! His season stats are: 124-of-190 65.3 1621 yards 13 TDs 3 INTs / 27 carries 77 yards 2.9 0 TDs.

7) BRIAN CALHOUN (Wisconsin) Last Week: 8. Calhoun was not the star last Saturday as Wisconsin beat Indiana 41-24 for the school's 10th straight home win. It mark's the school's longest home winning streak since the Badgers won 25 straight from 1900-03! While Calhoun was topping 100 yards for the fourth time in five games this year (26-101), WR Brandon Williams caught two TDs plus ran back a punt for another score. Calhoun did score his 10th TD this year in the game and now leads the nation in both total TDs and rushing TDs (10). He's third in rushing, averaging 145.4 YPG and third in scoring at 12.0 PPG. Not a bad way start to his career at Wisconsin, after sitting out last year, having transferred from Colorado. His season stats are: 153 carries 727 yards 4.8 YPC 10 TDs / 15 catches 167 yards 11.1 YPC 0 TDs.

8) CHRIS LEAK (Florida) Last Week: 4. Chris Leak was supposed to thrive in Urban Meyer's spread-offense but he's not as skilled a runner as Alex Smith and against Florida's toughest competition this year, Leak has struggled. Back on 9/17, Leak failed to throw a TD pass for the first time in a game he had started, when the Gators beat the Vols, 16-7. Florida didn't get into the end zone during the entire second half of that game and just this past Saturday at Alabama, the Gators didn't get into the end zone at all, losing 31-3! It was a first for a Meyer-coached team and Florida hadn't been held without a TD in a game since 1992! Leak finished the game 16-of-37 for 187 yards with no TDs and two interceptions. He entered the game without an interception on the season and the first of his two versus Alabama ended a streak of 117 attempts without a 'pick'. Leak has also been sacked 15 times on the year, a reason he has just one net yard rushing on the season. His season stats are: 97-of-151 64.2 1224 yards 9 TDs 2 INTs / 2 rush TDs.

9) ADRIAN PETERSON (Oklahoma) Last Week: 9. Peterson looked well on his way to a big day versus the Wildcats last Saturday when he ripped off a 22-yard TD run for the game's first score. However, it wasn't to be, as he left the game in the early second quarter and never returned in Oklahoma's 43-21 rout of Kansas State. Peterson's final tally for the game was eight carries for 51 yards and that one TD. So far, the player who set the nation 'on fire' last year by opening his career with nine straight 100-yard games and finished with 1925 yards and 15 TDs, is seemingly going nowhere fast. Peterson is expected to play this week against Texas and if he's healthy, maybe he can jump-start his season with a big game. While becoming the first freshman to ever finish second in the Heisman voting last year, Peterson topped 100 yards in 11 of his 13 games, with one of his three 200-yard efforts coming against Texas (225 yards!). He either comes up big this Saturday, or becomes a footnote in this year's Heisman story. His season stats are: 85 carries 392 yards 4.6 YPC 6 TDs / 8 catches 42 yards 5.3 YPC 0 TDs.

10) DEANGELO WILLIAMS (Memphis) Last week: NR. Williams fills my 10th-spot and he could have easily been included for career accomplishments alone. Williams ran for 1430 yards and 10 TDs in 2003 and had 1948 yards and 22 TDs last year. He was held to just 85 yards in the Tigers' season-opening loss to Ole Miss but has since topped 200 yards in THREE straight games. In Memphis' 27-20 win over then-unbeaten UTEP, Williams' three-yard TD run with 50 seconds remaining was the game-winner. He finished with 236 yards and two TDs on 35 carries, giving him 27 career 100-yard games, including SEVEN of more than 200 yards. He now leads the nation in rushing, averaging 187.3 YPG. This guy is a player but winning a Heisman while playing for Memphis (just 2-2 so far) would be the upset of the century. His season stats are: 109 carries 749 yards 6.9 YPC 8 TDs / 7 catches 21 yards 3.0 YPC 0 TDs.

DROPPED OUT:

7) SAM KELLER (Arizona State) Keller has had a remarkable run in a career that includes just six starts but he was on the wrong side of last Saturday's great second-half comeback by USC and finished the game with FIVE interceptions.

10) JAY CUTLER (Vanderbilt) Cutler drove the 'Dores all the way from their own one-yard line in the game's final minutes, only to see a last-second 36-yard field goal attempt get BLOCKED by Middle Tennessee State, as the Blue Raiders won 17-15. The loss prevented Vanderbilt from starting 5-0 for the first time since WWII.

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