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Heisman Tophy Top-10

   by Larry Ness - 10/10/2005

Monday, October 10

Reggie Bush knew that in order to win the 2005 Heisman, he would have to get past his own teammate, QB Matt Leinart (the 2004 winner). However, over the last three weeks, Bush has not only had to share headlines with Leinart but also RB LenDale White, as for the first time in USC history, two teammates have put together three consecutive 100-yard games. As for Leinart, he led USC on SIX TD drives of 80 yards or better in last Saturday's win while throwing for 360 yards. Down in the Lone Star state, Texas Vince Young led the No. 2 Longhorns past Oklahoma for the first time since 1999 (45-12), keeping his long-shot Heisman hopes alive. My entire top-10 is as follows.

1) MATT LEINART (USC) Last week: 1. Once again USC had some trouble opening things up, leading Arizona just 14-7 at the half. It was still just 28-21 USC through three quarters but the Trojans eventually won, 42-21. However, the score was not indicative of the way the game was played. USC out-gained the Wildcats 724-245 in yards and 39-12 in FDs! USC has won 27 straight games, 18 straight in the Pac-10 and has a 23-game home winning streak. Leinart topped 300 yards for the fourth time in five games this year, finishing 26-of-40 for 360 with two TDs and one interception. As mentioned at the top, he led SIX scoring drives of 80 yards or longer, two that traveled 96 yards. Leinart is now 30-1 as a starter, with a TD-to-interception ratio of 83-18. He's closing in on Andrew Walter's Pac-10 record of 85 TD passes and remains a solid-favorite to join Archie Griffin as college football's second two-time Heisman winner. Leinart and Co. have a major showdown at South Bend this Saturday when they play the ninth-ranked Irish. His season stats are: 108-of-166 65.1 1646 yards 12 TDs 3 INTs / 2 rush TDs.

2) REGGIE BUSH (USC) Last Week: 2. Bush suffered a mild sprain of his right knee in the first quarter against Arizona and spent good parts of the game watching teammate LenDale White (last year's team leader in rushing) top 100 yards for the third straight game, while scoring a career-high four TDs. Bush did play enough to top the 100-yard mark himself, gaining 110 yards in just 14 carries. Most of those yards came on a 65-yard run in which Bush was caught from behind, so you KNOW his knee must have been bothering him a little. It was the fourth straight game of more than 100 yards rushing for Bush, an impressive total considering he had just two 100-yard rushing games last year while being called college football's most exciting, explosive and dangerous player. Early reports are that his knee is fine and like Leinart, while have a major 'stage' this Saturday at South Bend. His season stats are: 71 carries 601 yards 8.5 YPC 6 TDs / 13 catches 191 yards 14.7 YPC 2 TDs.

3) VINCE YOUNG (Texas) Last Week: 3 The Longhorns have lived in the shadow of the Sooners for most of the Bob Stoops era but ended a five-game losing streak to the Sooners (having been outscored 189-54) with a resounding 45-12 win in Dallas over the weekend. QB Vince Young led the way, tying a career-high with three TD passes. His first was at the end of Texas' first drive (12-82), a 15-yard pass that completed a drive in which he was five-of-five. His second TD pass was a 64-yarder that gave Texas a 24-6 lead with just 17 seconds remaining in the half. He finished the game 14-of-27 for 241 yards with three TDs and no interceptions. He also rushed for 45 yards on 17 carries. Texas has now won 11 straight games and looks as if it can "run the table." Young is an impressive 22-2 as a starter. Now that Texas has gotten out of Oklahoma's shadow, is USC next? Ever since his fabulous Rose Bowl performance last January, Young has been the man most-likely to win this year's Heisman, if neither Leinart nor Bush do. I CAN'T argue with that statement. His season stats are: 68-of-109 62.4 1021 yards 10 TDs 5 INTs / 65 carries 355 yards 5.5 YPC 2 TDs.

4) DREW STANTON (Michigan State) last Week: 4. Behind the "Big Three", it's anybody's guess. I'll stick with Stanton, who leads the nation with a QB rating of 190.1 and has Michigan State second in the nation behind USC in total offense. Michigan State's average of 45.4 PPG ranks fifth. The Spartans were off last week after losing to Michigan on October 1 (34-31 in OT). Things don't get easier this week, as the Spartans must go to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes, who are fresh off a 17-10 loss to Penn State in Happy Valley. Stanton needs to lead Michigan State to a win, if he has any designs of keeping himself in the mix, behind the top-three. His season stats are: 99-of-138 71.7 1466 yards 14 TDs 3 TDs / 42 carries 123 yards 2.9 YPC 2 TDs.

5) LAURENCE MARONEY (Minnesota) Last Week: 5. The Gophers were embarrassed two weeks ago by Penn State but bounced back this past Saturday with a 23-20 win at Michigan, ending a 16-game losing streak to the Wolverines. Laurence Maroney, who had a streak of six consecutive 100-yard games snapped last week, ran 36 times for 129 yards in the win. His one-yard TD run with just over six minutes to go, tied the game at 20-all. However, it was backfield mate Gary Russell who broke off a 61-yard run on a third-and-10 play late in the game, that set up the game-winning FG. Despite Russell's big game (18-128), it's hard to argue against the fact that Maroney is still Minnesota's "go-to-guy." His 100-yard game was the 18th of his career and the team is an impressive 16-2 when he tops the 100-yard mark. His 145.8 YPG average places him fourth in the nation in rushing. His season stats are: 165 carries 875 yards 5.3 YPC 7 TDs / 11 catches 131 yards 11.9 YPC 1 TD.

6) BRADY QUINN (Notre Dame) Last Week: 6. 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 two weeks ago 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 will host USC on Saturday, 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) CHRIS LEAK (Florida) Last Week: 8. Leak has had some trouble adjusting to Urban Meyer's spread offense, as he's nowhere near the runner Alex Smith was at Utah. He has suffered 17 sacks this year and against Tennessee and Alabama, the Gators have been able to score just 19 total points (one TD). Leak played through the pain (shoulder injury) last Saturday against Mississippi State, as the Gators won 35-9. His numbers were hardly spectacular, as he finished 18-of-33 for 244 yards with one TD and two interceptions. He also ran for his third rushing TD in '05, as the Gators moved to 5-1 for the first time since Spurrier left. The Gators will play at LSU on Saturday, a game that they HAVE to win in order to have any chance of winning the SEC East and a game Leak MUST play well in, to have a chance of future inclusion in one man's top-10. His season stats are: 115-of-184 62.5 1468 yards 10 TDs 4 INTs / 3 rush TDs.

8) BRIAN CALHOUN (Wisconsin) Last Week: 7. Calhoun has made a big splash at Wisconsin this year but not only did the Badgers' undefeated season end in Northwestern's 51-48 win over Wisconsin last Saturday, but Calhoun was overshadowed by the play of true freshman, Tyrell Sutton. Sutton ran for 244 yards and three TDs for Northwestern in its win, making Calhoun's 122 yards and one TD on 23 carries seem fairly routine. However, it was Calhoun's fourth straight 100-yard game in '05, as well as his fifth in six games. He also caught 11 passes (a career-high) for 128 yards. He has 11 rushing TDs on the year and at 141.5 YPG, ranks fifth in the nation in rushing. His season stats are: 176 carries 849 yards 4.8 YPC 11 TDs / 26 catches 295 yards 11.3 YPC 0 TDs.

9) CODY HODGES (Texas Tech) Last Week: NR. The story goes that ANYONE can play QB in Mike Leach's offense and it's hard to argue. Kingsbury, Symons and Cumbie have all put up amazing 'numbers' at Lubbock the last few years and have never been heard from since. So, it's hard for Leach's latest QB, Cody Hodges, to get too much respect. Tech's schedule has been extremely easy to this point, so I won't spend too much time defending him. However, he did pull a "rabbit out of his hat" at Lincoln last week. After jumping out to a 21-0 lead, the Red Raiders were all but done when Hodges' pass was tipped and intercepted around the Nebraska 10-yard line, late in the game. However, Nebraska's nose tackle fumbled the ball back on the return, giving Texas Tech life. On a fourth-and-two play, Hodges threw the game-winning TD pass with 12 seconds remaining (34-31 final), keeping Tech's undefeated season intact at 5-0 (Red Raiders are ranked 13th). He finished 34-of-45 for 368 yards with four TDs and just one interception. He's topped 300 yards in four of his five games this year (two times above 400!) and ranks fifth in the nation with a QB rating of 172.8. His season stats are: 148-of-203 72.9 1818 yards 17 TDs 3 INTs / 2 rush TDs.

10) LENDALE WHITE (USC) Last Week: NR. Why not one more USC guy? White led the Trojans in rushing last year with 1103 yards, a 5.4 YPC average and 17 TDs (15 rushing). He was quiet in USC's first two games, as more attention was focused on Bush. However, White has delivered the last three weeks, topping 100 yards in three straight games, including a career-high 197 yards two weeks ago against Arizona State and a career-high four TDs in last Saturday's win over Arizona (24-179). He is once again the team's leading rusher and the 100-yard effort gives him 11 for his career. His season stats are: 81 carries 616 yards 7.6 YPC 10 TDs / 3 catches 44 yards 14.7 YPC 0 TDs.

DROPPED OUT:

9) Adrian Peterson (Oklahoma) It doesn't take long to become an also-ran.

10) DeAngelo Williams (Memphis) Williams is an incredible player but when your team has already lost to Ole Miss, Tulsa and UCF, it's pretty hard to get anyone talking Heisman.

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