Get the best handicapping articles and gambling advice throughout the football, basketball and baseball seasons from the world's top sports handicappers, as well as from Bovada (Bodog) Sportsbook and Casino.
Heisman Trophy Top-10
by Larry Ness - 10/17/2005
(Monday, October 17)
Vince Young played a wonderful game in the Longhorns' 42-17 win over Colorado last Saturday but even the "Eyes of Texas" were focused on South Bend, where USC beat Notre Dame 34-31 in a classic. Two USC teammates, last year's Heisman-winner Matt Leinart and the incomparable Reggie Bush, seemingly have the Heisman race all to themselves. My latest Heisman update follows:
1)REGGIE BUSH (USC) Last Week: 2. Bush is the IRRESISTIBLE force in this year's college football season as well as in the Heisman race, too. No one is a bigger fan of Leinart than I am but Bush deserves the number ranking at this point. His 36-yard TD run gave USC a 7-0 lead, his 45-yard TD burst tied the game at 21-all in the third quarter, his nine-yard TD run gave USC a 28-24 lead with just over five minutes left in the game and his not-so-subtle "push" gave Leinart all the momentum he needed on the game-winning play! Bush carried 15 times for 160 yards and caught three passes for 35 yards. Throw in his return yards and he had 264 all-purpose yards for the game and he lost another nearly 100 more yards on penalties! He's now topped 100 yards in five straight games (had just two 100-yard games all of LY) and leads the nation in all-purpose yards with an average of 206.2 YPG! Bush has long been regarded as college football's most exciting player, it seems as if he's now ready to claim the title of college football's best player as well. His season stats are: 86 carries 761 yards 8.8 YPC 9 TDs / 17 catches 226 yards 13.3 YPC 2 TDs.
2) MATT LEINART (USC) Last Week: 1. I've resisted the urge to move Leinart down from the number one spot but he has now failed to throw a TD pass for the second time in three games, while Bush just continues to AMAZE! While Bush is college football's most exciting player, I believe that Leinart is still the heart-and-soul of this incredible USC team that just refuses to lose. Everyone saw the Notre Dame game (USC won 34-31) so there's little sense re-hashing it. Leinart's perfect 61-yard pass to Jarrett on that 4th-and-nine call off an audible, says all you need to know about this guy. Also, he's playing lucky. His leap towards the end zone at the end of the game could have turned out much differently than it did. He could have been tackled in bounds (time would have run out!), could have lost the fumble or the fumble could have easily gone through the end zone for a Notre Dame touchback. Instead, it went SIDEWAYS out of bounds, setting up his dramatic Bush-aided one-yard TD run! For just the third time in 32 career games he was held without a TD pass and he had a multi-interception game (two), for the first time in the team's 28-game winning streak (72 TDs just 14 INTs). He finished the game 17-of-32 for 301 yards with zero TDs and two interceptions, as well as that all-important TD run! He topped 300 yards passing for the fifth time in six games this year (had just five 300-yard games the last two seasons) and is now 31-1 as a starter (83 TDs and 20 INTs). His season stats are: 125-of-198 63.1 1947 yards 12 TDs 5 INTs / 3 rush TDs.
3) VINCE YOUNG (Texas) Last Week: 3. The Longhorns have played second-fiddle to the Sooners the last five years and so for Vince Young, playing second-fiddle in the 2005 Heisman race to Bush and Leinart (or Leinart and Bush), is nothing new. Young had a career-best 336 yards last Saturday, while completing 25-of-29 passes to set a Texas single-game record for completion percentage at 86.2 percent. He completed 16-of-18 passes for 258 yards in the first half and finished with two TD passes as well as three rushing TDs (10-58). The Longhorns won their 13th straight game, 42-17 over Colorado and are now off to their best start since going 11-0 in the regular season of 1983 . Young also upped his record as a starter at Texas to 23-2! However, all this came in the shadow of the USC-Notre Dame classic. It's unlikely Young can crack the top-two in this year's Heisman race but he can hope for a return to the Rose Bowl and a national title showdown with USC at the end of the year. His season stats are: 93-of-138 67.4 1357 yards 12 TDs 5 INTs / 75 carries 413 yards 5.5 YPC 5 TDs.
4) LAURENCE MARONEY (Minnesota) Last Week: 5. What a brutal loss for Minnesota (38-34) on Saturday. However, how can one penalize Gopher RB Laurence Maroney? Minnesota was forced to start redshirt freshman Tony Mortenson at QB and turned to its running game (threw just four passes in the second half). However, Maroney and Co. came through, rushing for 411 yards! Maroney topped the 200-yard mark for the THIRD time this season, gaining a career-high 258 yards (43 attempts) that included a 93-yard TD run (had a 14-yard TD called back!). Leading 34-24 with about 3 1/2 minutes left, the Gophers allowed a 71-yard TD drive by Wisconsin and then failing to run out the clock, watched in horror as their punter dropped the snap and had his kick blocked. The Badgers recovered it in the end zone for the game-winning TD with 30 seconds left! Maroney went over 1000 yards for the season and became just the third Big-10 player-ever, to top 1000 yards in each of his first three years (MSU's Sedrick Irvin and Wisconsin's Ron Dayne are the others). His 161.9 YPG average ranks him third in the nation in rushing this season. He's topped 100 yards in five of his six games this year and has 19 in his career (team is 16-3). His season stats are: 208 carries 1133 yards 5.4 YPC 8 TDs / 11 catches 131 yards 11.9 YPC 1 TD.
5) BRADY QUINN (Notre Dame) Last Week: 6. Quinn has had better games this year but he impressed all with his poise versus No. 1 USC. Quinn finished 19-of-35 for 264 yards with one TD and one interception in the team's heart-breaking 34-31 loss to the Trojans. He also ran for 21 yards, the last five of which came on a TD run at the end of a beautifully-directed eight-play 87-yard drive, that gave the Irish a 31-28 lead with just over two minutes to play. However, Quinn had his "Heisman-moment" spoiled, when USC drove the length of the field, scoring on the game's last play (you may have heard?). Quinn has fit right into Charlie Weis' offense this year, topping 300 yards three times this year (twice over 400 yards!) and with his 264-yard effort against the Trojans, owns a new school record with 11 career 250-yard games. Also, his 32-yard TD pass in the second quarter, gave him at least one TD pass in 11 straight games, also a new Notre Dame record. Quinn won't challenge the top-three by year's end but he could earn his way to New York City for the final presentation with a strong finish. His season stats are: 143-of-225 63.6 1885 yards 14 TDs 4 INTs / 1 rush TD.
6) DREW STANTON (Michigan State) Last Week: 4. Michigan State's coaching staff suffered from a case of "brain freeze" in the final seconds of its game with Ohio State. Instead of letting Stanton spike the ball and then bring on the FG unit, MSU's coaching staff hurried the FG unit onto the field and the result was an Ohio State block, followed by a 72-yard return for a TD. Drew Stanton would finish the 35-24 loss with 26 completions in 36 attempts for 340 yards (one TDP / zero INTs) but for the second straight week, Stanton had trouble getting his team in the end zone during the game's second half. MSU didn't score an offensive TD the week before in a 34-31 OT loss to Michigan and scored just once last Saturday against Ohio State. While Stanton led MSU to 27 FDs and 456 yards in the game, only four FDs and 70 yards came in the fourth quarter, as the Spartans lost a game they could have won, for the second straight time. However, it's hard to drop Stanton too far on this list, as he leads the nation with a QB rating of 184.0. However, he isn't running like he did last year, when he gained 687 yards with a 7.2 YPC average. His season stats are: 125-of-174 71.8 1806 yards 15 TDs 3 INTs / 66 carries 127 yards 1.9 YPC 2 TDs.
7) CODY HODGES (Texas Tech) Last Week: 9. Hodges entered this year with just 12 career pass attempts and two career TD passes. He surpassed those totals in the first quarter of his first game this year and hasn't slowed down since! In Tech's 59-20 win over Kansas State on Saturday, he 'lit up' the Wildcats for 643 yards, the fourth-highest single-game total in NCAA history. He finished 44-of-65 with five TDs and two interceptions. He's now topped 300 yards in FIVE of his six games this year (three times he's topped 400 yards), as well as throwing for four or more TD passes in FOUR of the six. Tech's had it pretty easy up 'til now and of course Hodges is under-appreciated because many feel any QB could be doing well in Mike Leach's system. There is certainly more than a little validity to that theory but Hodges has an opportunity to change a few minds this Saturday, when he leads the Red Raiders into Austin. However, it should be noted that Hodges has led Texas Tech to its highest AP ranking (No. 10) since the school was No. 7 in 1977. His season stats are: 192-of-268 71.6 2461 22 TDs 5 INTs / 2 rush TDs.
8) BRIAN CALHOUN (Wisconsin) Last Week: 8. Calhoun's performance on Saturday took a backseat to Laurence Maroney's outstanding effort in the Wisconsin-Minnesota game but it was Calhoun's team that escaped with the 38-34 win. While Maroney was running for a career-high 258 yards (including a 93-yard TD run), Calhoun 'quietly' gained 110 yards and scored three TDs on 23 carries. He's now topped 100 yards in SIX of his seven games this year and his 14 rushing TDs trails only Louisville's Michael Bush (15). Calhoun ranks 6th in the nation in rushing yards (137 YPG), 6th in all-purpose yards (183.3 YPG) and 5th in scoring (12 PPG). Not a bad first year for the Colorado transfer. His season stats are: 199 carries 959 yards 4.8 YPC 14 TDs / 29 catches 324 yards 11.2 YPC 0 TDs.
9) MAURICE DREW (UCLA) Last Week: NR. The Bruins fell behind Washington State on Saturday 21-0 and 28-7 but came back to win in OT, 44-41. QB Drew Olson tied a school record with five TD passes but it's junior RB Maurice Drew who moves into my latest Heisman top-10. Drew has been outstanding all year, leading the Bruins to a current ranking of eight in the latest AP poll and ninth in the first BCS standings. Drew finished with 109 yards rushing on a season-high 29 carries (just the first time this year he's had more than 15 in a game). His lone rushing TD was of the one-yard variety but it was the game-winner in OT. He added three catches for 78 yards, including a 45-yard TD reception. The 100-yard game was just his second this year and the only the 7th of his career. UCLA is 7-0 in those games, so maybe the Bruins ought to give him the ball more often! He ranks 8th in the nation in all-purpose yards with 174.8 YPG and when you add in his three TDs on kick returns, his 14 TDs in six games places him tied for second in scoring, at 14 PPG. His season stats are: 95 carries 485 yards 5.1 YPC / 14 catches 206 yards 14.7 YPC 2 TDs / 3 kick return TDs.
10) DeANGELO WILLIAMS (Memphis ) Last Week: NR. Others who deserve mention at this spot are Louisville's Michael Bush, Oregon's Kellen Clemens and Washington State's Jerome Harrison. However, I'll give the final spot to Memphis' DeAngelo Williams, the nation's leading rusher at 180.5 YPG. Williams opened the year with an 85-yard effort versus Ole Miss, but has since ripped off FIVE straight 100-yard games (three of which were 200-plus!). His latest effort was a 198-yard two-TD performance (33 carries) in the Tigers' 35-20 win over Houston. Of course, Williams has no chance of winning this year's Heisman, but let's give him his due. He now has 29 career 100-yard games (seven of 200 yards or more) and Saturday's game moved him into 10th-place all-time in NCAA history, with 5145 career rushing yards. It's Memphis' Homecoming game this Saturday and with just 33 rushing yards, Williams will move past the current No. 9 in career rushing yards, Archie Griffin (college football's only two-time Heisman winner!). His season stats are: 156 carries 1083 6.9 YPC 10 TDs / 9 catches 37 yards 4.1 YPC 0 TDs.
7) Chris Leak (Florida)
10) LenDale White (USC)