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Heisman Trophy Top-10

   by Larry Ness - 10/25/2005

(Monday, October 24)

Texas caught USC in the latest BCS standings but it's highly unlikely that Texas QB Vince Young will be able to catch USC's Reggie Bush or Matt Leinart among Heisman-voters. USC has dominated the LA-scene for quite awhile now but UCLA is also off to a 7-0 start this year and ranked SIXTH in the latest BCS standings. Could the teams December 3 showdown really mean something? Is it possible UCLA's "two Drews", RB Maurice and QB Olson, could actually be Bush or Leinart's greatest threat? Remember Beban-Simpson in 1967 and Aikman-Peete in 1988? My latest Heisman update follows.

1)REGGIE BUSH (USC) Last Week: 1. Bush's 84-yard punt return for a TD at Washington, once again left all observers shaking their collective heads. However, his streak of five consecutive 100-yard games came to an end, as he totaled just 51 yards rushing on eight carries (one TD) in USC's 51-24 win over the Huskies (he added two catches for 18 yards). I'm leaving Bush at No. 1 but his hold on the top spot is shaky, at best. I know he's the "people's choice" but he can't afford any more 51-yard games and stay ahead of Leinart in my rankings. Bush had SEVEN games of 55 yards rushing or less in 2004 and finished with "just" 908 yards on the season, the reason he finished a distant 5th in the voting in 2004. He's already got 812 yards rushing this year plus five 100-yards games but his receptions are down (19 through seven games with two TDs), after catching 43 last year with seven TDs. Bush does lead the nation in all-purpose yards (203.1 YPG) and is still college football's most exciting player. Can he get more votes than team-leader and defending Heisman-winner Matt Leinart by year's end? We'll see. His season stats are: 94 carries 812 yards 8.6 YPC 10 TDs / 19 catches 244 yards 12.8 YPC 2 TDs.

2) MATT LEINART (USC) Last Week: 2. Leinart wasted little time getting back on track after failing to throw a TD pass in two of his last three games. USC fell behind Washington 10-7 but took advantage of Husky miscues and capitalized quickly, jumping out to a 37-17 halftime lead. Leinart finished the first half 14-of-17 for 145 yards with three TD passes. USC barely seemed interested in the second half, winning 51-24. Leinart finished with "just" 201 yards in the air but completed 20-of 26 passes with four TDs and no interceptions. He's now led the Trojans to 29 straight wins and is 32-1 as a starter. In those games, his TD-to-interception ratio is an mind-numbing 87-20. His 87 TD passes moves him into first place all-time in the Pac-10, passing Andrew Walter of Arizona State, who had previously held the career TD record with 85 TD passes. A quick comparison shows that Leinart had completed 65.1 percent of his passes for 1628 yards with 16 TDs and just four interceptions through last year's first seven games. His overall numbers are pretty much the same through seven games this year, although his passing yards are up by over 500 yards, as he's already had as many 300-yard games this year (five) as he had in his two previous seasons combined. His season stats are: 145-of-224 64.7 2148 16 TDs 5 INTs / 3 rush TDs.

3) VINCE YOUNG (Texas) Last Week: 3. Young got off to a bad start versus Texas Tech last Saturday with two early interceptions but quickly turned things around. The Longhorns scored three times in the final 8 1/2-minutes of the second quarter, taking a 31-10 halftime lead over the Red Raiders. When Young hit Pittman for a 75-yard TD pass on the Longhorns' first possession of the third quarter, Texas cruised to a 52-17 win. Young finished 12-of-22 for 239 yards with two TDs and two interceptions,. He added 45 yards rushing, including a 10-yard TD run on seven carries. Texas has now won 14 straight games since losing to Oklahoma last year and Young is 24-2 as a starter in his career. He's DRAMATICALLY improved his passing this year, as his completion percentage is up to 65.6 percent (from 59.2 ), he's already thrown more TD passes (14) than he did all of last season (12), he's at almost 1600 passing yards in seven games (had just 1849 in 12 games last year) and his QB rating is 109.3, up from 79.9 last year. While Texas caught USC in the most recent BCS standings, it's highly unlikely Young can catch either Leinart or Bush in the Heisman race. His season stats are: 105-of-160 65.6 1596 yards 14 TDs 7 INTs / 82 carries 458 yards 5.6 YPC 6 TDs.

4) BRADY QUINN (Notre Dame) Last Week: 5. Do you think Charlie Weis has helped Brady Quinn? In two previous years as Notre Dame's starting QB, Quinn completed 50.8 percent of his passes with 26 TDs and 25 INTs. After seven games of the Weis-era, he's completing 65.8 percent, averaging 336 YPG passing, has 20 TDs and just four INTs and is setting Notre Dame passing records right and left! His most recent assault on the Notre Dame record-book came this past Saturday, in ND's 49-23 win over BYU. Quinn completed 25-of-30 for 287 yards with three TDs passes, in the first half alone! He finished the game 32-of-41 for 467 yards with six TDs and no interceptions. The 467 yards was his fourth 400-yard game of his career and his THIRD just this year. The six TD passes set a new Notre Dame single-game record (he owned the previous record of five set earlier this year vs Michigan St) and his 20 TD passes on the year, set a new single-season mark. He extended his school records for consecutive games with at least one TD pass and consecutive games of at least 250 passing yards to 12 and is now 2nd all-time with 6,769 passing yards. Ron Powlus is the leader at 7,602 yards, a figure Quinn will easily surpass this year, barring injury (five games left, including a bowl appearance). His season stats are: 175-of-266 65.8 2352 yards 20 TDs 4 INTs / 1 rush TD.

5) LAURENCE MARONEY (Minnesota) Last Week: 4. What a brutal loss for Minnesota (38-34) two Saturdays ago vs Wisconsin. 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). Maroney's got a lot of competition for this fifth-spot, so he'll need a HUGE game versus Ohio St this Saturday. A win would be nice, too.His season stats are: 208 carries 1133 yards 5.4 YPC 8 TDs / 11 catches 131 yards 11.9 YPC 1 TD.

6) MAURICE DREW (UCLA) Last Week: 9. I moved Drew into my top-10 last week for the first time and he's now knocking on the door of my top-five. Similar to USC's Bush, he's one of those do-everything guys. Also like Bush, he tends to make you hold your breath every time he touches the ball. Drew wasn't the star of UCLA's 51-28 win over Oregon State last week (see teammate Drew Olson at No. 8) but he did top 100 yards for the second straight week (third time this year) by gaining 120 yards in 21 carries. He didn't score a rushing TD but he did catch TD passes of 43 and 20 yards, totaling 67 yards on three catches for the game. Drew's 100-yard game was just the eighth of his career but UCLA is a perfect 8-0 in those games, making you wonder why he doesn't get more carries. He finished with 250 total yards in the game and now ranks fourth in the nation in all-purpose yards with an average of 185.6 YPG. His 16 TDs (three on kick returns) are second to only Louisville's Michael Bush, as Drew ranks second to Bush in scoring, at 13.7 PPG. His season stats are: 116 carries 605 yards 5.2 YPC 9 TDs / 17 catches 273 yards 16.1 YPC 4 TDs.

7) DeANGELO WILLIAMS (Memphis) Last Week: 10. Williams won't win this award in 2005 and may not even be invited to New York but how can anyone NOT include him in their top-10? After opening with an 85-yard effort in Memphis' season-opening loss to Ole Miss, Williams has ripped off SIX consecutive 100 yard games, four of which have topped 200 yards. His latest exploits came in last Saturday's 27-24 win over East Carolina, a game in which Williams carried a career-high 39 times, scoring two first quarter TDs (which gave Memphis a 17-0 lead!) and finishing with 226 yards. He now has 30 career 100-yard games (eight of 200-plus) and is moving up the list of all-time career rushers in NCAA history. Saturday's effort saw him pass two-time Heisman-winner Archie Griffin! His 187 YPG average, leads the nation. His season stats are: 195 carries 1309 yards 6.7 YPC 12 TDs / 10 catches 51 yards 5.1 YPC 0 TDs.

8) DREW OLSON (UCLA) Last Week: NR. Olson wasn't even supposed to be UCLA's Olson of choice this year, as Ben Olson was. However, Ben broke his throwing hand and the rest is history. Drew Olson had been UCLA's main QB the last two years, leading the Bruins to a 12-13 record, while tossing 29 TDs with 21 interceptions. However, he's been a completely different QB in 2005 and the Bruins are 7-0 and ranked SIXTH in the latest BCS standings. Two weeks ago, Olson tied a school-record with five TD passes in the team's 44-41 OT win at Washington State (UCLA trailed 28-7!) but broke the single-game record by tossing SIX TD passes this past Saturday! In UCLA's 51-28 win over Oregon State, Olson completed 16-of-24 passes for 262 yards and didn't throw an interception. Olson was instrumental in three straight comeback wins for the Bruins (Wash, Cal and Wash St) and now has a legitimate chance to keep the Bruins undefeated until their showdown with USC on December 3. His season stats are: 149-of-222 67.1 1874 yards 21 TDs 3 INTs / 1 rush TD.

9) CODY HODGES (Texas Tech) Last Week: 7. Two special teams mistakes in the second quarter put Texas Tech down 24-10 against Texas. Then, Hodges threw his only interception in 64 attempts on Saturday, but it came with the Red Raiders poised at the Texas goal line and ready to get back in the game at 24-17. So it went for the 5th-year senior, as despite 42 completions, 369 passing yards and two TD passes, the Red Raiders were outclassed by the Longhorns, losing 52-17. Should Hodges still be in the top-10? Maybe not but he has, after just 12 career attempts prior to this year, topped 300 yards passing in SIX of his seven games in 2005, including a 643-yard effort versus Kansas State two weeks ago. I'll leave him at nine for now. His season stats are: 234-of-332 70.5 2830 yards 24 TDs 6 INTs / 2 rush TDs.

10) BRETT BASANEZ (Northwestern) Last Week: NR. My last spot is always reserved for a great storyline and Basanez sure fills the bill. He's been around for four years with little fanfare prior to this year and really not much since the last three weeks. However, over the last three games, Basanez has led the Wildcats to wins over Wisconsin, Purdue and Michigan State. He completed 24-of-30 in Saturday's 49-14 win at Michigan State, passing for 331 yards with two TDs and no interceptions. He also added two rushing TDs. While true freshman RB Tyrell Sutton has gotten most of the attention (well-deserved with 970 yards rushing and 15 TDs!), let's hear it for the senior. In the team's three-game winning streak, Basanez has completed 71.9 percent of his passes, averaged 385 YPG passing and led the Wildcats to an average of 44.7 PPG! The wins have moved the Wildcats into the AP top-25 (No. 21), for the first time since 2001. He's the perfect choice to claim my last spot. His season stats are: 179-of-265 67.5 2181 yards 12 TDs 1 INT / 5 rush TDs.


6) Drew Stanton (Michigan State)
8) Brian Calhoun (Wisconsin)

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