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Heisman Trophy Top-10

   by Larry Ness - 11/01/2005

(Monday, October 31)

This year's Heisman race could be as close as this year's chase for the top-two spots in the BCS. USC is back to No. 1 in the latest BCS standings with Texas No. 2 and in my latest Heisman poll, I've moved last year's winner Matt Leinart ahead of his teammate Reggie Bush. However, for the first time all season, I'm beginning to believe that Texas QB Vince Young has a legitimate chance to win this thing. Two QBs fill out the remainder of my top-five and I guess that should come as no surprise as a QB has won this award each of the last five years. My latest Heisman top-10 follows.

1)MATT LEINART (USC) Last Week: 2. Should a player get extra-credit for career accomplishments? Or is this award based on just the 2005 season? How about some extra-credit for turning down millions from the NFL? The Heisman has a great tradition and there are more than few "old school" voters. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if Matt Leinart benefits from BOTH his incredible three-year career and the fact that he's the "poster boy" for the "stay in school" crowd. Anyway, Leinart doesn't need much help, as he continues to let his play do the talking. He had three TD passes and 232 yards passing by the end of Saturday's FIRST quarter this past Saturday, as USC rolled to a 55-13 win over Washington State. He had 302 yards at the half and was done for the day by the late third quarter. USC finished with a season-high 745 (the most yards ever allowed by a Wash St team) and 40 FDs. As for Leinart, he finished 24-of-34 for 364 yards with three TDs and one interception. USC has now won 30 straight games overall (tying for the 11th-longest streak in college football history), 24 straight at home and 20 straight in the Pac-10. Leinart's 300-yard game was his SIXTH this year, topping the total of five he had in his previous two seasons. He's averaging 314 YPG passing in 2005, 62 YPG more than in 2003 and 2004. He's 33-1 as a starter with a TD-to-INT ratio of 90-21! He's now No. 2 on USC's all-time completions list with 693 (he won't catch Carson Palmer who is No. 1 at 927) and has tied Palmer's school record with 31 career 200-yard passing games. He's already the Pac-10's career leader in TD passes and he extended his margin over the previous leader to five, with his three TD effort (has 90). Won't it be hard NOT to make this guy the award's second-ever two-time winner? His season stats are: 169-of-258 65.5 2512 yards 19 TDs 6 INTs / 3 rush TDs.

2) REGGIE BUSH (USC) Last Week: 1. I moved Bush ahead of Leinart after the Notre Dame game, as that game marked an incredible performance by Bush and was also the end of a three-game stretch in which Leinart had thrown just one TD pass. However, while Leinart has responded with back-to-back excellent games, Bush has been less than spectacular. He ran for just 51 yards two weeks ago against Washington and followed this past Saturday with his second-straight sub-100 yard game, gaining 97 yards on 17 carries. He didn't score a TD for just the second time this year, missing out when he fumbled at the goal line in the first quarter (ball was recovered by an OL for a USC score). He added four catches for 40 yards and all-in-all, had a fairly quiet day, as teammate LenDale White ran for 155 yards and two TDs. Still, Bush has five 100-yard games this year (entered with just two in his career), has already surpassed his rushing total from last year and leads the nation in all-purpose yards with 197.3 YPG. Now all he has to do is out-distance his teammate for the most-cherished award in all of sports. That will be a difficult task, no matter how spectacular he is! His season stats are: 111 carries 909 yards 8.2 YPC 10 TDs / 23 catches 284 yards 12.3 YPC 12.3 YPC 2 TDs.

3) VINCE YOUNG (Texas) Last Week: 3. Young got off to a bad start versus Texas Tech two weeks ago with two early interceptions but got things turned around by halftime. It was not quite as easy this past Saturday, as some poor play by Young and the entire Texas team found the Longhorns down 28-9 at Stillwater, late in the second quarter. Texas got a FG right before the half but still trailed Oklahoma State, 28-12. However, this IS Oklahoma State and the Longhorns have specialized in Texas-sized comebacks against the Cowboys. It was no different this time, as Young opened the second half with an 80-yard TD run (in what he hopes will be defined as a Heisman-moment!) and by the end of the third quarter had added an eight-yard TD run plus a 21-yard TD pass! Texas finished the game on a 38-0 run and won, 47-28. He finished 15-of-30 for 239 yards with two TDs and one interception. He ran 21 times for a career-high 267 yards, adding two more scores. Just one week after Missouri's Brad Smith became the sixth player in Division I-A history to top 200 yards passing and rushing in the same game, Young became the SEVENTH! He set a Texas record with 506 yards of total offense and Texas is claiming he is the first Division I-A player to have ever topped 250 yards rushing and 230 yards passing in a single game. The win was Texas' 15th straight, the nation's second-longest winning streak behind USC and the win also ups Young's career mark as a starter to 25-2. His career-best rushing day gives him nine career 100-yard games and after losing in his first 100-yard game to Oklahoma, Young has led the Longhorns to wins in each of his last 100-yard rushing efforts. Young's numbers are quite impressive but still fall short of Leinart's by a considerable margin. However, perception is reality and one would have to be BLIND to not realize that Young is attracting an awful lot of Heisman interest. His season stats are: 120-of-190 63.2 1835 yards 16 TDs 8 INTs / 103 carries 725 yards 7.0 YPC 8 TDs.

4) BRADY QUINN (Notre Dame) Last Week: 4. 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 on October 22, 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) DREW OLSON (UCLA) Last Week: 8. Another fourth quarter deficit this past Saturday and another dramatic win for the Olson-led UCLA Bruins! The Bruins and Olson have had an October to remember. They had trailed Washington, Cal and Wash St by double-digits in the 4th quarter, yet came back to win all three. So it was nothing new when the Bruins entered Saturday's 4th quarter down 14-3 or when the team fell behind 24-3 with just over eight minutes left. All Olson did was drive the Bruins on TD drives of 65 yards (six plays), 72 yards (three plays) and 66 yards (eight plays)! The three drives took a total of just 3:40! On the game-tying drive, Olson converted a fourth-and-two play, that would have ended UCLA's perfect season. In the overtime, Olson threw a 23-yard TD pass on the Bruins' second play, giving them a 30-27 win. After throwing for five and six TD passes the last two games, Olson had just two TD passes this past Saturday (24-of-35 for 293 yards with no interceptions), but it's hard to argue against the fact that this was Olson's most impressive outing of the year! Olson has come out of nowhere (32-25 TD-to-INT ratio and 55.6% completions in his first three seasons) to lead a UCLA team that was 12-13 in Karl Dorrell's first two seasons to an 8-0 mark in 2005 (one of five remaining unbeatens). His season stats are: 173-of-257 67.3 2167 yards 23 TDs 3 INTs / 1 rush TD.

6) MAURICE DREW (UCLA) Last Week: 6.

7) DeANGELO WILLIAMS (Memphis) Last Week: 7.

8) LAURENCE MARONEY (Minnesota) Last Week: 5.

9) BRIAN CALHOUN (Wisconsin) Last Week: NR.

10) MARCUS VICK (Virginia Tech) Last Week: NR.


9) Cody Hodges (Texas Tech
10) Brett Basanez (Northwestern)

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