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Heisman Trophy Top-10

   by Larry Ness - 11/08/2005

(Monday, November 7)

Virginia Tech's 27-7 home loss to Miami means it's clear sailing for a USC/Texas showdown in the year's Rose Bowl. It's the game everyone wants to see and assuming neither USC nor Texas stumbles, this year's title game will undoubtedly feature the 2005 Heisman winner.While there can be a reasonable debate over where one places Leinart, Bush or Young on his Heisman ballot, anyone not placing these three guys one, two and three should have their Heisman votes taken away from them, PERMANENTLY!! My latest Heisman update follows.

1) MATT LEINART (USC) Last Week: 1. I've been a Leinart supporter from the start. I moved Bush into my number spot after the Notre Dame game but moved Leinart back to the top spot last week and he remains there this week after another excellent performance. The Notre Dame game ended a three-game stretch in which Leinart had gone without a TD pass in two of those games but he's responded by leading USC to three consecutive 50-point games (team now owns a school single-season record of five) while throwing for 11 TDs and just one interception. Leinart led the Trojans to scores on all SEVEN of the team's first half possessions against Stanford and USC led 44-7 at the break. Leinart wasn't asked to stick around to the end, as USC won its 31st straight game (51-21), its 25th straight home game and its 21st straight Pac-10 game. He game stats were 22-of-28 for 259 yards with four TDs and no interceptions. He broke another USC school record, passing Carson Palmer for the most 200-yard passing games in school history with 32. He extended his Pac-10 record of career passing TDs to 94 (just 21 career interceptions) and upped his career mark as a starter to 34-1. I'm not sure how one CAN'T give this guy some extra-credit for career accomplishments? Statistically, he's having even a better year than when he won the award last year, as his current QB rating of 170.5 leads the nation and he's topped 300 yards passing SIX times this year after doing it just five times in 2003 and 2004 combined. His season stats are: 191-of-286 66.8 2771 yards 23 TDs 6 INTs / 3 rush TDs.

2) REGGIE BUSH (USC) Last Week: 2. Bush will surely have his supporters and it's hard to argue against them. I don't have a single knock on Bush, other than I prefer Leinart. After two straight games of less than 100 yards rushing, Bush used a 42-yard TD run in the first quarter to top 100 yards for the SIXTH time in nine games this year. Bush, like Leinart, is having a better year than he did in 2004. Bush had just two 100-yard games in 2004 and despite sharing carries and the spotlight in the USC backfield with LenDale White, he's over 1,000 yards for the season (had just 902 all of last year) and ranks second in the nation with 193.2 YPG in all-purpose yards. However, it's my feeling that Bush peaked in the Notre Dame game and while Leinart has been "deadly efficient" the last three weeks, Bush has been (for him), merely mortal. Let's see how the final three games play out for both USC and these two talented teammates. His season stats are: 13 carries 1022 yards 8.3 YPC 11 TDs / 27 catches 311 yards 11.5 YPC 2 TDs.

3) VINCE YOUNG (Texas) Last Week: 3. It was my feeling about a month ago that this was clearly a two-man race. However, Vince Young has changed all that with his recent play! Texas crushed Baylor this past Saturday, 62-0. Going back to the Oklahoma State game in which they trailed the Cowboys 28-9, the Longhorns have now outscored their opponents 100-0! Young was 16-of-27 for 298 yards with two TDs (both in the 3rd quarter) and no interceptions. He ran for 53 more yards (eight carries) but didn't score on the ground. His 351 yards of total offense marked the FOURTH time in the last six games in which he's topped 300 yards in game, including that career-high effort of 506 against Oklahoma State two weeks ago. He's already totaled nearly 300 passing yards more than he had all of last year (as well as for six more TD passes) plus he's the Longhorns' leading rusher in 2005 as well. The win over Baylor was Texas' 16th straight, the school's longest since its 30-game streak from 1968-70. Young is now 26-2 as a starter and has CLEARLY made this a three-man race! His season stats are: 136-of-217 62.7 2133 yards 18 TDs 8 INTs / 111 carries 778 yards 7.0 YPC 8 TDs.

4) BRADY QUINN (Notre Dame) Last Week: 4. In some other year, Brady would be right in the Heisman mix but as well as he's played, the best he can hope for this year, is an invite to New York (which he most assuredly will get!). Quinn is breaking Notre Dame records weekly or extending records he's already broken. He threw two TD passes in the first quarter this week against Tennessee and after a 78-yard punt return for a TD, the Irish led the Vols, 21-3 (early 2nd quarter). However, Tennessee was able to tie the game at 21-all. Facing a third-and-10 in the early fourth quarter, Quinn's short pass was broken for a 73-yard play and shortly after that, his third TD pass of the game, propelled Notre Dame to a 41-21 win. He finished 20-of-33 for 295 yards with three TDs and no interceptions. He extended his school record to 13 straight games with at least one TD pass and the 295 passing yards marked his 13th career game of more than 250 yards (also extending a record he already owns). He's now got 6,984 career passing yards, just 618 yards shy of the school's all-time mark. Notre Dame moved to No. 11 in the latest BCS standings which is important, because the Irish need a BCS ranking of a least 12 plus nine wins (they would have to win-out), to get that all-important BCS bid! His season stats are: 195-of-299 65.2 2647 yards 23 TDs 4 INTs / 1 rush TD.

5) DREW OLSON (UCLA) Last Week: 5. I wasn't sure who to place fifth this week but finally decided on Olson, despite the fact that UCLA was beaten 52-14 by Arizona. October was a magical month for the Bruins, as Olson led the team to FOUR fourth-quarter comeback wins. In each case, the Bruins trailed by at least double-digits. That's quite an achievement for a team that had gone just 12-13 in Karl Dorrell's first two seasons and for a QB who had completed 55.6 percent of his passes with a modest TD-to-interception ratio of 32-25 in his first three years. Olson's been brilliant all season and even though there was no comeback in the cards for the Bruins this past Saturday (they trailed 21-0 at the end of the 1st quarter, 31-7 at the half and were outscored 21-0 in the 3rd quarter!), Olson had decent 'numbers'. He finished the game 23-of-38 for 232 yards with two TDs and nary an interception. Olson is as good a choice as anyone for this spot. His season stats are: 196-of-295 66.4 2399 yards 25 TDs 3 INTs / 1 rush TD.

6) CODY HODGES (Texas Tech) Last Week: NR. Of course Hodges suffers greatly from the view that ANYONE can be successful in Mike Leach's high-powered offense but let's give this 5th-year senior his due. He entered this season with just 12 career passing attempts and has Tech at 8-1 (only loss came to Texas) ranked higher than at any time since the 1977 season. He completed 29-of-44 for 408 yards with two TDs and one interception in last Saturday's 56-17 rout of Texas A&M (also had a rushing TD). He's now topped 300 yards in SEVEN of his nine games this year, including four games of better than 400 yards (had 643 vs Kan St!). His 395.1 YPG leads the nation in total offense. System or not, this is some first year! His season stats are: 285-of-420 67.9 3502 yards 27 TDs 9 INTs / 3 rush TDs.

7) MAURICE DREW (UCLA) Last Week: 6. Unlike teammate Drew Olson, Maurice Drew had a miserable game in UCLA's first loss of the season. He ran for just 41 yards on 12 carries and caught three passes for 25 yards. However, he's been a major part of UCLA's 8-1 season and has been a key performer in all of the team's comeback wins. His 18 TDs have him ranked fifth in the nation in scoring (12.0 PPG) and his 171.1 YPG have him ranked eighth in all-purpose yards. His season stats are: 146 carries 728 yards 5.0 YPC 11 TDs / 26 catches 385 yards 14.8 YPC 4 TDs / 3 TDs on kick returns.

8) DeANGELO WILLIAMS (Memphis) Last Week: 7. Memphis jumped out to a 17-3 lead over UAB last Tuesday but wound up losing, 37-20. Williams was over 100 yards at the half and finished with his SEVENTH straight 100-yard game (four of 200 or more!) of the season (21-167). You DON'T win the Heisman playing at Memphis, especially if the team is just 4-4 but Williams deserves to be in everybody's top-10. He's now posted 31 career 100-yard games (including eight 200-yard games) and is unquestionably one of the nation's finest players, ranking FIRST in both rushing YPG (184.5) all-purpose yards (195.0 YPG). His season stats are: 216 carries 1476 yards 6.8 YPC 12 TDs / 10 catches 51 yards 5.1 YPC 0 TDs.

9) LAURENCE MARONEY (Minnesota) Last Week: 8. Minnesota got back on the winning track with a 42-21 win over Indiana last Saturday but a less than 100% Maroney finished with just 85 yards (and one TD) on 15 carries. Maroney has topped 100 yards in SEVEN of his nine games this year (three times topping 200 yards) and owns 20 career 100-yard games (team is 16-4). His 152.0 YPG average ranks him third in the nation in rushing and he's accomplished all this despite that fact that backfield mate Gary Russell has run for 882 yards (6.9 YPC) and 15 TDs! His season stats are: 248 carries 1345 yards 5.4 YPC 10 TDs / 15 catches 158 yards 10.5 YPC 1 TD.

10) JEROME HARRISON (Washington State) Last Week: NR. NOBODY wins the Heisman with a 3-6 team (unless your name is Paul Hornung, you play for Notre Dame and the year is 1956!) but Jerome Harrison is my choice for the No. 10 slot. Despite losing 27-24 to Arizona State this past Saturday, the team's SIXTH consecutive loss, Harrison ran for 240 yards on 38 carries! He's topped 100 yards in all NINE of the Cougars' games this year and going back to last year, has topped the century mark in 12 straight games. That ties the Pac-10 record for consecutive 100-yard games set just last year, by Cal's JJ Arrington. He's ranked second to Williams in rushing at 172.2 YPG and shouldn't be penalized for his team's poor play. He's clearly one of the year's best performers. Maybe not top-10 material but he gets his 'props' this week in my poll. His season stats are: 244 carries 1550 yards 6.4 YPC 14 TDs / 15 catches 128 yards 8.5 YPC 0 TDs.

DROPPED OUT:

9) Brian Calhoun (Wisconsin)
10) Marcus Vick (Va Tech)

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