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Heisman Trophy Top-10 (Monday, Sept 11)
by Larry Ness - 09/11/2006
Notre Dame and USC have each produced seven Heisman winners, the most of any schools in college football history. However, the Ohio State Buckeyes have produced five Heisman winners, accounting for a total of six trophies (Archie Griffin won back-to-back Heismans in 1974-75). While Notre Dame's Brady Quinn was the odds-on favorite to win this year's award entering the season, Ohio State QB Troy Smith is the early leader in my second Heisman Trophy top-10 poll of the young season. The entire poll appears below.
Heisman Trophy Top-10
(Monday, September 11)
1)TROY SMITH (Ohio State) Last Week:1. Texas used its early September 25-22 win over Ohio State in Columbus to catapult the Longhorns to their first undisputed national title since 1969 last year. Ohio State is hopeful its impressive 24-7 win last Saturday night in Austin, which ended Texas' 21-game winning streak, will be a similar springboard. Whether Ohio State will claim this year's national crown or not is unknown but the team is off to a great start, as it entered the year as the nation's No. 1 team in both major polls and has increased its lead by opening 2-0. Similarly, Troy Smith had a much better season debut than Notre Dame's Brady Quinn and Smith was very good again Saturday night in Austin. Smith completed 17-of-26 passes for 269 yards with two TDs and no INTs in the win against Texas. It marked Ohio State's ninth consecutive win with Smith completing 67.1 percent of his passes for an average of 254.6 YPG with 18 TDPs and just two INTs. The win over No. 1 Texas gives Smith a 7-1 record vs ranked opponents in his career. Smith is being compared to Texas' Vince Young but we've yet to see Smith run anything like Young these first two games. while Smith averaged 50.7 YPG (4.9 YPC) and ran for six TDs as Ohio State closed last year win seven straight wins, he's had eight carries so far in 2006, losing a total of 14 yards. However, that's 'pinching pennies', as Smith has been great! Ohio State will host Cincinnati this Saturday. His season stats are: 35-of-51 68.6 percent 566 yards with 5 TDPs and 0 INTs.
2)BRADY QUINN (Notre Dame) Last Week: 3. After a less than spectacular game in ND's season opening 14-10 win over Ga Tech (no TDPs but a TD run), Quinn was sharp in Saturday's 41-17 win at home over Penn State. Quinn was 12-of-16 for 150 yards with two TDPs in the second quarter alone and his third TDP in the early fourth quarter put the Irish up 41-3. He finished 25-of-36 for 287 yards with three TDPs and no INTs. Last year Quinn found himself in Weis' offense, throwing for 3,919 yards (64.9 percent) with 32 TDPs and just seven INTs. While he's yet to have a breakout game in his first two, it should be noted that after two games last year, Quinn had thrown for just 367 yards. He then got hot, topping 300 yards in five of his last 10 games (he topped 200 yards in all 10 games), with four games of better than 400 yards. He averaged 355.2 YPG over those final 10 games and he may need similar numbers to chase down Troy Smith in this year's Heisman race. Notre Dame hosts No. 11 Michigan this Saturday. His season stats are: 48-of-74 64.9 percent 533 yards with 3 TDPs 0 INTs / 15 attempts 15 yards 1.0 YPC 1 TD.
3)ADRIAN PETERSON (Oklahoma) Last Week: 5. Peterson had his second straight good game as the Sooners beat the Washington Huskies this past Saturday, 37-20. He ran for 165 yards on 32 carries and scored two TDs, for his 18th career 100-yard game. The good news for Peterson is that Oklahoma QB Paul Thompson has looked just fine in the first two games, averaging 249.5 YPG through the air while throwing for two TDs in each of the games as well. If Thompson can continue at this rate, Peterson should have a 'monster' season. Peterson and the Sooners get a real test this Saturday, as they will visit Eugene to play No. 18 Oregon in a rematch of last year's Holiday bowl, a game won by Oklahoma, 17-14. His season stats are: 56 attempts 304 yards 5.5 YPC 3 TDs / 3 catches 75 yards 1 TD.
4)STEVE SLATON (West Virginia) Last Week: 4. Slaton barely broke a sweat last Saturday as the Mountaineers crushed Division I-AA Eastern Washington, 52-3. He scored the game's first two TDs on runs of 49 and 17 yards and was on the sidelines before the half. He finished with eight carries (had 31 last week!) and 105 yards with those two TD runs. It marked his seventh career 100-yard game and West Va is 7-0 in those contests. Slaton did not play in three of West Va's first four games last year but topped 100 yards in five of the team's final eight games in leading the Mountaineers to an 11-1 season . He finished last year with 1,128 rushing yards (5.5 YPC) and 19 TDs (17 rushing). The Mountaineers host Maryland Thursday night. His season stats are: 41 attempts 308 yards 7.5 YPC 4 TDs / 1 catch 12 yards 0 TDs.
5)TED GINN JR (Ohio State) Last Week: 2. Ginn was the main focus of the Texas defense last Saturday night but he still managed five catches for 97 yards. Also, the extra attention paid to him allowed Anthony Gonzalez to shine for the Buckeyes, as he led the team with eight catches for 142 yards (both career highs!) with one TD reception. Ginn was far from silent in the game, making a 46-yard reception in the first quarter and hauling in a 29-yard TD catch right before the half, allowing Ohio State to take a 14-7 lead in the game's second half. As mentioned last week, for a WR to challenge for the Heisman, he needs to make big plays returning punts and/or kickoffs. Through two games, Ginn hasn't made any "highlight" kick returns. His season stats are: 9 catches 220 yards 24.4 YPC 3 TDs.
6)MIKE HART (Michigan) Last Week: 6. Hart and Henne led Michigan to a Rose Bowl appearance as freshman and last year struggled through a 7-5 season. While Henne is off to a very mediocre start in Michigan's 2-0 start to the 2006 season (21-of-41 for 248 yards with two TDPs and no INTs), Hart has put together back-to-back 100-yard games. That makes 12 in his career and it's a significant stat as the Wolverines are 11-1 when Hart tops the century mark.Hart ran 19 times for 116 yards in Michigan's 41-17 win over Central Michigan this past Saturday, tying a career-high with three rushing TDs. He added two catches for a modest total of 11 yards as well. Michigan will visit South Bend to play No. 2 Notre Dame this Saturday. Hart and Michigan will have a chance to make a real statement this week, after facing Vandy and CMU. His season stats are: 50 attempts 262 yards 5.2 YPC 3 TDs / 3 catches 13 yards 4.3 YPC 0 TDs.
7)ERIK AINGE (Tennessee) Last Week: 10. After two quiet years at Tennessee (last year he completed just 45.5 percent of his throws with just five TDPs), Erik Ainge has flown out of the gate for the Vols. He led Tennessee to a 35-0 lead against then-No. 9 Cal on September 2 and finished the game with four TDPs (the last three covered 42, 80 and 50 yards). This past Saturday he was at it again, completing 24-of-29 passes for a career-high 333 yards with three more TDPs and one INT. The Vols led 31-17 in the game but Air Force scored two TDs late (the second one with 1:35 remaining after recovering an onside kick), but was stopped on the two-point conversion try, allowing the Vols to escape with a 31-30 win. While Ainge's TD throws were of the shorter variety this week (4,5 and 4 yards), he's truly been one of this season's biggest early surprises. Ainge and Tennessee get a major test this Saturday, as the seventh-ranked Gators invade Knoxville. His season stats are: 35-of-47 74.5 percent 624 yards with 7 TDPs 2 INTs.
8)KENNY IRONS (Auburn) Last Week: 7. Auburn shutout Mississippi State this past Saturday 34-0 for the team's 18th win in its last 19 SEC games. However, RB Kenny Irons saw his seven-game regular season streak of 100-yard rushing performances come to an end when he was held to just 69 yards on 21 carries (no TDs). MSU's concentration on Irons allowed FB Brad Lester to get into the end zone twice, gaining 40 yards on five attempts. Anyway, Irons will get his chance this coming Saturday when Auburn hosts No. 6 LSU. You may remember (LSU does) that Irons had a career-high 218 yards rushing in last year's 20-17 OT loss to LSU in Baton Rogue. His season stats are: 41 attempts 252 yards 6.1 YPC 1 TD / 4 catches 36 yards 9.0 YPC 0 TDs.
9)CHRIS LEAK (Florida) Last Week: NR. In his first year in Urban Meyer's offense, Leak's numbers dropped from 3,197 passing yards (29/12) in 2004 to 2,639 yards (20/6) last year. Leak seemingly has the hang of things in his second year in the offense, as he threw for a career-high 352 yards in Florida's 42-0 win over UCF this past Saturday. It was Florida's most lopsided win since a 63-3 win over Florida A&M in 2003 and its first shutout since beating Miss St 52-0 in 2001. Leak ended the game 19-of-29 with four TDPs and just one INT, while running four times for 16 yards. It marked his seventh career 300-yard game and he'll lead the Gators into their showdown with No. 13 this Saturday in Knoxville. His season stats are: 40-of-59 67.8 percent 600 yards with 7 TDPs and 2 INTs / 9 attempts 4 yards 0.4 YPC 0 TDs.
10)GARRETT WOLFE (Northern Illinois) Last Week: NR. I like to use my 10th spot to spotlight a player and this week it's Garret Wolfe. Players don't win the Heisman while playing in the MAC and Wolfe's Northern Illinois team has opened the 2006 season by starting 0-2, thereby erasing even the remotest of chances he may have had,. However, Wolfe ran 24 times for 196 yards (two rushing TDs) in Northern Illinois' 35-23 loss to Ohio (go Bobcats!). The 5-7 senior is one heckuva of a player, having rushed for 1,656 yards with 21 TDs (18 rush) in 2004 and 1,580 yards with 17 TDs (16 rush) in 2005, averaging 6.5 YPC in both seasons. He's opened the 2006 season by topping 100 yards in both games, giving him 16 career 100-yard efforts. In seven of those games he's topped the 200-yard mark, including a career-high 325 yards vs Eastern Michigan last year. His season stats are: 50 attempts 367 yards 7.3 YPC 2 TDs / 5 catches 114 yards 22.8 YPC 1 TD.
No. 8 Graham Harrell (Texas Tech)
No. 9 Michael Bush (Louisville)