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Hesiman Trophy Top-10

   by Larry Ness - 09/18/2006

Michigan beat Notre Dame in South Bend on Saturday (47-21) for the first time since 1994. The 47 points scored on the Irish were the second-most ever allowed by Notre Dame in a home game (Purdue score 51 points in 1960). As for the game's Heisman implications, if there was a likely winner on the playing field this past Saturday, he was wearing Michigan's famous maize and blue colors not Notre Dame's equally recognizable gold and blue. My latest Heisman update follows.

Heisman Trophy Top-10
Monday, September 18

1)TROY SMITH (Ohio State) Last Week: 1. Coming off last week's showdown win over Texas and with its Big-10 opener against Penn State looming next week, it was understandable if Ohio State came out a little flat this past Saturday against Cincinnati. The spark was provided this week by the Ohio State defense, as the Buckeyes sacked Cincinnati QB Dustin Grutza eight times, while holding the Bearcats to minus-four yards rushing in 22 attempts. Trailing 7-6 in the late second quarter, Troy Smith put the Buckeyes ahead with a 12-yard TDP to Ginn with just three minutes remaining in the half. He was six-of-six on that 80-yard drive and actually scampered for a TD that was nullified by a penalty, prior to tossing his first TDP of the game. He added a nine-yard TDP to Ginn in the third quarter and finished off the 37-7 win by going 21-of-30 for 203 yards with two TDPs and again, no INTs. Smith has now led Ohio State to 10 straight wins, completing 67.5 percent of his throws for an average of 249.4 YPG with 20 TDPs and just two INTs. The one thing missing from Smith's arsenal this year, is the threat of him running. In leading Ohio St on a seven-game winning streak to finish last year, Smith averaged 50.7 YPG (4.9 YPC) and scored six TDs. This year, he's got negative yards rushing in three games! However, he's CLEARLY the Heisman front-runner at this point of the season! His season stats are: 56-of-81 69.1 percent 769 yards 7 TDPs 0 INTs.

2ADRIAN PETERSON (Oklahoma) Last Week: 3. Talk about a gutsy effort! AP got little help from QB Paul Thompson, yet despite eight and nine-man fronts, he kept taking the punishment of the Oregon defense. Almost single-handedly, he brought Oklahoma back from deficits of 13-6 at the half and 20-13 entering the fourth quarter, to put the Sooners up 33-20 with just a few minutes left. A great Oregon comeback, buoyed by a number of highly-questionable calls, gave the Ducks the eventual win, 34-33. However, that couldn't diminish Peterson's effort, as he gained 145 yards rushing in the fourth quarter alone and finished with his fifth career 200-yard game (he now has 20 career 100-yard games), rushing for 211 yards on 33 carries. Peterson finished second in the Heisman voting as a freshman two years ago (highest finish ever by a freshman) and after three games this year, has produced a very impressive resume. Oklahoma gets a breather this week as the Sooners host Middle Tennessee State (another 200-yard game?). His season stats are: 90 carries 515 yards 5.7 YPC 4 TDs / 3 catches 75 yards 25.0 YPC 1 TD.

3)STEVE SLATON (West Virginia) Last Week: 4. Slaton scored on TD runs of 38 and 37 yards, as the Mountaineers opened a 28-0 first-quarter lead over the Terrapins last Thursday night. Slaton did not score again in West Virginia's 45-24 win but had 167 of his 195 yards (21 carries) by halftime. The sophomore has been spectacular in West Va's 3-0 start (Mountaineers have outscored their opponents 139-37), topping 100 yards in all three games (had 203 in the opener). West Va joins Ohio State with 10 straight wins as both schools trail TCU, which owns the nation's longest active winning streak at 13. Slaton played in just one of West Va's first four games last year but still finished with 1,128 YR and 19 TDs (17 rushing). He's now topped 100 yards in eight of his last 10 games, with West Va winning each game in which he's topped the 100-yard mark. The Mountaineers begin a stretch of four road games over their next five this Saturday, when they visit East Carolina. His season stats are: 62 carries 503 yards 8.1 YPC 6 TDs / 1 catch 12 yards 12.0 YPC 0 TDs.

4)MIKE HART (Michigan) Last Week: 6. Hart helped Michigan end a six-year losing streak in road openers this past Saturday, as the Wolverines trounced Notre Dame in South Bend, 47-21. Henne and Manningham connected on three first-half TDPs (69,20 and 22 yards), as Michigan put Notre Dame in a 34-7 hole right before the half. Hart may not have been the game's star but he was surely its workhorse, as he gained 124 yards on 31 tough carries, scoring once. It was a big game for Hart, considering the fact that in four previous games vs Michigan's two biggest rivals (ND and OSU), Hart had gained a total of just 97 yards on 35 carries (2.8 YPC). It marked his third straight 100-yard game this year, giving him 13 in his career (Michigan is 12-1!). Michigan returns to the Big House this Saturday to face Wisconsin, which has opened 3-0 in the post-Barry Alvarez era. His season stats are: 81 carries 386 yards 4.8 YPC 4 TDs / 3 catches 13 yards 4.3 YPC 0 TDs.

5)CHRIS LEAK (Florida) Last Week: 9. Leak struggled in Urban Meyer's offense last year as his passing yards dropped from 3,197 as a sophomore to 2,639 as a junior plus his TD-to-INT ratio went from 29-12 to 20-6. However, all seems right this year, as evidenced by Florida's 3-0 start after Leak led the Gators back from a 17-7 deficit at Knoxville on Saturday night to beat the Vols 21-20. Leak threw two second-half TDPs, the last of which gave Florida a 21-20 lead with 6:30 left. Leak doesn't have the running ability of former Meyer QB Alex Smith (Utah) but the addition of Florida freshman QB Tim Tebow (ran seven times for 29 yards while converting four FDs against the Vols) may just have solved that problem. Leak finished the game 15-of-25 for 199 yards with three TDPs and one INT. Florida is home this coming Saturday to face Kentucky. His season stats are: 55-of-84 65.5 percent 799 yards 10 TDPs 3 INTs.

6)BRADY QUINN (Notre Dame) Last Week: 2. I'm not sure how far others will drop Brady but I'm not sure I've dropped him far enough myself! He was extremely average in the opener against Ga Tech and downright TERRIBLE this past Saturday vs Michigan. The Brady we saw last year when he averaged 362.9 YPG passing (four games of better than 400 yards!) over Notre Dame's final nine regular season games (completed 64.9 percent with 28 TDPs and just six INTs), has not been visible so far in 2006. Brady was not able to lead Notre Dame to a FD in the game's first quarter and on ND's first drive had a tipped pass intercepted and returned for a TD. The game's scoring was capped, when a Brady fumble was returned 54 yards for a TD in the fourth quarter. Overall, Brady had three INTs and that one fumble, while completing 24-of-48 passes for 234 yards with three TDs. ND was down 34-7 and Brady was just 3-of-13 for 14 yards, when he led the Irish to a late first-half TD drive in which he went 7-of-7 for 71 yards. Too little too late? I think so! The "not-so" Fighting Irish visit East Lansing this Saturday to take on Michigan State and a Spartan team that's beaten the Irish SEVEN of the last nine times they've met. Lose here and Brady's Heisman chances are D-O-N-E! His season stats are: 72-of-122 59.0 percent 767 yards 6 TDPs 3 INTs / one rush TD.

7)DWAYNE JARRETT (USC) Last Week: NR. USC has won three of the last four Heismans (barring the outcome of the Reggie Bush scandal!), so it's only fair that I include at least one Trojan in my top-10 (Booty may soon join the fray as well!). The Trojans took care of Nebraska Saturday, beating the 'Huskers 28-10. Jarrett caught a 12-yard TDP on the final play of the first quarter to give USC its first lead and added a second TD catch (a five-yarder) in the third quarter, giving the Trojans a 21-3 lead. Jarrett finished the game with a career-tying high of 11 catches for 136 yards. It's his 10th career 100-yard receiving game and the 10th time he's caught at least two TDPs in a contest. He's got 31 career TD catches, a new USC record that leaves him just one shy of the Pac-10 record of 32, held by Stanford's Ken Margerum. USC plays at Arizona this Saturday. His season stats are: 16 catches 171 yards 10.7 YPC 2 TDs (just two games).

8)TED GINN JR (Ohio State) Last Week: 5. Ginn grabbed two TD catches again last week but totaled just 33 yards on five catches. I'm still waiting for him to explode but it hasn't happened (he could use a game like Michigan's Manningham!). In fact, he doesn't even lead his own team in receptions, as Gonzalez has 17 to Ginn's 14. While Jarrett has 31 career TD catches and 10 career 100-yard games (162 catches for 2,294 yards), Ginn's career numbers are 90 catches for 1,415 yards with 11 TDs (three 100-yard games). Ginn may be part of a national championship team this year but it's far more likely that he's playing WITH the Heisman winner this year than being it himself! His season stats are: 14 catches 253 yards 18.1 YPC 5 TDs.

9)KENNY IRONS (Auburn) Last Week: 8. Now I realize that being successful against the LSU defense is no easy chore (the Tigers have held four straight opponents to less than 200 yards of offense while allowing a total of just 16 points) but Irons' 25-carry 70-yard effort just doesn' t cut it. It also looks bad when one considers he had a 218-yard game (his career high!) against LSU last year, in Baton Rogue. The week before, Irons saw his seven-game regular season streak of 100-yard efforts stopped by Miss St, as the Bulldogs held him to just 69 yards on 21 carries. More to the point, when Auburn got a HUGE break near the end of Saturday's game from the officials, who overturned a pass interference call on fourth down to give Auburn the ball, Irons couldn't come through. Auburn gave Irons the ball on three straight plays but he gained just three yards, allowing LSU another chance at the win. That fact LSU didn't convert, is irrelevant. Auburn hosts Buffalo this Saturday and while I would expect a big game from Irons, it likely won't matter much in this poll. His season stats are: 66 carries 322 yards 4.9 YPC 1 TD / 4 catches 36 yards 9.0 YPC 0 TDs.

10)GARRETT WOLFE (Northern Illinois) Last week: 10. I had planned to use another player other than Garrett in my 10-hole this week but this guy is some player! He scored the game's first TD last Saturday against Buffalo on a 49-yard run and then added a 68-yard TD run and the first play of the 4th quarter. In Northern Illinois' 31-13 win, Garrett ran for 263 yards on 24 carries with those two TDs (lets see how Irons compares this Saturday vs the Bulls?). It marked his 17th career 100-yard game and his eighth of 200-yards or more. Don't forget, in the team's season-opened this year, he ran for 171 yards against Ohio State (you may have heard of them!) plus caught five passes for 114 yards (one TD) vs the Buckeyes as well! Northern Illinois hosts Indiana State this Saturday. His season stats are: 74 carries 630 yards 8.5 YPC 4 TDs / 5 catches 114 yards 22.8 YPC 1 TD.

Dropped out:

No. 7 Erik Ainge (Tenn)

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