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Heisman Trophy Top-10

   by Larry Ness - 09/25/2006

On a weekend that saw Rutgers return to the AP top-25 for the first time since the final poll of the 1976 season, I guess it's official. Almost anything's possible! Injuries to two members of last week's top-10 saw some additions and deletions at the bottom of my poll this week, plus there's been quite a shake-up among the players I ranked three through seven. However, I made no changes in my top-two, despite a less than spectacular performance by Ohio State's Troy Smith (sans one "highlight reel" play). My latest Heisman update follows.

Heisman Trophy Top-10

Monday, September 25

1)TROY SMITH (Ohio State) Last Week: 1. The No. 1-ranked Buckeyes had their hands full with Joe Pa's Nittany Lions this past Saturday. Ohio State had won 10 straight games (both SU and ATS by the way) since losing in Happy Valley last year. Revenge may have been on the Ohio State players' minds but on the field, Penn State was playing the nation's top-ranked team to a standstill. Penn State led 3-0 at the half, holding Smith and the Buckeye offense to a total of just 99 yards. Ohio State took a 7-3 lead in the third quarter and Smith's "highlight reel" 37-yard TDP (that traveled about 60 yards in the air!) to Robiskie made it 14-3 in the fourth. Two late interceptions, both returned for TDs, gave Ohio State a very deceiving 28-6 win (check back Wednesday for my Bad Beats / Lucky wins column for more). Smith had averaged 249.4 YPG passing while completing 67.5 percent of his throws (with 20 TDPs and just two INTs) in Ohio State's previous 10 games, but was held to just 115 yards passing (had averaged 256.3 in the first three games of '06) while completing 12 of 22 attempts. He had that one TDP but two INTs, after throwing just two INTs over the previous 10 games. It was not a good game for Smith but he still holds on to my top spot. Ohio State visits Iowa City this coming Saturday to face the 4-0 and 13th-ranked Hawkeyes. His season stats are: 68-of-103 66.0 percent 884 yards 8 TDPs 2 INTs.

2)ADRIAN PETERSON Last Week: 2. Peterson almost won this award as a freshman and he's made a strong case early this season, for winning it this year as a junior. Oklahoma didn't have to worry about any bad calls this week, as the Sooners led Middle Tennessee State by scores of 24-0 at the end of the first quarter and by 45-0 by the half. Peterson topped 100 yards for the fourth straight game (the 21st of his career), finishing with 128 yards on 27 carries. He had three short TD runs in the first half (3, 2 and 7 yards) and was on the sidelines after Oklahoma's first possession of the second half made the score 52-0. The final was 59-0, MTSU's largest margin of defeat since moving up to Division I-A play in 1999. Oklahoma gets this weekend off to get ready for the team's annual "Red River Shootout" with Texas in Dallas on October 7. Peterson's season stats are: 117 carries 643 yards 5.5 YPC 7 TDs / 4 catches 72 yards 18.0 YPC 1 TD.

3)BRADY QUINN (Notre Dame) Last Week: 6. W-O-W! On the 40-year anniversary of one of CFB's most famous games, the 10-10 tie between Notre Dame and Michigan State at East Lansing back in 1966, the Irish and Spartans gave us another classic to remember this past Saturday night. Brady Quinn, the Heisman front-runner entering the season, once again started slowly for the Irish. He was just 2-of-8 for six yards to open the game and ND fell behind 17-0. Quinn was pretty special after that however, finishing with 18 completions in his final 26 throws for 313 yards with five TDPs. However, the Irish still trailed by 16 points nearly mid-way through the fourth quarter. Quinn's 43-yard TDP made it 37-27 MSU with just 8:18 left and after a Stanton fumble gave ND the ball back, Quinn's fifth TDP of the game made it just 37-33 MSU with 4:57 left. Although Quinn would finish the game 20-of-36 for 319 yards with five TDPs and just one INT, he was on the sidelines when Notre Dame DB Lambert returned an interception 27 yards for the game-winning score and later sealed the win with another interception in the game's closing seconds. It marked the second straight year in which Quinn has thrown five TDPs against the Spartans and it was his first 300-yard game of the season, after topping 300 yards five times in 2005 (in four of those games he topped 400 yards!). The win leaves ND at 3-1 and ranked No.12 by the AP. The Irish will be favored in each of their next seven games (first up is Purdue visiting South Bend this Saturday), leading up to their visit to the LA Coliseum on November 25 when they'll face the Trojans. Quinn's clearly not only back in the Heisman race, he may just be the favorite again before too long. His season stats are: 92-of-158 58.2 percent 1,086 yards 11 TDPs 4 INTs / 1 rush TD.

4)CHRIS LEAK (Florida) Last Week: 5. I love the way Leak has played this year and one has to wonder what Florida Gator fans were thinking when he was booed coming off the field this past Saturday in the early fourth quarter. The Gators were in a tough spot against Kentucky. They had just won the previous week in Knoxville, had Alabama up next and had to get up for a Kentucky team they had beaten 19 straight times. Meyer must have had a tough time getting his squad fired up for this visit by the Wildcats. Anyway, trailing 7-6 in the late second quarter, Leak completed five-of-five passes on the go-ahead TD drive, that put the Gators up 12-7 at the half. Shortly after being "booed off the field" in the early fourth quarter, he returned to throw his second TDP of the game, giving the Gators their final margin of victory (27-6). Leak finished the game 15-of-26 for 267 yards with two TDPs and one INT. As mentioned earlier, Alabama visits Gainesville this Saturday. Leak's season stats are: 70-of-110 63.6 percent 1,066 yards 12 TDPs 4 INTs.

5)STEVE SLATON (West Virginia) Last Week: 3. The Mountaineers found the road a little more difficult,as after three straight home wins by the combined scores of 139-37, West Va struggled in Greenville, North Carolina against East Carolina. Despite outgaining the Pirates by a margin of 221-to-87 (just two rush yards) in the first half, West Va led just 14-7. That was due in part to QB Pat White getting intercepted twice in the end zone. While White threw for a career-high 216 yards, he also had three INTs. Slaton, who entered the game averaging 168 YPG rushing (West Va entered averaging 350 YPG rushing as a team), was held to just 80 yards on the ground in 24 attempts and did not score. As a team, the Mountaineers rushed for just 153 yards, almost 200 yards below their average! Slaton caught three passes for 35 yards as well but all-in-all, it was a very average game. The good news is the 4th-ranked Mountaineers won 27-10, giving them their 11 straight win and their sixth straight on the road. West Va is off this weekend. Slaton's season stats are: 86 carries 583 yards 6.8 YPC 6 TDs / 4 catches 47 yards 11.8 YPC 0 TDs.

6)MIKE HART (Michigan) Last Week: 4. Mike Hart was held under 100 yards rushing for the first time in four games this year, as Michigan beat Wisconsin 27-13. The Wolverines figured to be a little flat off the Notre Dame upset and lately they've had their hands full with the Badgers. Such was the case this past Saturday as the game was tied at the half, 10-all. Henne threw three INTs in the game but his third-quarter TDP put Michigan up 17-10 and Hart's five-yard TD run in the fourth gave the Wolverines a 24-10 lead. Hart finished with 91 yards on 23 carries and that one score. Up next for Michigan is a trip to the Metrodome this Saturday against the Gophers. Hart's season stats are: 104 carries 477 yards 4.6 YPC 5 TDs / 4 catches 25 yards 6.3 YPC 0 TDs.

7)GARRETT WOLFE (Northern Illinois) Last Week: 10. Wolfe not only gets to stay in my top-10 but like the Jefferson's, he's "movin' on up!" Northern Illinois opened the game against outmatched Indiana State by returning a fumble for a TD but then it was Wolfe's turn, as he scored his team's next four TDs on runs of 12, 17, one and six yards. He finished the game with 198 yards on 22 carries plus caught four passes for 42 yards. He leads the nation in rushing at 207 YPG and if you think he's undeserving of this high ranking after his team rolled over outclassed Indiana State 49-14, please remember this. The No. 1-ranked Buckeyes saw Wolfe run for 171 yards against them on September 2 (in Columbus!) while catching five passes for another 114 yards! Northern Illinois visits Ball State this Saturday. Wolfe's season stats are: 96 carries 828 yards 8.6 YPC 8 TDs / 9 catches 156 yards 17.3 YPC 1 TD.

8)MARIO MANNINGHAM (Michigan) Last Week: NR. I like to keep at least one WR in this poll and Manningham's as good a choice as any. USC's Jarrett hurt his shoulder Saturday and will be out four-to-six weeks and Ohio State's Ted Ginn Jr caught just two passes (for only 15 yards) last week vs Penn State! Manningham followed his great performance against Notre Dame two weeks ago (four catches for 137 yards with three TDs!) by hauling in seven catches for 113 yards and two more TDs in Michigan's 27-13 win over Wisconsin. Manningham's TDs against ND covered 69, 20 and 22 yards and his big-play ability was on display against Wisconsin as well, as his TD receptions went for 24 and 38 yards. That's 11 catches these last two weeks for 250 yards and five TDs! His season stats are: 16 catches 321 yards 20.1 YPC 6 TDs.

9) MARSHAWN LYNCH (California) Last Week: NR. Lynch was among the Heisman contenders at the start of the year, as Cal opened the season ranked No. 9 in the AP poll, the school's highest ranking since 1952! However, he was rendered useless in the Bears' season-opener at Tennessee, when the Vols jumped out to a 35-0 lead. Lynch did finish with 74 yards in just 12 carries in that game though. In Cal's 49-21 rout of ASU this past Saturday, Lynch topped the 100-yard mark for the third straight week (giving him 12 career 100-yard games), gaining 124 yards on 17 carries while adding 33 more yards on two receptions, including a TD. Lynch played behind JJ Arrington (he topped 2,000 YR that season!) back in 2004 but still gained 628 yards while averaging 8.8 YPC. Last year Lynch fought injuries but still gained 1,246 yards, averaging 6.4 YPC. Adding in this year's results has Lynch averaging 7.1 YPC while gaining 2,323 yards in his career. Cal visits Corvallis this Saturday to meet the Beavers. His season stats are: 62 carries 449 yards 7.2 YPC 3 TDs / 8 catches 64 yards 8.0 YPC 1 TD.

10)KEVIN KOLB (Houston) Last Week: NR. Why not Kolb? He's got the Cougars off to the school's first 4-0 start since 1990, after they beat Oklahoma State this past Saturday, 34-25. Kolb completed 21-of-28 passes for 313 yards with four TDPs and no INTs. His first three TD throws were no gimme's either, covering 42, 33 and 27 yards. Many may not know this (I didn't!) but Kolb is the active career leader for Division I-A in completions, passing yards and total offense! We'll find out what he's made of this Saturday, as the Cougars visit the Hurricanes in Miami. His season stats are: 94-of-135 69.6 percent 1,193 yards 12 TDPs 1 INTs.

Dropped out:

No. 7 Dwayne Jarrett (USC)
No. 8 Ted Ginn, Jr (Ohio State)
No. 9 Kenny Irons (Auburn)

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