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Heisman Trophy Top-10

   by Larry Ness - 10/02/2006

The month of September came to a close this past Saturday and the Ohio State Buckeyes have clearly established themselves as the nation's No. 1 team. Three of the team's first five wins have come over ranked opponents with two of those wins coming on the road. OSU beat then-No. 2 Texas (defending champs) in Austin back on September 9 (24-7) and last Saturday night trounced No. 13 Iowa by the score of 38-17. QB Troy Smith has now led OSU to 12 straight wins (12-0 ATS as well) and enters the month of October as the Heisman front-runner. My entire Heisman top-10 follows.

Heisman Top-10
Monday, October 2

1) TROY SMITH (Ohio State) Last Week: 1. Smith threw two TDPs in the game's first half, as OSU led Iowa 21-10 at the half last Saturday night in Iowa City. The Buckeyes pulled away in the second half as they opened the third quarter on an 11-play 80-yard TD drive (Smith's third TDP of the game) and followed with a FG on their next drive that not only put them up 31-10 but took eight minutes off the clock. Later in the fourth quarter, Smith tossed his career-high fourth TDP to end OSU's scoring for the night. In the 38-17 win, Smith finished by completing 16-of-25 passes for 186 yards with four TDPs and no INTs. He even ran for 20 yards, something he's rarely done this year. The win gives Smith a career mark of 10-1 vs ranked opponents. In leading Ohio State to 12 straight wins (the nation's longest active winning streak after TCU lost last Thursday to BYU), he's completed 66.2 percent of his throws for an average of 232.9 YPG with 24 TDPs and just four INTs. How's that for a Heisman candidate? Ohio State goes 'bowling' next week, as the Falcons of Bowling Green visit Columbus. Smith's season stats are: 84-of-128 65.6 percent 1,070 yards 12 TDPs 2 INTs / 22 carries 24 yards 1.1 YPC 0 TDs.

2) ADRIAN PETERSON (Oklahoma). Last Week: 2. AP and the Oklahoma Sooners had the week off and I'll leave the junior in my second spot pending his upcoming performance against Texas this coming Saturday in the annual "Red River Shootout." As I've mentioned before, Peterson almost won this award as a freshman in 2004, finishing second to USC's Matt Leinart (highest finish ever by a freshman). Peterson has 21 career 100 yard games, including five of 200 yards or better. In his freshman season he ran 32 times for 225 yards vs the Longhorns as the Sooners won 12-0. However, a less than 100 percent Peterson had just 10 yards on three carries last year, as Texas routed Oklahoma 45-12. 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: 3. Quinn was "licking his chops" in anticipation of facing the Boilermakers this past Saturday, as Purdue entered the game as the nation's fifth-worst pass defense. He didn't disappoint, connecting on 24 of his first 28 attempts, as the Irish jumped out to a 28-7 lead before halftime. Quinn threw his second TDP of the game in the third quarter (both to McKnight), as Notre Dame went up 35-14. RB Darius Walker took it from there, finishing with 146 YR (his first 100-yard game of '06) and adding 73 more yards on nine catches. Quinn finished Notre Dame's 35-21 win with 29 completions in 38 attempts for 316 yards with two TDPs and no INTs. It marked his second straight 300-yard game and the ninth of his career. Notre Dame hosts Stanford this Saturday. Quinn's season stats are: 121-of-196 61.7 percent 1,402 yards 13 TDPs 4 INTs / 1 rush TD.

4) CHRIS LEAK (Florida) Last Week: 4. Florida fell behind Alabama quickly this past Saturday 10-0, on a 50-yard fumble return for a TD and a FG. However, spurred by Leak's career-long 45-yard scamper, the Gators closed the score to 10-7 right before the half, as Tim Tebow capped a 12-play 95-yard drive with a two-yard TD run. Leak capped a seven-yard 80-yard drive with his first TDP of the game in the third quarter, giving the Gators a 14-10 lead. In the fourth quarter, with Florida up just 14-13, he threw his second TDP game, a 21-yarder following a Florida interception that had given the Gators a FD on the Alabama 34. Nelson's 70-yard TD interception return made the final, 28-13. Leak finished the game 14-of-20 for 174 yards with two TDPs and no INTs. He added 31 yards on six attempts. There is no rest for the weary however, as the Gators host No. 9 LSU this Saturday. Leak's season stats are: 84-of-130 64.6 percent 1,240 yards 14 TDPs 4 INTs.

5) MIKE HART (Michigan) Last Week: 6. I love this guy. He runs hard every game and is playing for arguably the second-best team in the nation in Michigan. Michigan beat Minnesota for the 11th straight time in the Metrodome last Saturday night, 28-14. Chad Henne threw three first-half TDPs as the Wolverines opened a 21-7 lead. A one-yard TD run by Grady gave the Wolverines a 28-7 lead late in the fourth quarter and Michigan held on for the 28-14 win. Hart carried 31 times for 195 yards, including a 54-yard run on his final carry of the game, as Michigan was able to run out the clock. It marked the fourth time he's topped 100-yards this season and gives him 14 career 100-yard games (Michigan is 13-1 when he tops 100!). He also added one catch for 31 yards. The Wolverines will host the Spartans this Saturday. Hart's season stats are: 135 carries 672 yards 5.0 YPC 5 TDs / 5 catches 56 yards 1.2 YPC 0 TDs.

6) STEVE SLATON (West Virginia) Last Week: 5. I jumped Hart over Slaton this past week, as Slaton and the Mountaineers had the week off. Slaton is coming of his worst game of the year, as the Mountaineers struggled to get past East Carolina two Saturdays ago, 27-10. 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. 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. West Va is on the road again this Saturday, at Mississippi State. Slaton's season stats are: 86 carries 583 yards 6.8 YPC 6 TDs / 4 catches 47 yards 11.8 YPC 0 TDs.

7) GARRETT WOLFE (Northern Illinois) Last week: 7. This guy just won't go away. Wolfe ran for a career-high 353 yards (31 carries) this past Saturday as Northern Illinois won its third straight game, after opening the season 0-2. Wolfe's previous career-high was a 325-yard effort vs Eastern Michigan last year. He scored the game's first TD on a 51-yard run and added TD runs of 48 and 53 (no cheapies for this guy!), as the Huskies pulled away from a 14-all tie at the half with Ball State to win, 40-28. It marked his 19th career 100-yard game and his ninth game of 200 or more. He's now topped the 100-yard mark in all five games this year (don't forget his 171 vs Ohio State as well as 114 more in receiving yards on five catches) and 10 straight going back to last year. He's averaged 226.3 YPG over that 10-game stretch and with 4,417 yards, is the career-leader among active players. Of course his 236.2 YPG average this year is also tops, as is his 12 TDs (11 rushing). Northern Illinois plays at winless Miami-Ohio this Saturday. Wolfe's season stats are: 127 carries 1,181 yards 9.3 YPC 11 TDs / 12 catches 159 yards 13.3 YPC 1 TD.

8) MARIO MANNINGHAM (Michigan). Last Week: 8. Manningham entered the 2006 season off a fairly unimpressive 2005 season in which he caught just 27 balls for 433 yards (16.0 YPC) with six TDs. He was quiet in Michigan's first two games as QB Henne struggled (had just five catches for 71 yards and one TD) but exploded on the national scene with three TD catches in Michigan's 47-21 rout of Notre Dame three Saturdays ago. He continued to shine this past weekend, catching five passes for 131 yards with another TD in Michigan's win over Minnesota. That makes 16 catches these last three weeks for 381 yards (23.8 YPC) with six TDs. His average TD has covered 36.2 yards, with none being shorter than 20 yards.Michigan hosts Michigan State this Saturday. Manningham's season stats are: 21 catches 452 yards 21.5 YPC 7 TDs.

9) MARSHAWN LYNCH (California) Last Week: 9. Cal opened the season ranked No. 9 in the AP but found itself down 35-0 late in the third quarter at Tennessee in its season opener. Since that 35-18 loss, the Bears have won four straight games, averaging 43.5 PPG, never failing to top 40 points in any contest. This past Saturday, the Bears won at Corvallis, 41-13. QB Nate Longshore threw for 341 yards and four TDPs and has completed 69.4 percent of his passes, averaged 284 YPG and tossed 14 TDPs against just three INTs, in the team's winning streak. However, it's Cal RB Marshawn Lynch who is my choice at the number nine spot this week. Lynch topped the 100-yard mark for the fourth straight game (has 13 in his career) with 106 yards on just 17 carries (one TD). He also caught three passes for 59 yards with two going for TDs. In 346 career attempts, Lynch has averaged 7.0 YPC! Cal, now ranked 16th, will host No. 11 Oregon on Saturday in a HUGE game! Lynch's season stats are: 79 carries 555 yards 7.0 YPC 4 TDs / 11 catches 123 yards 11.2 YPC 3 TDs.

10) RAY RICE (Rutgers) Last Week: NR. I like to use the 10-hole for someone new and why not honor Rutgers sophomore RB Ray Rice? As a freshman, Rice ran for 1,120 yards (5.7 YPC and 5 TDs), as he led Rutgers to the school's second-ever bowl appearance and a 7-5 mark. Rutgers began last week ranked No. 23 in the AP poll, the school's first ranking since the 1976 team finished 11-0. This past Friday night, the Scarlet Knights survived in Tampa 22-20 against South Florida, when the Bulls failed on a late two-point conversion try. As for Rice, he ran 35 times for 202 yards with two TDs, topping the 200-yard mark for the second time this year (had 201 at North Carolina in the team's season-opener). It marks his seventh straight 100-yard game (a school record) and the 10th of his career. His career-high came at U Conn last season, when he ran for 217 yards. It should be noted that all three of his career 200-yard games have come on the road! The nation's second-leading rusher this year (161.2 YPG) gets an off week as Rutgers plays next on October 14 at Navy. His season stats are: 141 carries 806 yards 5.7 YPC 11 TDs / 3 catches 26 yards 8.7 YPC 0 TDs.

Dropped Out:

No. 10 Kevin Kolb (Houston)

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