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by Larry Ness - 09/21/2010
1) TERRELLE PRYOR (Ohio State) Last Week: 1. Terrelle Pryor completed 16 straight passes this past Saturday, setting a new school record (previous record was 12, most recently by Craig Krenzel 2002) in a 43-7 rout of Ohio U. It's the second-longest in Big Ten history as well, behind Iowa's Chuck Long, who completed 22 in a row back in 1984. I guess Ohio State remembered that two years ago the Bobcats led the Buckeyes 14-12 heading into the fourth quarter before OSU pulled out a 26-14 victory. This game was never in doubt, as the Buckeyes racked up 17 points in each of the first two quarters. Pryor completed 22-of-29 for 235 yards and two TDs for the game. He added eight rushes for 35 yards and a TD. However, Pryor's performance was far from perfect and he knows it. Twice he was picked off on looping, medium-length passes over the middle. "We got better as a team," Pryor said. "But those two picks were unacceptable. I'm mad about both of them." Pryor is now 22-4 as Ohio State's starting QB and the Buckeyes remain a solid No. 2 behind Alabama in the latest AP poll,as they get set to host Eastern Michigan next Saturday in the first-ever meeting between the two schools. The Eagles won't be much of a challenge, as they enter on a 15-game losing streak (second-longest active in the nation). Eastern Michigan is 0-26 all-time vs current Big 10 teams while Ohio State entered the 2010 season 48-2 in its previous 50 non-conference home games (now 51-2). By the way, the two losses came to No. 2 Texas in 2005 and No. 3 USC last year. OSU opened as six-TD favorites. Pryor gets my nod as the early-season Heisman favorite after three weeks. His season stats are: 51-of-81 for 715 yards (63.0 percent) 6 TDs 2 INTs / 36 carries for 165 yards (4.6 YPC) 2 TDs.
2) KELLEN MOORE (Boise State) Last Week: 2. The Broncos visited Wyoming on Saturday night for their second game of the 2010 season. The school opened the year with a 33-30 win over then-No. 10 Va Tech on Labor Day night but saw that win tarnished when the Hokies lost 21-16 at home a week ago Saturday to James Madison. Boise State faithful must have cringed early on Saturday when they saw Va Tech losing again at home, 28-21 to East Carolina, late in the third quarter. However, Tech rebounded to win 49-28 (at least no more major damage was done to Boise state's resume). All the Broncos can do is win (they've learned to do that fairly well) and let the chips fall where they may. The same can be said of Kellen Moore's Heisman hopes. After a 12-day rest, Moore and Co. made short work of the Cowboys in Laramie, winning 51-6 for the school's 16th straight win and its 13th straight road win (longest active streak). Boise State outgained Wyoming 648-135 in total yards, as Moore went 20-of-30 for 370 yards with two TDs (of 58 and 49 yards) and one interception (he's human). After throwing for 25 TDs and 10 INTs in his freshman season (which ended with the lone loss of his career to TCU), he's thrown for 44 TDs and just four INTs in 499 passing attempts. His 370 yards passing was the 7th 300-yard game of his career (has two 400-yards games, including a career high 414 at Nevada as freshman in '08). He's now 28-1 as a starter but once again he and his teammates will have something to prove when they host No. 24 Oregon State on the famous "blue turf" this coming Saturday night (8:00 ET on ABC). Boise ended the last decade as college football's winningest program (112-17, .868) and that record included a 63-2 home mark in which the Broncos lost to only Washington State (41-20 in 2001) and Boston College (27-21 in the MPC Computers Bowl in 2005, played in Boise). The Broncos have won 26 straight home games since that bowl loss to BC (second-longest active streak to Oklahoma's 33 straight home wins) and the early number has them favored by 17 points. Moore's season stats are: 43-of-68 for 585 yards (63.2 percent) 5 TDs 1 INT.
3) DENARD ROBINSON (Michigan) Last Week: 3. Robinson remains the unquestioned star of the 2010 CFB season to-date. The sophomore beat out last year's starter (Tate Forcier) plus highly touted freshman Devin Gardner and has made "on the hot seat" head coach Rich Rodriguez look great. He accounted for 383 yards and two TDs in his first game as the Wolverines' starting QB. He led Michigan to a 30-10 win over U Conn on September 4, completing 19-of-22 passes for 186 yards and one TD (zero INTs). He also ran 29 times for 197 yards and another TD. Robinson became the sixth FBS player since 2005 with 185 rushing yards and 185 passing yards in a game. He then ran for 258 yards at Notre Dame on Se[ptember 11, the fifth-best rushing total in Michigan history (the best by a QB at Michigan and the best-ever by any QB in Big 10 history, as well). He ran for two TDs, one an 87-yarder which was the longest scoring run in Notre Dame Stadium history. He added 244 yards through the air (24-of-40 with one TD and no INTs) for a total of 502 yards (a Michigan record). He became the ninth player in NCAA history to run and pass for over 200 yards in the same game vs the Irish. The 20th-ranked Wolverines were expected to have a 'breather' this past Saturday at home vs U Mass and most thought Robinson would see limited duty. Not! "Shoelace" led Michigan to TDs on five straight drives from late in the second quarter to early in the fourth, giving Michigan a 42-24 lead with just over 11 minutes left in the game. The Wolverines needed almost every point, as the Minutemen finally succumbed, 42-37. Robinson was 10-of-14 for 241 yards passing (two TDs / one INT) plus ran 17 times for 104 yards and another score. Robinson leads the nation in rushing (186.3 YPG) and in total offense (410.0 YPG). In 150 touches, he has just a single turnover (his lone interception). Bowling Green is up next for Michigan and the 'Wolves are 26-1 vs current MAC teams but Rich-Rod will remember the lone loss well. Michigan lost 13-10 at home to Toledo back in 2008, during his 'nightmare' 3-8 first season in Ann Arbor. Robinson's season stats are: 53-of-76 for 671 yards (69.7 percent) 4 TDs and 1 INT / 74 carries for 559 yards (7.6 YPC) 4 TDs.
4) MARK INGRAM (Alabama) Last Week: NR. Ingram didn't participate in Alabama's season-opening 48-3 win over San Jose State or the Tide's second game, a 24-3 win over Penn State. No one can deny Ingram's pedigree but Alabama averaged 218.5 YPG on 5.8 YPC without him. Ingram made his 2010 debut this past Saturday and broke off a 48-yard run in his first carry. Ingram would run only nine times but gain 151 yards while scoring two TDs, as Alabama beat Duke 62-13, the school's highest scoring game in 19 years (since also scoring 62 against Tulane back in 1991). The win was Alabama's 17th straight and sets up arguably next week's most important game, the No. 1 Tide's visit to Fayetteville to play No. 12 Arkansas ('Bama is favored by about a TD). Ingram becomes the first running back from a BCS conference to gain over 150 yards on fewer than 10 carries in the last five seasons, in topping 100 yards in game for the 11th time in his career. It seems highly unlikely that Ingram can win back-to-back Heismans after missing Alabama's first two games. However, there are just not many legitimate contenders at this stage of the season not to list the defending champ in my top-five. I will note though, that Ingram was held to 50 yards on 17 carries (2.9 YPC) in last year's 35-7 Alabama home win over Arkansas.
5) ANDREW LUCK (Stanford) Last Week: NR. In my "keep an eye on" segment last week I opined, "How about these four Pac-10 QBs who have combined for 25 TD passes without a single interception in 219 attempts?" The group included USC's Matt Barkley (7-0 ratio), Cal's Kevin Riley (7-0), Stanford's Andrew Luck (6-0) and Washington's Jake Locker (5-0). Riley's Cal team got crushed 56-31 at Nevada last Friday with Riley throwing three interceptions plus Jake Locker's Washington team not only was humbled 56-21 at home by Nebraska on Saturday, but the man many predict will be the first QB taken in April's NFL Draft completed just four of his 20 pass attempts for 71 yards with one TD and two INTs. His 20.0 completion percentage tied for the third-worst completion percentage by an QB with at least 20 pass attempts in a game since 2004 (ooops). USC's Barkley completed 17-of-26 passes for two TDs in the Trojans' 32-21 win at Minnesota (has two-plus TDs in all three games this season) but also threw his first two interceptions of the season. The man who stood out from this pack after Saturday's games were through was Stanford sophomore Andrew Luck. As a freshman (56.3 percent for 2,574 yards with 13 TDs and just four INTs) he led the Cardinal to their first bowl appearance last season since 2001, although it's fair to say Toby Gerhart had a lot to do with that, as well. The Cardinal routed Wake Forest 68-24 late Saturday night to move to 3-0, just the fifth time in the last 36 seasons that Stanford has opened 3-0. The Cardinal last started 3-0 back in that 2001 season. Luck completed 17-of-23 passes for 207 yards with four TDs and no INTs. He also ran for 69 yards, including a 52-yard TD. The Cardinal have beaten only Sacramento St, UCLA and Wake Forest but Saturday night's point total matches the 68 points Stanford ran up on San Jose State in 1968. The team's 155 points through three games (51.3 PPG ranks 3rd in the nation in 2010) represents the best offensive start to a season for Stanford since it scored 164 points in the first three games of 1923 (a little before my time). The Cardinal (and Luck) get a huge showcase game this coming Saturday at South Bend vs Notre Dame. This marks the 14th consecutive year in which these two schools have met, with Stanford ending a seven-game losing streak to Notre Dame by beating the Irish 45-38 in Palo Alto last season. Gerhart ran for 205 yards and three TDs in last year's game and almost won the Heisman. Is it Luck's turn this year? I'm stretching here but I had to have someone occupy the fifth spot! Luck's season stats are: 45-of-70 for 674 yards (67.4 percent) 10 TDs 0 INTs / 13 carries for 140 yards (10.8 YPC) 1 TD.
IN TROUBLE / WHAT HAPPENED? Case Keenum of Houston owns great career numbers and entered this year within easy reach of Graham Harrell's career TD mark of 134 (Keenum began 2010 with 102) and also Dan LeFevour's 150 TDs accounted for record (passing and rushing TDs), as he opened this season with 122. I've noted any number of his other achievements these last few weeks but Keenum's 2010 season so far, can only be described as a bust! The Cougars beat UTEP 54-24 on September 10 but Keenum completed just 15-of-24 passes for 279 yards without a TD pass (one INT). He was injured late in the third quarter of that game, with the Cougars leading 37-17 when he was intercepted and tried to make a tackle on the play. He missed, was slow to get up and did not return. It was déjà vu all over gain this past Saturday at UCLA, which came in 0-2. Houston moved into the AP poll at No. 23 after its win over UTEP but trailed UCLA 21-3 late in the second quarter. Keenum was intercepted inside the UCLA 10-yard line and was again shook up trying to make a tackle. He would leaving the game with an injury, for the second straight week. He completed just 10-of-18 passes fro 83 yards without a TD and two INTs. He saw his school-record streak of at least one TD pass in 31 consecutive games end vs UTEP and now it's two straight games without one. He entered the 2010 season having topped 300 yards passing in 25 of his previous 28 games but now has gone three straight games without reaching that mark. What's his status? It's too early to tell but Keenum's Heisman's hopes are done. Here's hoping he's not hurt badly and can make a run at those all-time passing records (Timmy Chang's 17,072 career passing yards record may be safe). Oklahoma State set a school record for total offense in a 65-28 victory against Tulsa on Saturday night. However, it was QB Brandon Weeden, not RB Kendall Hunter, who led the way. I had Hunter No. 5 on my list last week (Keenum was No. 4), after he opened with 414 yards rushing in OSU's first two games (had 257 on September 4 vs Washington State). Last Saturday night, Weeden threw for 409 yards and six TDs (in just over a half), as OSU gained 722 total yards, breaking the old record of 717 set against Kansas during Barry Sanders' Heisman Trophy season in 1988. Hunter carried a modest 11 times for only 59 yards and did not score. He still ranks third in the nation in rushing (157.7 YPG) but a dark horse candidate like him can't afford anymore 59-yard games. The Cowboys get next Saturday off but then host Texas A&M On Thursday September 30. That national TV audience would be a good spot for Hunter to "make a statement!"
KEEP AN EYE ON: LaMichael James (Oregon). James rushed for 1,546 yards last season (6.7 YPC / 14 rush TDs) to set a new Pac-10 freshman record. However, he was kept out of this season's opener against New Mexico while he served a one-game suspension for offseason misconduct. James returned on September 11 in Oregon's 48-13 victory at Tennessee, rushing for 134 yards and a score. He made that effort look pedestrian on Saturday, rushing for a career-high 227 yards on 14 carries with two TDs in No. 5 Oregon's easy 69-0 win over Portland State. Oregon's 528 yards on the ground surpassed the school record of 465 set at Washington in 2007. Only one other Pac 10 player has run for 200 or more yards on as few attempts as James had Saturday since 2004, and that was Jahvid Best of Cal in '08. Some may remember that James carried just 11 times in his first two games of his freshman season (2009) but then topped 100 yards in NINE of Oregon's final 10 regular season games (high of 183 vs USC). How good is this year's Oregon team? The Ducks have yet to be really tested but they've scored 189 points in three games, an average of 63.0 PPG, just over a point per minute (1.05). Oregon opens its Pac 10 season next Saturday at Arizona State. In last year's 44-21 win (in Eugene), James ran for 150 yards and three TDs. His season stats are: 30 carries for 361 yards (12.0 YPC) 3 TDs.
My next Heisman report will be available on Monday, September 27.