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1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Last Week: 227 passing yards & 3 TDs in win vs. UCLA.
Outlook: This season, you hear about the Big Ten having a down year and the problems in the Big 12. However, with the exception of expansion, you don’t hear much about the Pac-12. Maybe the west coast is a blessing in disguise because the Pac-12 isn’t very strong this year.
The biggest benefactors are Oregon, Stanford, and Luck himself. I don’t see a single team capable of challenging either of those two programs. Therefore, both are likely BCS Bowl bound, which makes Luck an even stronger Heisman candidate than he already is. I know the national media is talking about how wide-open this race is, but in reality, Luck is sitting pretty.
2. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
Last Week: 208 total yards & 2 TDs in win at No. 12 Florida.
Outlook: Are you buying Richardson yet? The Alabama RB has been No. 2 on my list for the last three weeks and his performance against Florida only reinforces my opinion of him. He’s currently Luck’s biggest threat to the Heisman. He ran for 181 yards and a pair of scores Saturday night in a road victory over the Gators.
What happens if Alabama plays for the national title and Richardson’s season surpasses the year Mark Ingram had in 09? I think it’s a realistic possibility right now and a question the voters may have to ponder in December.
3. Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin
Last Week: 287 total yards & 3 TDs (1 rushing) in win vs. No. 8 Nebraska.
Outlook: Look, Nebraska is a Big Ten program in name only. They’ll be outsiders until they get their feet wet. As a result, the Big Ten wanted Wisconsin to make a statement Saturday night. You just can’t let the new kid show you up on primetime. Simply put, the Badgers don’t dominate the Huskers without Wilson. They may not even win that game.
By definition, the Heisman recognizes the most outstanding player in college football. I’m not sure Wilson is the most outstanding player, but he may be the most valuable player in college football. With him, the Badgers are a national title contender. Without him, they’d be happy with a 9-win season in a weak conference. He’s moved the goal posts in Madison.
4. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Last Week: 346 passing yards, 5 TDs, & 1 INT in loss at Kansas State.
Outlook: Griffin picked a heck of a time to throw is first INT. With less than five minutes remaining, Baylor’s star QB threw an INT deep inside their territory. Kansas State cashed in with the go-ahead field goal minutes later. One poor play isn’t enough to knock Griffin from the top five, though.
In fact, his path to the Heisman reminds me of Tim Tebow’s path in 08. The Gators played in the Capital One Bowl that season, so it’s not as if Florida was a juggernaut at that time. Like those Gators, Baylor‘s not winning a conference championship, but they’re good enough to remain relevant.
5. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State
Last Week: 142 passing yards, 2 TDs, & 2 INTs in win vs. Nevada.
Outlook: Moore’s margin of error is so small that he can’t afford many performances like the one he gave against Nevada. He turned the ball over twice and threw for fewer than 200 yards passing.
I like Moore, but his Heisman candidacy is currently overrated. The Broncos aren’t as good as they were a year ago and Moore’s competition at QB is heating up. Can you really give Moore the Heisman over Luck or Wilson? I don’t think you can if those two respective players continue to play as well as they have.
6. Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan
Last Week: 220 total yards & 3 TDs (1 rushing) in win vs. Minnesota.
Outlook: I don’t want to jump the gun too soon, but I’m buying Michigan in 2011. Their schedule is a cakewalk, especially with Ohio State and Michigan State not playing as well as advertised. Personally, I believe the Wolverines could play for the Big Ten championship.
A matchup of Robinson vs. Wilson would certainly draw headlines and the winner may emerge with an invite to New York. I know I’m thinking ahead, but this is not the 2010 Michigan Wolverines. Mark my words; they won’t collapse as they did a year ago.
7. Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
Last Week: 425 passing yards, 5 TDs, & 1 INT in win vs. Ball State.
Outlook: Dropping Jones a ranking has more to do with the players above him than his play. As you may expect, the Sooners embarrassed Ball State, defeating them 62-6. There is no such thing as a meaningless win, but nobody is talking about this game two months from now.
Nevertheless, Jones threw for 400-plus yards for the second consecutive week and he’s positioning himself well for a midseason run at the award. Don’t be surprise if he cracks the top five by mid October.
On the Bubble
LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State