Heisman Hopefuls: A Blindfolded Look at the Candidates
In theory, the Heisman Trophy is supposed to go to the best college football player in the country. In practice, it most often goes to the best player, usually the quarterback, on the regular season's best team.
My beef is that the Heisman is an individual award, while football is a team sport. The winner of the Heisman should make his team better, but it's not imperative that he lead them to a national title.
My criteria for are twofold:
First, the winner has to have outstanding statistics. Second, his team must be competitive for a conference championship—but they don't have to win it.
The player's team should have at least two quality wins and no more than two bad losses. The player must perform well in those losses to stay in the hunt.
With those rules in place, I present to you my Top 10 players and their stats. I'm not going to reveal the names until the end—the better to judge them fairly, without being seduced by hype.
Candidate #1 - QB
149-223 passing; 66.8 completion percentage; 1,712 yards; 15 TD; 4 INT
188 rushing yards; 3 TD
1,900 all-purpose yards; 18 TD
Candidate #2 - QB
160-255 passing; 62.7 completion percentage; 1,857 yards; 15 TD; 5 INT
28 rushing yards; TD
1,885 all-purpose yards; 16 TD
Candidate #3 - WR
28 receptions; 312 yards; 2 TD
5 rushes; 101 rushing yards; 1 TD
95 return yards; 2 TD
508 all-purpose yards; 5 TD
Candidate #4 - QB
97-148 passing; 65.5 completion percentage; 1,455 yards; 13 TD; 3 INT
500 rushing yards; 9 TD
1,955 all-purpose yards; 22 TD
Candidate #5 - QB
97-140 passing; 69.3 completion percentage; 1,238 yards; 12 TD; 2 INT
308 rushing yards; 5 TD
1,546 all-purpose yards; 17 TD
Candidate #6 - RB
779 rushing yards; 7 TD
56 receiving yards
42 passing yards; TD
877 all-purpose yards; 8 TD
Candidate #7 - RB
976 rushing yards; 10 TD
36 receiving yards
1,012 all-purpose yards; 10 TD
Candidate #8 - QB
135-207 passing; 65.2 completion percentage; 1,536 yards; 18 TD; 2 INT
101 rushing yards; 2 TD
1,435 all-purpose yards; 20 TD
Candidate #9 - WR
32 receptions; 513 yards; 3 TD
27 rushes; 185 yards; TD
698 all-purpose yards; 4 TD
Candidate #10 - QB
67-121 passing; 55.4 completion percentage; 817 yards; 4 TD; 3 INT
51 rushing yards; TD
868 all-purpose yards; 5 TD
And the identities...
Candidate #1 is Missouri's Chase Daniel.
The Tigers have been off to a surprising start thanks to their QB. Among the other signal callers on the list, Daniel is second in passing yards, all-purpose yards, and touchdowns.
Mizzou has two good victories—over Illinois and Nebraska. As long as they don't suffer any major letdowns and Daniel continues his impressive play, he could see an invite to New York.
Candidate #2 is Matt Ryan of Boston College.
The Golden Eagles are off to an unexpected perfect start. Their biggest wins have come against Georgia Tech and Wake Forest, which means Ryan will need to lead his team to a victory against either Virginia Tech or FSU to stay in the top half of the race.
Candidate #3 is Desmond Howard's favorite kick returner, DeSean Jackson of Cal.
Jackson has put up very subpar numbers. Sure, his two biggest games were against Tennessee and Oregon, but a Heisman winner cannot take games off.
For Jackson to really be deserving, he'll need to emulate his numbers from the Oregon game throughout the remainder of the season.
Tebow leads the contenders in all-purpose yards and in total touchdowns. The biggest knock on the Gator QB is his sophomore status, and his team's two losses.
Fortunately, those losses were by an average of 3.5 points, and one of them was on the road against the top-ranked team in country.
If Tebow can continue to produce as he has, he'll be invited to the ceremony. I think he'll need a rematch against LSU to have any shot at taking home the trophy, though.
Candidate No. 5 is Dennis Dixon of Oregon.
In my eyes, Dixon played himself out of the Heisman race in the loss to Cal. He doesn't have enough passing or rushing yards to be a serious contender at this point.
I'm not saying he has no chance—I'm just saying he needs to improve his numbers.
Candidate #6 is the preseason favorite, Darren McFadden of Arkansas.
McFadden has the numbers, but he'll need to will his Razorbacks to at least two victories against Auburn, Tennessee, South Carolina, and LSU.
If Arkansas is out of the SEC West race by Week Seven, McFadden can say goodbye to the trophy.
Candidate #7 is Mike Hart of Michigan.
Yes, Hart—of the same Michigan team that lost to Appalachian State and was blown out by Oregon at home.
Those are two bad losses.
Good wins? I guess you can count Penn State as one, but Hart will need to take the Wolverines into their game against Ohio State with the Big Ten on the line.
Hart does have the best stats of the top RBs, so winning out isn't entirely necessary...but he'll need to top 2,000 yards to have a serious chance of winning.
Candidate #8 is Andre' Woodson of Kentucky.
Given his marginal running ability, Woodson will need to play flawlessly against LSU and Florida in the coming weeks. Winning these games isn't as important as performing at his best, since most voters will recognize the lack of talent surrounding the QB.
If he has another three-turnover game like his last one against South Carolina, you can go ahead and cross Woodson's name off the list.
Candidate #9 is Percy Harvin of Florida, a player no one's talked much about.
Harvin's statistics are better than DeSean Jackson's, but Harvin doesn't return kicks. Urban Meyer has teased the media by saying he'd let Percy handle kickoffs, but why bench the best returner in college football, Brandon James?
Harvin may never be a serious candidate, but he's building his case for next year—when he and Tebow may be the country's two best players
Candidate #10 is Matt Flynn of LSU.
Flynn isn't really a candidate. I included him here to show that if the season were to end today, the award wouldn't go to the QB of the country's best team.
And that's a good thing.
Based on what I'm hearing from the national media, McFadden and Jackson seem to be the two current favorites.
If you look at the stats, though, they aren't even the best players at their respective positions.
Hart is going to suffer from the Week One loss no matter what happens the rest of the way. Ryan, Dixon, Woodson, and Daniel need to play better than they have to really have a shot.
In my opinion, the award should go to Tebow at this point.
Here's hoping the voters break with tradition and finally get a clue this year.
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