The clock was winding down on the first half in the Labor Day game pitting Florida State against Miami. Miami was up 14-10, and FSU quarterback Christian Ponder's hail mary into the end zone was intercepted. Ponder has not looked back since.
Questions surround the lack of hype for FSU's junior quarterback, Christian Ponder. His numbers are the best in the state of Florida. But with the worst defense FSU has fielded in years, he is not getting the recognition that Tim Tebow is getting.
But the Gators are 7-0.
In reality it should be Charlie Strong's defense and the Gators. Not Tim Tebow and the Gators. Strong's defense has allowed only four touchdowns and averages 229 yards a game. Perhaps the entire defense deserves Heisman recognition over Tebow.
FSU fans are sitting in pain that finally the Seminoles have their quarterback, but yet their defense is constantly giving up big plays. Ponder has 12 touchdowns to that one interception on the year. He ranks No. 7 in the nation in passing.
Would Ponder be in a more serious Heisman contention if the FSU defense wasn't the way it is?
Ponder has passed for 2,176 yards on the year, already eclipsing his total passing yards for the entire 2008 season (2,006).
The teams that Ponder and Tebow are each going up against make a difference, too. Down 18 points to one of the nation's top defenses at UNC, Ponder showed why he is worthy of Heisman talk. His 98-yard touchdown pass to Rod Owens tied the longest pass in FSU history. FSU's opponents this season so far have a record of 36-16 while Florida has faced teams that are 26-24.
It seems the last few games are setting career highs for Ponder. He threw for a career -high five touchdowns against Georgia Tech. The next game, against one of the best passing defenses in the nation, Ponder threw for a career high 395 yards.
Winning brings recognition. The Gators are undefeated, which is why Tebow is the front runner on most Heisman lists. But are his stats really on par for a Heisman?
Tebow is averaging 165 yards passing a game with 1,159 passing yards on the year. He has eight touchdowns to four interceptions. Two of those interceptions were against Mississippi State, by the same guy, who is a true freshman...who returned both for touchdowns.
Tebow's 466 yards rushing and six touchdowns on the ground are clearly his strength this season, but for being past the mid-point of the year, even those numbers are not of quality for the Heisman.
But it is those numbers that are winning the games for Florida. His short runs are winning the games and that is what is keeping Tim Tebow in the media as the best player in the nation.
But he is not even the best quarterback in the state of Florida.