Dion Lewis Takes Over As Andrew Luck Makes His Case on Freshman Watch List

Caleb M.Analyst INovember 19, 2009

PISCATAWAY, NJ - OCTOBER 16:  Dion Lewis #28 of the University of Pittsburgh Panthers runs against the the Rutgers University Scarlett Knights on October 16, 2009 at Rutgers Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

So as we near the end of the season, the crystal ball becomes clearer. The Heisman candidates are starting to fall into place. Bowl game matchups are beginning to shape up.

Then we have the Freshman Watch List.

The tailbacks continue to dominate this list: they make up half of it. But some quarterbacks, including Andrew Luck and Tom Savage, are beginning to make their case.

It's really a toss up at this point.

Dion Lewis. He even has Heisman votes, and CBS puts him in fourth place right now. 

LaMichael James and Bernard Pierce are the other tailbacks, both great and key components to their teams. Pierce didn't perform as well last week as he usually does, and lost his first place lead. No one has been able to hold the top spot for more than a week.

Here's how the whole list plays out:

1. Dion Lewis, RB, Pittsburgh.

Unless he gets injured, he should remain top dog the rest of the way. He put up more impressive numbers against Notre Dame, rushing for 152 yards (7.2 average) and a touchdown.

As mentioned above, he's even getting Heisman votes from CBS, and you better believe his name will be up there with the best of them. He might not win the coveted award, but he is still one of the best running backs in the nation.

Currently, Lewis has 1,291 yards and 13 touchdowns, and is the driving force behind the surging Panthers.

2t. Bernard Pierce, RB, Temple.

Pierce got no love from polls across the sports nation. He fell to sixth place in the CBS poll. But I see things differently, keeping him up near the top at number two. 

Pierce didn't have a spectacular game like usual against Akron. He only ran for 97 yards and one touchdown. His 1,308 rushing yards still tower over the totals of Lewis, James and Ryan Williams. He also has 15 touchdowns through the season.

While the wins haven't been over what you might call impressive teams, Pierce is leading the Owls towards a top 25 birth. Voters from the AP and coaches poll have been giving Temple votes. It's only a matter of time before the Owls crack the top 25.

2t. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon.

I couldn't decide whether James or Pierce was better. James and the Ducks lost last week to Stanford, pushing him out of the number one spot. But he's back up to a tie for second after killing Arizona State.

This is all while sharing time with two other running backs—Kenjon Barner and Remnae Alston Jr. He may well be sharing time with LeGarrette Blount this weekend as well. Despite it all, he continues to produce impressive numbers.

After last week's performance of 150 yards rushing and three scores, he has season totals of 1,193 yards, 11 touchdowns, while averaging seven yards a carry.

4. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford.

Andrew Luck had a huge game against UCS, helping push Stanford to a top 15 showing in the polls. 

He's a dynamite quarterback, and could really shake up the Pac-10 with wins over Oregon and USC. There's even talk of the Cardinal making the Rose Bowl.

However Luck may have a hard time passing up the three stellar running backs, though he's certainly making a name for himself.

He's passed for 2,220 yards and 13 touchdowns, while only throwing three interceptions. Luck also has 288 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.

5. Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College.

Kuechly is an outstanding freshman. But he too will find it a struggle to move up any farther with the competition being this fierce. 

Kuechly dominated Virginia last weekend, getting 13 tackles and a sack for 11 yards. So far he has 107 tackles, one sack, and a pick six.

He is actually one of the leading tacklers in the nation, and offenses are starting to fear the name "Kuechly."

6. Tom Savage, QB, Rutgers.

Savage was on the porch last week; he kicks out Ryan Williams and cracks our Freshman Watch List. 

Savage put Rutgers in the top 25 last weekend with their domination of South Florida. He threw for 194 yards and two touchdowns, as well as one interception. 

All in all he's passed for 1,535 yards, 10 touchdowns with just two picks. ESPN predicts he'll crack 2,000 yards passing by season's end.

Rutgers is an underdog in the polls; look for them to continue climbing behind the monster arm of Tom Savage.