2010 Heisman Trophy Rankings: Cameron Newton Moves Into The Lead

Chris HustonContributor IOctober 19, 2010

2010 Heisman Trophy Rankings: Cameron Newton Moves Into The Lead

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    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    We're seven weeks into the season, and it's time for the latest edition of Bleacher Report's 2010 Heisman Trophy Rankings, presented by Heismanpundit.com.

    The Heismanpundit.com Heisman poll is made up of 13 Heisman voters from across the country. They vote for three players each week. Tabulations are made on a 3-2-1 basis, with three points awarded for a first-place vote, two points for a second-place vote and one point for a third-place vote.

    In the past two years, the Heismanpundit poll was the most accurate in the country, picking five of the top six finishers in the Heisman vote in 2008 and the top four in 2009.

    Members of the panel include: Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel, Teddy Greenstein and Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune, Olin Buchanan and Tom Dienhart of Rivals.com, Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman, Bruce Feldman of ESPN.com, J.B. Morris of ESPN The Magazine, Austin Murphy, B.J. Schecter and Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated, plus Dick Weiss of the New York Daily News.

    Chris Huston, owner of Heismanpundit.com and a Bleacher Report contributor, coordinates and also votes in the weekly poll.

    The poll is featured here on Bleacher Report each Tuesday during the college football season.

    Here are the top players in the poll heading into Week 8...

No. 5 (tie): Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State -- 1 Point

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    Blackmon leads the nation in scoringChristian Petersen/Getty Images

    Wide receiver Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State makes his first appearance in the weekly poll, tallying one point.

    The sophomore sensation is tied for the nation's lead in touchdowns with 13 and has caught a remarkable 57 balls for 955 yards through six games. These kind of numbers haven't been seen since Michael Crabtree was roaming the Big 12. 

    Blackmon has helped the undefeated Cowboys become the surprise of the Big 12.  He's got a huge game coming up on Saturday with Nebraska, so it's a great chance to move up in these rankings. 

    While his shot at winning the Heisman is probably slim and none, he may just have the Biletnikoff Award wrapped up.

No. 5 (tie): Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford -- 1 Point

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    Luck has the Cardinal sitting prettyEzra Shaw/Getty Images

    Quarterback Andrew Luck of Stanford is also tied for fifth place with one point.

    The highly-touted NFL prospect is coming off a bye week and is currently ninth nationally in passing efficiency with a mark of 166.86.  On the season, he has 1,538 passing yards with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. 

    He's coming off a brilliant performance against USC, where he led the Cardinal on a last-minute drive for a game-winning field goal as time expired. 

    The rest of the Stanford schedule is quite conducive to a Heisman run.  There's a good chance the Cardinal could finish 11-1 or 10-2.  In that scenario, if some of the other players ahead of him falter, Luck might make it to New York.

No. 5 (tie): Terrelle Pryor, QB, Ohio State -- 1 Point

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    Pryor's Heisman hopes are shotJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor is also tied for fifth with one point.

    He and his team are coming off a rough loss to Wisconsin.  His Heisman hopes may be dashed.

    The rationale for Pryor’s candidacy was always centered around the Buckeyes being prime contenders for the national title.  The thinking was that Pryor couldn’t do it on his numbers alone.

    With Ohio State losing to Wisconsin, it looks like Pryor’s only chance at the Heisman is if he finishes out on a torrid pace and the Buckeyes work their way back into title game contention. 

    This certainly is a possibility (and maybe Pryor will shine more now that the pressure is off) but it’s not one that I would bet on.

No. 4: DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma -- 2 Points

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    Murray has scored more TDs than any other SoonerRonald Martinez/Getty Images

    Oklahoma running back DeMarco Murray checks in at No. 4 with two points.

    Murray is coming off a 20-carry, 112-yard, 2-touchdown performance against Iowa State, setting the Oklahoma career touchdown record in the process. 

    Through six games, Murray has 673 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground, with 22 catches for 170 yards and two scores through the air. 

    Those aren't the kind of numbers that bowl Heisman voters over, but they do earn him some respect and since he is a known quantity who plays for a national title contender, he is bound to garner some support in this race.

    A good performance against undefeated Missouri on Saturday could be the spark he needs to move up into the upper echelon of contenders.

No. 3: LaMichael James, RB, Oregon -- 17 Points

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    LaMichael James leads the nation in rushingSteve Dykes/Getty Images

    Oregon running back LaMichael James is in third place after collecting 17 points and one first-place vote.

    Things went about as well as they could go this past weekend for James, who did not play due to a bye week. 

    Some more candidates for the Heisman fell by the wayside, further solidifying his position as the top running back in the race.  Right now, he’s the nation’s leading rusher and he plays for the No. 1 team. 

    This week, he’ll get a chance to put an exclamation point on his front runner status with a Thursday-night game against UCLA that will get a lot of attention due to it being the first game as No. 1 in Oregon’s history. 

    The schedule the rest of the way is favorable in the sense that James will have chances to shine in a few more high-profile games, including at USC, vs. Arizona and at Oregon State to close the year.

    I believe that if the Ducks finish unbeaten and James leads the nation in rushing, he’ll win the Heisman.

No. 2: Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State -- 23 Points

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    Moore leads the nation in passing efficiencyGeoff Burke/Getty Images

    Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore is in second this week with 23 points, including four first-place votes.

    Moore’s Heisman hopes are humming along quite nicely, thank you.  He remains the candidate of last resort in that voters find him to be a perfectly acceptable choice but are not exactly rushing to proclaim him to be the most outstanding player just yet.   

    His campaign for the Heisman mirror his team’s quest for the BCS title.  It will require the more exciting players ahead of him to falter a bit for him to have a shot. 

    At the same time, he’s probably already assured himself of no worse than a third-place finish in the race.  He will appear on almost every ballot, so he’s within striking distance. 

    It helps that his numbers are quickly becoming ridiculous.  He leads the nation in passing efficiency with a mark of 190.36, which as it stands, is an NCAA record. 

    Furthermore, after throwing for 231 yards and two scores last Saturday against San Jose State, he now has 55 touchdowns and just four interceptions in his last 20 games. 

    It could well be that his numbers alone end up making his case–not to mention his status as the quarterback for an undefeated team–but it would really help him if some of the other front-runners mess up.

No. 1: Cameron Newton, QB, Auburn -- 33 Points

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    Cameron Newton is the new Heisman poll leaderKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton, who was in fifth-place last week, takes over the top spot in this week's poll with 32 points and eight first-place votes. 

    Last May, I mentioned that Newton could be a dark-horse Heisman candidate if his transition into Gus Malzahn’s offense went smoothly.  Well, I think we can safely say that it has gone very well to date. 

    Newton is flourishing in the Auburn attack and seems to be single-handedly winning games for the Tigers.   This past Saturday, Auburn beat Arkansas 65-43 behind Newton’s 188 rushing yards, 140 passing yards and four total touchdowns. 

    The Tigers have LSU up next, but I don’t think that will be too much of an obstacle. 

    It looks like Newton’s Heisman candidacy could all boil down to the showdown with Alabama at season’s end. 

    However, there is also a chance that Newton could win the Heisman even with a loss to the Tide.  In that scenario, Oregon suffers a loss or James falls off a bit statistically, but Newton plays well in a close loss to the Tide and his season numbers remain too impressive to ignore. 

    Also, if Alabama loses one more game before then, the Tigers could clinch the SEC West regardless and give Newton another chance to redeem himself in an SEC title game. 

     

    Full Poll Results, Oct. 19, 2010

    (total points, with first-place votes in parentheses)

     

    1. Cameron Newton, QB, Auburn--33 (8)

    2. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State--23 (4)

    3. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon--17 (1)

    4. DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma--2

    5 (tie). Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford--1

    5. (tie).Terrelle Pryor, QB, Ohio State--1

    5. (tie). Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State--1