2010 Heisman Trophy Rankings: Cameron Newton Takes Commanding Lead
We're eight 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 9...
No. 5 (tie): Matt Barkley, QB, USC: 1 Point
Barkley is off to a hot start
Harry How/Getty Images
USC quarterback Matt Barkley makes his season debut in the poll, tying for fifth with one point.
The sophomore is off to a hot start thus far, throwing for 20 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
He'll get a chance to boost his nascent candidacy this Saturday when the Trojans host No. 1 Oregon. A big game against the Ducks would probably shoot him into the top four candidates.
The one factor that is unknown at the moment is how voters would feel about choosing a player who is on a team sanctioned by the NCAA.
If Barkley keeps playing at his current level, we'll soon find out!
No. 5 (tie): Terrelle Pryor, QB, Ohio State: 1 Point
Pryor led the Buckeyes to a bounce-back win over Purdue
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor checks in with one point to tie for fifth in this week's survey.
Pryor bounced back from a tough loss to Wisconsin with a solid game against Purdue, throwing for 270 yards and three touchdowns (with two picks).
His passing numbers have improved considerably, and he now has 1,775 yards with 18 touchdowns and six interceptions on the season—stats that, through eight games, approximate his totals from all of last year.
The chances of him making a late run at the Heisman depend on the players in front of him faltering and Ohio State playing its way back into title contention.
Not likely, but stranger things have happened.
No. 5 (tie): Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State: 1 Point
Blackmon could break a couple NCAA records before he is through
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon is also tied for fifth with one point in this week's poll.
Simply put, the sophomore's season to date has been out of this world.
Blackmon already has 62 catches for 1,112 yards and 14 touchdowns through seven games. He’s on pace to finish with 115 catches for 2,067 yards and 26 touchdowns. The 2,067 yards would be seven more than the NCAA record set by Trevor Insley of Nevada in 1999, while the 26 touchdowns would be just one shy of Troy Edwards’ season mark set in 1998.
And don’t think that Blackmon is putting up his numbers against just anyone—he exploited the Nebraska secondary and future first-round cornerback Prince Amukamara to the tune of 157 yards and two touchdowns on just five catches last Saturday.
It's not easy for a wide receiver to make inroads in the Heisman race, but Blackmon could get to New York if he keeps up his torrid pace.
No. 4: Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan: 2 Points
Robinson has been slowed by injury
Leon Halip/Getty Images
Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson checks in with two points to take fourth place in this week's poll.
How soon we forget how brilliant Robinson has been this year.
Despite a perceived major drop-off, he's still second nationally in rushing at 157 yards per game, and he's 17th in passing efficiency with a rating of 159.
But losses the last two weeks by Michigan have caused the bottom to fall out of his once-rock solid Heisman support. And injuries have waylaid his record-setting statistics for now.
Don't count out the sophomore phenom just yet—he's got quite a few big games in him before he's through.
No. 3: Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State: 17 Points
Moore has won his last 20 starts
Geoff Burke/Getty Images
Boise State's Kellen Moore is third in this week's poll with 17 points, including one first-place vote.
Moore and his team were idle last week, but the Broncos have a Tuesday night matchup against Louisiana Tech that will give him a chance to play well without being distracted by any other games.
His campaign for the Heisman mirrors 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 now stands is an NCAA record. Furthermore, he now has 55 touchdowns and just four interceptions in his last 20 games. His record as a starter is 32-1, and BSU has now won 20 straight under his leadership.
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 the players ahead of him—especially Newton—screw up.
No. 2: LaMichael James, RB, Oregon: 18 Points
James leads the nation in rushing
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Oregon's LaMichael James checks in with 18 points to take second in this week's tally.
James helped his cause by having a nice game in a romp over UCLA last Thursday (123 YDS 2 TD), but whatever ground he gained in the race was given back after Newton’s performance against LSU.
James has a chance to get some of that momentum back this Saturday when the Ducks take on USC. If he has a monster game against the Trojans and the Ducks roll, he’ll be in good shape.
It helps that he leads the nation in rushing at 162 yards per game. On the year, he has 971 yards and 11 touchdowns.
However, the buzz around James pales in comparison to all the talk of Cameron Newton at the moment. A modern-day quarterback who can run and pass—and who is a physical specimen at that—seems especially hard for voters to ignore.
James will have to be extra special from here on out if he wants to catch Newton.
No. 1: Cameron Newton, QB, Auburn: 38 Points
Newton leads the Heisman race for the second-straight week
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Auburn's Cameron Newton leads the poll for the second straight week. He totaled 38 points and collected 12 of the 13 first-place votes.
It’s been quite a journey for Newton. The last player to come straight from junior college and make such a splash in the Heisman race was O.J. Simpson, who finished a close second to Gary Beban in 1967.
Well, Newton’s 49-yard run against LSU was certainly Simpson-esque in the way he weaved through the Tiger defense. That run and the 217 rushing yards he put up on LSU have pushed him into the front of this watch list. Looking at Auburn’s remaining schedule, it looks like he’ll be in good shape in this race right up until the last game against Alabama.
On the year, he has 1,077 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns, and 1,364 passing yards and 13 touchdowns. He's also third nationally in passing efficiency.
I believe he can clinch the trophy by playing well against the Tide, win or lose. If he leads the Tigers to a win there, followed by an SEC title game victory, he’ll capture the Heisman in a runaway. If he plays well but Auburn loses to Alabama, he’ll still be the favorite heading into the ceremony, though the vote will be much closer. If he plays poorly in the run-up to that game, or the Tide defense shuts him down, that will open the door for other candidates to snatch the Heisman away from him.
But for now, it's Newton's Heisman to lose.
FULL POLL RESULTS, 10-26-2010
Total points, with first-place votes in parentheses
1. Cameron Newton, QB, Auburn—38 (12)
2. LaMichael James, Oregon—18
3. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State—17 (1)
4. Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan—2
5. (tie) Matt Barkley, QB, USC—1
5. (tie) Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State—1
5. (tie) Terrelle Pryor, QB, Ohio State—1