College football's Week 9 is a key time for the Heisman Trophy hopefuls. With the race heating up, players can no longer afford to have a bad game if they want to have a serious shot at the bronze statue.
The current front-runner, Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton, has a hefty lead, but there are plenty of players still in the thick of this race.
We're breaking down 10 of the players who could make a major move closer to the trophy, analyzing what they've done to get to this point, how they can boost their standing this week, and how much their efforts in Week 9 can do for them. The more they can boost their profile, the higher they are on the list. Simple, right?
What He’s Done So Far: Newton has been the lifeblood of the Tigers' offense in 2010, racking up 1,364 passing yards, 1,077 rushing yards, and 27 total touchdowns (13 passing, 14 rushing). He's been the best player in the country in 2010 by a fairly significant margin, and is the Heisman frontrunner heading into this week.
What He Needs to Do this Week: Take care of business against Ole Miss. The Rebels' defense is terrible, and Newton is capable of slicing and dicing the entire thing at once. He doesn't have to be Superman, but he can't be Aquaman, either.
Trophy Boost: 2/10. Anything exceptional that Newton does from here on out is simply widening his Heisman lead. It's hard to boost your profile when you're the favorite.
What He’s Done So Far: Martinez has been one of college football's most exciting players in 2010, helping the Huskers to a 6-1 record. He's thrown for 1,046 yards, and eight touchdowns, while running for another 870 yards and 12 scores. He's a fringe Heisman candidate, at best, but could position himself for the future down the stretch in 2010.
What He Needs to Do this Week: Run roughshod over Mizzou. Martinez needs to singlehandedly beat the pants off the Tigers to even get back into the conversation, rather than skirting the fringes. Another game like last week would more than suffice.
Trophy Boost: 3/10. Even if he has a performance befitting Tim Tebow, Martinez has little chance at the bronze statue in 2010. However, big games from here on could position him as a favorite in 2011.
What He’s Done So Far: Pryor has looked like he might finally be living up to the hype that accompanied him into Ohio State. He's thrown for 1,775 yards and 18 touchdowns, while racking up a 66 percent completion rate, and throwing just six picks. When you factor in his 408 rushing yards and three ground-based touchdowns, you've got a guy who should be a Heisman favorite.
What He Needs to Do this Week: Blow Minnesota out of the Horseshoe. The Golden Gophers are pushovers in 2010, and Pryor's had a howler in the loss to Wisconsin. If Terrelle wants to be taken as a serious contender this season, he needs to have a monster game against the Gophers.
Trophy Boost: 4/10. Pryor might have had too many questionable outings this season (he also threw for just 73 yards against Illinois, but scored three total touchdowns in the game) to get back into the conversation, but we'll know for sure if he goes off this week.
What He’s Done So Far: Luck has been a sensation in 2010, throwing for 1,728 yards and 17 touchdowns, while rushing for another 253 yards and two scores. He's thrown just five interceptions in 2010, as well, and is considered a serious Heisman contender.
What He Needs to Do this Week: Stay the course against Washington. Maybe torch the Huskies' defense for 250-300 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Most importantly, avoid turning the ball over. Don't make any foolish mistakes.
Trophy Boost: 4.5/10. Luck is supposed to throw for tons of yards against Washington; the damage a game like this can do is much higher than the positive impact it can have. Still, a big game will help boost Luck's chances.
What He’s Done So Far: Cousins has run the Spartan offense to perfection in 2010, throwing for 1,948 yards, 14 touchdowns, and just four interceptions. He's managed to rack all of that up in an offense that features two strong running backs, as well.
What He Needs to Do this Week: Beat Iowa. He has to do it. Even if the Spartans win, if Edwin Baker or La'Veon Bell are the driving force behind the win, Cousins' Heisman hopes go up in smoke.
Trophy Boost: 5/10. It's a high-risk, high-reward venture for Cousins this week. Because he's such a latecomer to the trophy talk, he can't have any missteps from here forward.
What He’s Done So Far: Robinson has been the most electric playmaker in football in 2010. When he's healthy, he's just about unstoppable. He's racked up 1,319 pass yards, 1,096 rushing yards, 18 total touchdowns, and five interceptions. Once a Heisman frontrunner, Robinson's hopes have sunk with the Wolverines in the last two weeks.
What He Needs to Do this Week: Go wild against Penn State. Robinson needs to light the Nittany Lions defense up all day. I'm talking 450 total yards, a couple of touchdowns and no turnovers.
Trophy Boost: 6.5/10. Robinson can get himself back in the discussion with a big game here. Expect him to do just that. However, he's probably taken himself out of serious contention with the injuries he's sustained recently.
What He’s Done So Far: Stanzi has been one of college football's best quarterbacks in 2010, leading the Iowa Hawkeyes to within eight points of being undefeated. He's thrown for 1,732 yards and 16 touchdowns this year, and has severely cut down on his mistakes, throwing just 2 interceptions this season. Without Stanzi, Iowa would be lost.
What He Needs to Do this Week: Beat the Spartans. If Stanzi leads the Hawkeyes to the upset win over Michigan State, he has to be back in the conversation.
Trophy Boost: 7.5/10. Stanzi could really boost his stock this week, and a win would put him back in the Heisman discussion; if it doesn't, something's seriously wrong.
What He’s Done So Far: Griffin has quietly been one of the best quarterbacks in football, racking up 2,373 yards and 18 touchdowns through the air, while adding another 384 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. He's only thrown four picks this season, and manages to have solid performances, even in defeat. Rest assured that if it were a Longhorn, an aTm, or even an interlocking OU on Griffin's helmet, instead of a B, he'd be right there with Cam Newton in the Heisman race.
What He Needs to Do this Week: Beat Texas this weekend. If it's going to happen, it'll be because of Griffin's play. If he can beat the Longhorns in Austin, the Heisman race will officially have a new contender.
Trophy Boost: 8.5/10. Even if Baylor loses to Texas, if Griffin has a massive game, he'll get a Heisman boost.
What He’s Done So Far: Despite playing one fewer game than most of college football's Heisman hopefuls because of a suspension, James has been the best running back in college football in 2010. He's averaging 7.2 yards per carry, and has totalled 971 yards and 11 touchdowns in just six games. He's been held under 120 yards just once this season, and in that one, he still piled up 94 yards and a touchdown. He's been a great receiver, too, totalling 121 yards on just four catches with a touchdown.
What He Needs to Do this Week: Keep going off against USC. Beating the Trojans at the Coliseum would give James the kind of publicity he needs to take on Cam Newton in this race.
Trophy Boost: 9/10. A big game against USC guarantees James a big boost in his campaign for the Heisman. He can't win it this week, but he can get further into the conversation.
What He’s Done So Far: Gabbert's been the heart and soul of the Mizzou attack in 2010. He's totalled 1,899 yards, but has just 11 touchdowns. He's taken care of the ball, throwing just three interceptions, but there's no doubt Gabbert has put himself into the Heisman debate in 2010.
What He Needs to Do this Week: Throw some touchdown passes. Gabbert's passing yards and picks are great, but the big junior needs to find the end zone on some of his throws to get the Heisman nod. If he can do that, and beat Nebraska in Lincoln, he could find himself in New York at season's end.
Trophy Boost: 10/10. Gabbert has more to gain from a big game this weekend than anyone else in the country. It legitimizes his success in 2010, and, barring a fade down the stretch, practically punches his ticket to New York City for the ceremony.