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Heisman Trophy Race: The 5 Favorites After Cam Newton

Justin EisenbandCorrespondent INovember 15, 2010

Heisman Trophy Race: The 5 Favorites After Cam Newton

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    With legal controversies surrounding Cameron Newton the past few weeks, the overwhelming Heisman Trophy favorite from Auburn has taken a serious hit in credibility.

    Voters will certainly be conscious of the recent events surrounding Newton, especially the fact that Newton's father sought a "pay-for-play" scheme. The Reggie Bush saga where the former USC running back and Heisman Trophy winner was stripped of his award for receiving improper benefits will also certainly be fresh in the minds of voters.

    While Newton has not been disciplined by the NCAA yet, if he does receive any kind of suspension it will essentially defeat any kind of Heisman Trophy candidacy for the Tigers quarterback.

    Without Cam Newton in the race, there are still plenty of deserving candidates.

    Here are the top five candidates after Newton:

Kellen Moore

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    Kellen Moore has the Boise State Broncos absolutely dominating this season. The undefeated Broncos still will need some help with at least a loss from Auburn or Oregon, maybe both, in order to get into the BCS National Championship Game this year.

    Still, Moore has not gone unnoticed.

    His 191.2 quarterback rating leads the NCAA first division, 7.8 points higher than Cameron Newton and 14 points higher than the next best quarterback.

    Additionally, Moore's 24 touchdowns on the season puts him at seventh in college football in that category. The junior quarterback also leads the nation in yards per attempt at 10.7 yds/att.

    Last but not least, Moore could have the best intangibles of any quarterback in football. His intelligence and pocket presence are off the charts. Moore has been able to limit his interceptions to just four picks and his sacks to just three this season.

    The knock on Moore will continue to be his schedule. Most of the defenses Moore has played against, with the exception of Virginia Tech, have been quite soft. Even if Boise State does find a way into the BCS National Championship Game, Heisman voters will not have an opportunity to see Moore against a top defense.

    Boise State's toughest remaining game is Nevada, a team built on offense rather than defense. Nevada's defense, along with every other defense Moore has faced, is not within the top 40 defenses in the country.

    Moore will probably have to convince voters with style points in the next few weeks if he has any chance of pulling down the hardware.

Terrelle Pryor

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    The early-season Heisman favorite has supported his campaign with a very solid year.

    The Ohio State dual-threat quarterback is fifth in the NCAA in quarterback rating with 166.4 Pryor has led the Buckeyes by throwing for 22 touchdowns and 2,136 passing yards on the season, compared to eight interceptions.

    However, if Pryor is to make a case, it will not be due to his pocket passing skills.

    Pryor's ability to move out of the pocket and throw on the run has been one of the biggest reason for Ohio State's offensive success this season.

    In the last few weeks, Pryor will have the opportunity to show voters that he can not only demonstrate his skills to will his team to victory, but also that he can do it against tough defenses. Next week, Ohio State plays Iowa on the road. The Hawkeyes boast the seventh-best defense in the country.

    Of course, Michigan also remains on the schedule. While the Wolverines's defense has struggled this season, it would be unwise to doubt the intensity or energy that Michigan will unquestionably come out with after yet another disappointing season.

    Pryor recently announced that he plans on returning for his senior season. If he doesn't win this season, he will most certainly be on the list of favorites to begin next season.

Denard Robinson

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    Robinson is yet another player who will not impress many with his abilities from the pocket. At only 6' tall, Robinson does not project as the typical NFL quarterback.

    Neither did Tim Tebow, though, and Heisman voters had no problem with that.

    Robinson is 14th in quarterback rating, yet his 14 touchdowns to nine interceptions is a ratio that will not impress many voters.

    So why is Robinson still in the race?

    Despite an astronomical drop-off in statistics in the last five games, the Michigan sophomore quarterback has still had one of the best rushing seasons of all time for a quarterback.

    Robinson has eclipsed 190 rushing yards four times this season. In Michigan's September 11th game against Notre Dame, Robinson accounted for over 500 yards of offense by himself.

    His 1,417 rushing yards are just five behind leader and fellow Heisman candidate LaMichael James of Oregon. He has also added 12 rushing touchdowns to his 14 passing touchdowns this season.

    Robinson is not likely to capture the hearts of voters this season; however, with three years of eligibility remaining, Robinson will undoubtedly be a popular preseason pick next year.

LaMichael James

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    Oregon's season outlook looked bleak when quarterback Jeremiah Masoli was kicked off the team for theft. It turns out that Masoli did his team a favor.

    In Masoli's absence as focal point of the Ducks offense, super sophomore LaMichael James has graduated from a good freshman season to become the best running back in college football.

    James leads all players in rushing yards with 1,422 yards. He has been held under 100 yards in just two games this season and never under 90 yards. James's 17 touchdowns tie him with Cameron Newton for the most rushing touchdowns in college football, and he leads all running backs in that category.

    James may not be a big threat as a receiver out of the backfield, but his running ability clearly places him atop the running backs in the country.

    After big games against Stanford and USC earlier this year, it would not be surprising to see James make a late push for the Heisman with a 200-yard game against either Arizona or Oregon State

Justin Blackmon

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    Wide receivers rarely seem to garner much attention in the Heisman race, but Justin Blackmon has certainly been impressive this season.

    Blackmon leads all receivers with 1,430 reception yards on the season and 16 touchdown catches. Blackmon, along with Kendall Hunter (who also deserves some Heisman attention), has led Oklahoma State to a one-loss season despite what could best be characterized as a leaky 66th-rated defense.

    Blackmon has not been held to less than 125 yards in a single game this season. Additionally, he has found pay dirt in each game and has accumulated six games with two or more touchdowns.

    It will be difficult for Blackmon to convince voters that a wide receiver can win the Heisman. A wide receiver has not won the award since 1991 when Desmond Howard took down the hardware.

    Still, as yet another sophomore on this list, Blackmon will have at least one more year to put together a run at the Heisman Trophy. Blackmon can't really do any more to impress voters. It will come down to whether voters are prepared to give the Heisman to a receiver, especially one that could eclipse 1,700 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Honorable Mention

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    These are some names that must be mentioned as outside shots:

    Andrew Luck, QB Stanford

    Luck could be the top professional prospect in college football.

    Ryan Mallet, QB, Arkansas

    Mallet is seventh is passing yards and fourth in quarterback rating despite one of the toughest schedules in the country.

    Ricky Stanzi, QB, Iowa

    The senior's candidacy took a major hit when Iowa took its third loss against Northwestern this weekend.

    Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina

    Lattimore has been one of the most impressive freshmen in the country. He is at least one year away from serious contention.

    Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State

    Hunter lags right behind LaMichael James as the best running back in the country. It would be tough to imagine Hunter receiving the award over James, though.

    Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma

    Same case for Broyles. An incredibly impressive season pales in comparison to that of Justin Blackmon.

     

    Justin Eisenband is a Featured Columnist and Bleacher Report Intern. To read more of his articles, visit his profile at http://bleacherreport.com/users/352849-justin-eisenband

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