2010 Heisman Trophy Rankings: Cam Newton in Control With 2 Games To Go

Chris HustonContributor INovember 23, 2010

2010 Heisman Trophy Rankings: Cam Newton in Control With 2 Games To Go

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    NEW YORK - DECEMBER 12:  The Heisman trophy awarded to Running back Mark Ingram #22 of the Alabama Crimson Tide at a press conference after  he was named the 75th Heisman Trophy winner at the Marriott Marquis on December 12, 2009 in New York City.  (Photo
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    We're 12 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 13.

No. 6. Andy Dalton, QB, TCU: 1 Point

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    SALT LAKE CITY, UT - NOVEMBER 6: Quarterback Andy Dalton #14 of the TCU Horned Frogs throws a pass against the Utah Utes during the second half of an NCAA Football game November 6, 2010 at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah. TCU Beat Utah 47-7.
    George Frey/Getty Images

    TCU senior quarterback Andy Dalton checks in at No. 6 this week with one point.

    Dalton is the leader of a team that is poised to go undefeated and could have an outside shot at a BCS title bid.  Whatever happens, everyone acknowledges what a great career and season Dalton has had and this accounts for his presence on this list. 

    Dalton is fifth nationally in passing efficiency at 163.95, and he has 23 touchdowns and six interceptions to go with 2,482 passing yards and 415 rushing yards.

    Don't look for Dalton to get to New York, but it's likely he'll end up in the top seven of the vote.

No. 5. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State: 3 Points

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    WACO, TX - OCTOBER 24:  Justin Blackmon #81 and Cooper Nicholas #89 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys celebrate a touchdown in front of Jordan Lake #21 of the Baylor Bears at Floyd Casey Stadium on October 24, 2009 in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/G
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon is fifth this week with three points.

    Blackmon is having the best season by a receiver in recent memory.  That's saying a lot considering the fine crop of receivers playing this year and such recent luminaries as Michael Crabtree and Larry Fitzgerald.

    In 10 games (he missed one due to suspension), he has 94 catches for 1,560 yards and 17 touchdowns.  He is averaging 156 receiving yards per game, which is the most by any receiver in the last 10 years. 

    With three games left, he's on pace to finish with an astounding 121 catches for 2,010 yards and 23 touchdowns—and that could come despite having missed a game.

    He'd be a shoo-in to get to New York in any other season, but he came into the year as an unknown and it's very difficult for pure receivers who don't also return punts and kicks to gain traction in the Heisman race. 

    However, he's got a chance to join Crabtree and Fitzgerald as a top five finisher in the final vote.

No. 4. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford: 8 Points

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    BERKELEY, CA - NOVEMBER 20:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Stanford Cardinal in action during their game against the California Golden Bears at California Memorial Stadium on November 20, 2010 in Berkeley, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck continues to move up, totaling eight points this week to place fourth.

    When we look back at the point where Luck made his move in the Heisman race, we'll see that it came during the first quarter of Stanford's game against Cal, when the Cardinal quarterback rumbled 58 yards and ran over a Cal defender along the way.  It was a highlight that ran much of the day on the networks and gave Luck a boost of support among the Heisman electorate.

    Not that this was his only season highlight.  Luck has been outstanding for the Cardinal, leading them to their best season in school history and putting them on the verge of a possible BCS berth.

    On the season, Luck has completed 70 percent of his passes for 2,740 yards with 24 touchdowns and seven interceptions.  He's also rushed for 445 yards and three scores.  Many are now touting him as a lock to be the first player taken in the next NFL draft.

    There's a good shot he'll finish in the top three or four of the Heisman vote, too.

No. 3. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon: 15 Points

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    BERKELEY, CA - NOVEMBER 13:  LaMichael James #21 of the Oregon Ducks in action during their game against the California Golden Bears  at California Memorial Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Berkeley, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Oregon's LaMichael James is third this week with 15 points, including one first-place vote.

    The byproduct of all the hype over the Cam Newton allegations, as well as the focus of Boise State’s upstart BCS aspirations, is that not many people are talking up James for the Heisman right now. 

    He still leads the nation in rushing at 158 yards per game and he’s likely to finish in that spot, but he hasn’t been that impressive in his last two games, averaging just 106 rushing yards and 3.9 yards per carry.  On the season, he has 1,422 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns.  However, there is still some time to make a late surge. 

    The Ducks take on a ranked Arizona team on Friday, with their matchup coming not long after the Alabama-Auburn game concludes.  It will be a great opportunity for Heisman voters to compare the candidates side by side, with all the performances still fresh in their minds. 

    If Newton lays an egg against Bama, James can really make up a lot of ground in the race by going off against the Wildcats shortly after.  I think that James needs to crack the 200-yard barrier one more time this season to have a shot at winning, and there’s no better time to do it than against Arizona. 

No. 2. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State: 18 Points

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    BOISE, ID - NOVEMBER 19:  Kellen Moore #11 of the Boise State Broncos passes against the Fresno State Bulldogs at Bronco Stadium on November 19, 2010 in Boise, Idaho.  (Photo by Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images)
    Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images

    Kellen Moore of Boise State is second this week with 18 points, including one first-place vote.

    I don’t think Moore’s candidacy could have gone much better than it has.  He opened the season with a dramatic game-winning drive over Virginia Tech.  His team tore through its schedule with ease—just as it was supposed to.  Moore leads the nation in passing efficiency and has excellent numbers.  He has completed at least 70 percent of his passes in eight straight games.  He’s been showcased on national television almost every week, and his Broncos are undefeated and still have a shot at a BCS title game berth.  Oh, and the seemingly unbeatable front runner has NCAA issues that could yet fester and sink his candidacy.  All in all, things are going swimmingly.   

    This past week, Moore continued his impressive play by hitting 27 of 38 passes for 333 yards and four touchdowns with one interception.  On the season, he has 2,921 yards, 28 touchdowns and just five picks.

    But the ultimate dream scenario has a chance to come about on Friday.  That’s because the nation will be treated to a back-to-back-to-back smorgasbord of Heisman candidates.  After Alabama-Auburn comes Oregon-Arizona, and then Boise State vs. a ranked Nevada team.  What if either Auburn or Oregon go down, leaving the door open for Boise State to possibly move into position for a BCS title game berth with an impressive win over the Wolfpack?   

    The whole college football world will stay up to watch and that could give Moore the stage he needs to show he’s the best pick for the Heisman (especially if Auburn loses). 

    I have a feeling it will be a momentous day, regardless of the outcome.

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

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    AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 13:  Quarterback Cameron Newton #2 of the Auburn Tigers celebrates after a touchdown against the Georgia Bulldogs at Jordan-Hare Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Cameron Newton again leads the Heisman Poll with 33 points, including 11 first-place votes.

    It was a good week for Newton, even though he didn’t play.  That’s because the previous week’s din over the allegations against him seemed to die down a bit.  The whiff of scandal still exists, but it’s not dominating the coverage as it was before. 

    Some voters—maybe as much as 20 percent—have dropped him from their ballots, but the vast majority appear to be giving him the benefit of the doubt.  Now, he has two games left in which to leave an impression. 

    The big tilt against Alabama on Thanksgiving Friday will be watched by much of the country.  Obviously, a poor performance in a loss to the Tide would complicate things.  It might give those voters who were reluctantly behind Newton enough cover to pick another candidate.  But if Auburn wins, Newton will remain the favorite regardless of how he plays. 

    At this point, voters already know he’s an exceptional player—remember, he's the first 2,000/1,000 player in SEC history—and if he can merely lead his team to a win—which would, after all, give Auburn an undefeated regular season—he’ll get a lot of the credit. 

    Should he muster an amazing performance against Alabama, we should be able to pretty much declare this race for Newton.  Barring any action by Auburn or the NCAA, or a disastrous game against the Tide, he appears to be a shoo-in for the Heisman.  

    Full Poll Results, 11-23-2010

    first-place votes in parentheses

    1. Cameron Newton, QB, Auburn—33 (11)
    2. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State—18 (1)
    3. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon—15 (1)
    4. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford—8
    5. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State—3
    6. Andy Dalton, QB, TCU—1