Heisman Trophy Watch: Cam Newton, Kellen Moore, Andrew Luck Lead the Way
The Heisman Trophy has been under scrutiny in recent weeks, with the climax occurring just a few short months ago, when the 2005 recipient, Reggie Bush, forfeited his after an investigation revealed he accepted improper benefits during his time at USC.
Now, new investigations involving Auburn quarterback Cam Newton have put the NCAA in the same predicament.
In 2010, the preseason front-runners for the award included Washington quarterback Jake Locker, who many believed would have been the consensus No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft, had he entered following his junior year.
This year's front-runners have changed dramatically over the first few weeks of the season, and this slideshow takes a look at the 2010 hopefuls.
QB Cam Newton-Auburn Tigers
Despite the recent allegations of accepting improper benefits for choosing Auburn, Newton has played absolutely lights-out this season.
He has played above and beyond any other player at any position on the field, and he has led the Auburn Tigers to a 12-0 record.
Newton has not only been a threat as a passer, posting a completion percentage of 68.2, while connecting on 135 passes for 2,921 yards with 28 touchdowns. He has also thrown just five interceptions.
In addition to his threat as a passer, he has rushed 206 times for 1,297 yards, finding the end zone 17 times with his feet.
Newton has accounted for 38 touchdowns this year, and despite the allegations, he is the front runner for the Heisman Trophy.
QB Kellen Moore-Boise State Broncos
Kellen Moore, the quarterback of the Boise State Broncos, has played outstanding throughout his entire collegiate career, and led the Broncos to a 10-0 record for the 2010 season, leaving many to believe that Boise State may earn a chance at a BCS Bowl bid.
However, a loss to Nevada last night certainly sealed the deal on any hopes Boise State had to make it that far.
Despite the loss, Moore still played great, throwing for 333 yards and tossing four touchdowns.
Nonetheless, Moore has still played at a Heisman level this year, completing 201 of his 280 passes for 2,921 yards with 29 touchdowns and five interceptions.
WR Justin Blackmon-Oklahoma State Cowboys
With the high-profile receivers such as Alabama's Julio Jones, or Georgia's A.J. Green overshadowing many solid receivers, Justin Blackmon may not get the Heisman voters' love that he would had he played for a high-profile program.
Blackmon has been a threat against every defense, and has caught 94 passes for 1,560 yards and 17 touchdowns, showing that the loss of Sean Canfield and Dez Bryant wasn't as huge a blow to the Oklahoma State Cowboys many believed it would be.
Oklahoma State currently holds a 10-1 record and face off against Oklahoma this weekend.
QB Andrew Luck-Stanford Cardinal
Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck has been highly touted as the premier passer in the NCAA, and looks to be the first quarterback taken off the board in April's draft.
Luck has led the Stanford Cardinal to a 10-1 record on the season, and he has passed for 2,746 yards, 24 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
When he isn't tossing beautiful passes, he uses his legs to move the chains, and lowers his shoulders to fight for that extra yard.
Luck has rushed 49 times for 445 yards and scored three touchdowns on the ground.
RB LaMichael James-Oregon Ducks
LaMichael James, running back for the Oregon Ducks, has been the most explosive and versatile running back in all of college football this season.
James has led the Ducks to an 11-0 record this year, and currently hold the No. 2 ranking in almost every BCS poll.
He has rushed 225 times for 1,422 yards, while scoring 17 touchdowns and led the Ducks to another victory over Arizona, thanks to his 28 carry, 126 yard, two touchdown performance.
This week, he can sit back, relax and wait for their next matchup against Oregon State.
WR A.J. Green-Georgia Bulldogs
Despite missing the first five games of the season due to suspension for selling one of his jerseys, Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green has still put up numbers similar to those who have played the whole season.
He is an impact receiver that requires attention at all times. Without Green, the Bulldogs were 1-4, but since his return, they are 4-3. Green is a huge target, listed at 6'4", 215 pounds, and has caught 41 passes for 674 yards and nine touchdowns on the year.
He still has a chance to pad those stats and increase his Heisman ranking with the Bulldogs next meeting against Georgia Tech.
QB Denard Robinson-Michigan Wolverines
In 2009, Denard Robinson of Michigan only managed 188 yards, throwing two touchdowns and four interceptions while competing with Tate Forcier for the starting job.
This year has been a complete transformation. He has proven that he rightfully earned the starting quarterback job, gaining almost 1,000 yards of total offense in his first two games combined.
More than nine of the top 25-ranked teams in the country managed that total in that time span.
Robinson destroyed Notre Dame, passing for 244 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for 258 and two touchdowns.
Against UMass, Robinson combined for another 305 yards and three touchdowns. Then he faced Bowling Green, but Robinson injured his knee after completing his first four passes for 60 yards, while rushing five times for 129 yards and two touchdowns.
However, Michigan suffered their first loss of the season against in-state rival Michigan State, when Robinson tossed three interceptions, and it was all downhill from there as the Wolverines went 2-3 since, bringing their record to 7-4 for the year.
Robinson has passed for 2,229 yards with 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, but he has added another 1,538 yards and 14 yards on 227 carries.
CB Patrick Peterson-Louisiana State Tigers
Here is Louisiana State cornerback Patrick Peterson posing in the Heisman stance. He may be the second defensive player to ever win the Heisman Trophy after former Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson.
Teams game-plan against Peterson, and don't throw it his way, which is mainly the reason for his 33 tackles on the season, but he has come away with four interceptions.
He is a physically dominating cornerback at 6'1", 222 pounds, and simply dominates receivers at the line of scrimmage. He is always fearless in making open-field tackles.
What may hurt his Heisman hopes is the fact that opposing quarterbacks don't dare look his way, leaving him with stats more deflated than what voters want to see.