While the final balloting for this year's Heisman Trophy award is still two months away, the race is already shaping up. With five weeks of football past, certain candidates are moving towards the front of the pack, while other preseason hopefuls have fallen off the radar.
For those that do not have time to comb through all the records each week, here is a listing of who you should be watching as the season progresses.
Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
The Sooners have played four games so far and are currently ranked number one in the nation. This feat in no small way rests on the arm of quarterback Sam Bradford. Oklahoma’s offense with Bradford at the helm has amassed 199 points so far this season.
While not a rushing threat, his ability to make big plays in the air when it counts has kept Oklahoma together this season. He is currently the third most efficient quarterback in college football.
One unofficial criterion for the Heisman Trophy has been the leadership ability of the candidate. Can the player take control of a game where the plan has fallen apart? After Oklahoma’s win again TCU, you can answer in the affirmative for Sam Bradford.
TCU’s defense shut down Oklahoma’s potent run game, but Bradford answered with 411 yards through the air for four touchdowns.
If Oklahoma continues its success through Big 12 play, expect to see Sam Bradford come out as the man to beat for the Heisman trophy this year.
Chase Daniel, Missouri
Chase Daniel has been a machine for the Missouri Tigers so far this season. Throwing for 12 touchdowns with only one interception through four games, Daniel is nipping on Bradford’s heels for the Heisman. The senior quarterback has gone for 1,412 yards so far with a completion rate of almost 76 percent.
The Tigers have yet to see a real test against their offense this season, but one is coming in three weeks versus No. 5 Texas. If the Tigers come out of October unscathed, expect the Heisman balloting to be very close indeed.
Colt McCoy, Texas
It’s been surprising that the press in general has ignored Colt McCoy as a Heisman candidate this season. The junior quarterback from Texas has done nothing but be a leader for his team.
While his numbers haven’t been as impressive as either Sam Bradford’s or Chase Daniel’s, they have been good enough that in most seasons we’d have already called this race. His passing yards are projected to be down from last year, but that is only because he has more weapons around him now.
Texas still has a tough road through the rest of the season, playing three ranked teams in October (No. 1 Oklahoma in Dallas, No. 4 Missouri in Austin, and No. 21 Oklahoma State in Austin). Only if Texas comes out of October with three wins will we still be discussing Colt McCoy in November.
Tim Tebow, Florida
With Florida’s loss to Ole Miss this last weekend, quarterback Tim Tebow can almost kiss his second Heisman trophy goodbye. He was already going to have a harder time this year as Florida’s ground game has improved since last year. But the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner was still making waves.
Granted, he posted his best numbers of the season again Ole Miss (319 yards and one touchdown). But if one can’t make the plays that chalk up the win for your team, then it hurts your chances greatly.
Florida still has a long way to go through the SEC this season. If Tebow can get his team through what is possibly the best conference in the nation, he will be right back in the hunt. Conversely, another loss will keep him out of it completely.
Jahvid Best, California
The running back out of California has been the best Pac-10 player to watch this season. He has run for 421 yards through four games and is averaging 7.1 yards per carry. However, he had to leave the game versus Colorado State in the third with a dislocated elbow. Preliminary X-rays didn’t show a break, but MRI results are still forthcoming.
If Best comes back this season, his chances are still hurting considering the sorry state of the Pac-10 this season. The only ranked opponent that Cal still faces this year is USC. Best will have to play his “best” game ever against USC’s defense to stay in the running.
If I had to fill out a Heisman ballot today, Sam Bradford would be my first choice. His performance through the first four games has exemplified what a Heisman trophy winner should be.
With so many strong quarterbacks in the Big 12 conference, this is still going to be a difficult year to choose. Luckily, there is still a lot of football left to play.