In what has been dubbed the week of “road tests,” we're getting our first glimpse of how the top-ranked college talents are handling tough opponents in hostile environments.
Some have performed well, others not so much. While the Heisman Trophy race is far from over, there are a number of players establishing themselves as early favorites. Other early favorites are buckling under the pressure.
So who's moving up and who's moving down on the Heisman hopefuls list?
Kellen Moore had over 450 yards passing and five touchdowns against a Toledo team that gave Ohio State all it could handle last week. Moore's Friday night performance only serves to cement this quarterback's position as one of the greats in the game.
Besides leading the Broncos to yet another win, Moore also passed Peyton Manning on the all-time starting FBS quarterback wins list. If Moore can lead the Broncos to just six more victories this season, he'll be the winningest starting quarterback in FBS history.
Robinson had a great game against Notre Dame last week, and his throwing totals raised some eyebrows.
But, in reality, if you watch how Robinson passes the ball, he's a gambler.
When Robinson drops back and hurls the deep ball, he's not aiming at anything in particular. He simply throws the ball up in the air and hopes his receiver gets to it before the defensive back does.
This type of passing will absolutely kill him once the Big Ten season begins. Going up against Western Michigan from the MAC, a porous Notre Dame secondary and an all-around terrible Eastern Michigan team today hasn't provided Robinson and the Wolverines with the best opposition.
If Robinson is lured into a false sense of security based on his early successes against mediocre opposition, you can bet that his interceptions total will skyrocket once conference play begins.
Taking on an FCS opponent isn't exactly the best test for a running back of the caliber of LaMichael James, but that shouldn't take away from his performance in the Ducks' 56-7 win over Missouri State.
James had a 90-yard run to put the Ducks up 28-7 and finished the day with 204 yards and three touchdowns.
Oregon begins Pac-12 play next week with a trip to Arizona. As the Ducks (2-1) move through the season, they'll need more big plays from James in order to convince the pollsters that they deserve another shot this season.
James's Heisman stock took an early blow in Oregon's loss to LSU to start the season, but if he continues to produce like he did today, expect him to be right back in the middle of the conversation.
Right now, we're watching Marcus Lattimore run all over the Navy defense.
Of course, it is just Navy, and putting up a ton of yardage (over 100 yards and two touchdowns with over eight minutes remaining in the second quarter) on the Midshipmen isn't anything to write home about. But this performance tonight could show the nation that Lattimore can not only put up big numbers, but can do so consistently.
Bottom line: Lattimore is one impressive sophomore. As long as SC keeps winning, Lattimore's stock will continue to rise.
Edwin Baker and the Spartans had high hopes coming into 2011. After MSU's first Big Ten title in 20 years, Sparty was set up for a BCS run this season.
That all came crashing down today, with a fairly lopsided loss at Notre Dame.
The fact that Michigan State found itself trailing for much of the day meant that head coach Mark Dantonio was forced to focus on the pass, and Edwin Baker was left to just 10 carries for a measly 26 yards.
Baker added two receptions for another 15 yards, and the Spartans fell short, 31-13.
Obviously, this non-conference loss doesn't eliminate MSU from winning the Big Ten, or earning a spot in the BCS come season's end. But the loss, combined with the meager numbers for Baker, finish off his slim hopes of a trip to New York.
Geno Smith had himself a banner day as West Virginia escaped College Park, Maryland win a narrow win over the Terrapins.
Smith was no small part in the victory, completing over 73 percent of his passes for 388 yards and one touchdown on the afternoon.
Smith also threw one interception—far better than Smith's counterpart, Danny O'Brien, who completed three passes to the opposition.
Smith and the No. 17 Mountaineers are now an impressive 3-0 under new head coach Dana Holgerson, and it appears Smith is going to play an important role in the West Virginia scheme if the Mountaineers are going to continue their run of success.
Now that everyone is familiar with Robert Griffin, III—or “RG3”—there is added pressure to perform.
Baylor is 1-0 and the No. 20 team in the nation.
After leading a marvelous Baylor offensive attack in their upset win against TCU, Griffin had a week off to prepare for FCS Stephen F. Austin.
It seems as if RG3 and the rest of the Baylor Bears did their homework. Griffin started off 8-for-9 passing for 87 yards and a touchdown to lead Baylor to a 10-0 first-quarter lead. He also carried the ball 3 times for 29 yards.
As his stats continue to grow this evening and throughout the season, expect the Heisman pundits to pay closer attention. As long as he keeps the Bears out of the loss column, he'll be keeping his Heisman hopes alive.
Both teams are fighting for poll points early on in 2011, and while this game isn't necessarily a BCS elimination game, it may be a BCS Championship elimination game for both squads.
Landry Jones has only played one game thus far in 2011, but what a game it was. Jones threw for 375 yards and a touchdown in a 47-14 drubbing of Tulsa in week one.
So much for OU's history of slow starts!
A win tonight against No. 5 Florida State will not only confirm Oklahoma's status as the top team in the land, it could jump-start Jones's 2011 Heisman campaign.
For EJ Manuel, tonight's game has even more meaning than for Jones.
The Seminoles have been the recipient of a lot of talk this fall, and tonight is the first opportunity for Florida State to put up or shut up.
EJ Manuel has been solid in his first two games of 2011. Manuel is averaging 290.5 yards per game, and has six passing touchdowns already this season. He's also completing two out of every three passes he throws.
Manuel will need to continue to produce those steady numbers, and will even need to add a little something extra for the 'Noles to come out on top of the Sooners tonight.
If he does, his Heisman chances take a big leap forward. If he doesn't, it may signal the end of his 2011 Heisman chances.