Heisman Watch: Projecting Andrew Luck and Other Contenders Ranks

Nikhil BaradwajSenior Analyst INovember 26, 2011

Heisman Watch: Projecting Andrew Luck and Other Contenders Ranks

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    With only a few weeks left in the college football season, winners for the major awards are being projected as we speak.

    Finalists for awards like the Davey O'Brien Award, Fred Biletnikoff Award, and Bedarnik Award are being named, along with chatter about Heisman hopefuls.

    At this point in the season, we know who the contenders are, along with the pretenders. However, the actual ranking of these candidates is still murky.

    This article tell you the likely places of each Heisman hopeful, along with their best and worst possible finishes. 

No. 10: LaMichael James (Oregon Ducks)

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    James has had a solid season this year, with 1285 yards on the ground along with 13 touchdowns, even after missing two Pac-12 games with a banged up elbow.

    His chances of winning the Heisman took a major tumble after USC beat Oregon this past weekend, where James was not nearly as effective as he was against Stanford.

    If James can play big against Oregon State in the Civil War and shred whatever Pacific-12 South team he plays in the championship game, he could move up the rankings slightly, but not into top five consideration.

    Best Finish: 6th

    Worst Finish: Outside Top 10

No. 9: Justin Blackmon (Oklahoma State Cowboys)

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    Justin Blackmon has repeated the success which he had last year, playing big time for an Oklahoma State team that is possibly Fiesta Bowl bound. He has a startling 103 catches along with 1241 yards receiving and 15 touchdowns.

    Blackmon's chances of winning the Heisman this year were never really that big, because he never had that "Heisman Moment," which every contender seems to have.

    Then again, the Cowboys biggest game is on the horizon and Blackmon may shine against the Sooners next week.

    Best Finish: 6th

    Worst Finish: Outside of Top 10

No. 8: Kellen Moore (Boise State Broncos)

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    Kellen Moore has had his fourth straight impressive season, leading the way for the seventh ranked Boise State Broncos with 35 touchdowns and only six interceptions, along with 2915 yards passing.

    Unfortunately, Moore's stock went Heisman contender to pretender after the Broncos lost to TCU at home, therefore ending their chance at playing in a BCS bowl game this year.

    If Moore has a big game against 7-3 Wyoming, I do not see his Heisman stock increasing as voters are assuming that he will play well against the Cowboys.

    In fact, with most of the other contenders playing big games in the coming weeks, Moore's stock could tumble even further.

    Best Result: 7th

    Worst Result: 10th

No. 7: Brandon Weeden (Oklahoma State Cowboys)

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    Brandon Weeden suffered the biggest tumble out of all of the contenders this past week after his Cowboys were stunned by Iowa State in double overtime. Even still, Weeden has 4111 yards passing along with 34 touchdowns.

    Weeden threw three costly interceptions at Iowa State and was the major reason why the Cowboys are not still in the National Championship hunt.

    While he has been a solid passer all year, he has thrown 12 interceptions, which is far and away the greatest number among the contenders.

    Weeden could help his stock with a big game against the Sooners next week, but I think Weeden's chances at winning the Heisman are undoubtedly over.

    Best Finish: 4th

    Worst Finish: 9th

No. 6: Montee Ball (Wisconsin Badgers)

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    Montee Ball has played under the radar all season long, despite having 30 touchdowns to his name, which puts him in very elite company.

    Along with those 30 trips to the end zone, Ball has 1466 yards on the ground and has spearheaded one of the top rushing attacks in the nation.

    Ball's stock was hurt by the fact that Wisconsin is a two-loss team, and a top running back on a non-National Championship contending team usually struggles to get votes.

    If Wisconsin closed out games at Michigan State and Ohio State, Ball might have been rated higher.

    If he can play big against Penn State and in the Big Ten Championship Game, Ball could play his way to the Heisman ceremony. However, there are five guys ahead of him, who are playing exceptional football.

    Best Finish: 3rd

    Worst Finish: 7th

No. 5: Matt Barkley (USC Trojans)

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    Matt Barkley has had an outstanding season at USC, showing the great improvements that he has made in his three year career. The junior has 33 touchdowns to 7 interceptions, along with 3105 yards on a solid 9-2 team.

    Barkley has arguably been the best quarterback in the Pacific-12 this year, and has played at his finest against the Trojans' best opponents in Notre Dame, Oregon, and Stanford.

    However, the Trojans are a two-loss team and Barkley will not get the opportunity to play either Oregon or Stanford again in the Pac-12 Championship Game because of USC's sanctions.

    Barkley can secure a spot to the Heisman trophy ceremony if he lights up UCLA's putrid defense.If Barkley can outplay Andrew Luck's performance against the Bruins, he could get even more votes.

    Best Finish: 3rd

    Worst Finish: 6th

No. 4: Case Keenum (Houston Cougars)

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    Keenum puts up video game numbers at Houston, guiding the Cougars to a possible BCS bowl berth after their 48-16 win over a solid Tulsa team. He has 43 touchdowns on the year to only 3 interceptions, along with 4726 yards passing.

    Keenum has broken multiple NCAA career records this season and even threw for nine touchdowns and 534 yards passing in a game against Rice.

    However, Keenum has not faced a quality defense to date and does not have a "Heisman Moment," unlike the three candidates above him. His numbers against weaker opponents will only take him so far.

    He could increase his stock slightly if he leads his team to a Conference USA Championship, but realistically, Keenum has almost no chance at winning a Heisman.

    Best Finish: 3rd

    Worst Finish: 9th (If Houston loses in the C-USA Championship Game)

No. 3: Andrew Luck (Stanford Cardinal)

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    Andrew Luck's season has not necessarily lived up to his expectations of a Pacific-12 Championship and possibly a Heisman. Although Stanford lost control of their destiny for a Pac-12 North Division title, Luck still has 31 touchdowns, 2937 yards passing, and only eight interceptions.

    Luck was the Heisman frontrunner before Stanford's stunning loss to Oregon 53-30, where he struggled against Oregon's quick and turnover-generating defense. 

    Luck did have a "Heisman Moment," against USC, when he rebounded after a "Pick 6," and led the Cardinal to a triple overtime victory in the Coliseum. 

    At this point, Luck needs a little help to win his 1st Heisman trophy. He would likely benefit from an Oregon loss, as this would give Luck one more chance on the national stage to impress voters.

    The race between the top three candidates is so close anyways, that Luck might take the award with a solid performance against the Fighting Irish.

    Best Finish: 1st

    Worst Finish: 3rd

No. 2: Robert Griffin III (Baylor Bears)

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    Heading into the 2011 season, Robert Griffin III was not considered to be a Heisman contender. I mean, his Baylor Bears weren't even in the top five of the preseason Big 12 poll.

    Oh boy have things changed.

    Not only does RGIII have strong passing statistics, boasting 33 touchdowns, 3572 yards passing, and only five interceptions while playing against difficult competition, but he has played big when it has mattered most.

    Griffin guided his team to two upset wins over TCU and Oklahoma, throwing for a combined nine touchdowns to zero interceptions in those games. 

    In addition, Griffin is leading Baylor to one of their greatest seasons ever, with a chance to win ten games if the Bears beat Texas Tech, Texas and win their bowl game.

    As shocking as it is for some, Griffin has a legitimate chance to win the Heisman this year. In fact, in ESPN's weekly Heisman poll, RGIII was only six points behind 1st place.

    With two big games against Texas and Texas Tech and a few slip ups from other contenders, Griffin could find himself hoisting the trophy in New York.

    Best Finish: 1st

    Worst Finish: 3rd

No. 1: Trent Richardson (Alabama Crimson Tide)

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    Trent Richardson has lived up to the lofty potential which many draft experts and college football analysts put on him when he was a freshman, rushing for 1380 yards and scoring 20 touchdowns on the ground as the full time starter.

    In addition, he has been the key offensive component on the No. 2 team in the nation.

    While Richardson has not been overly impressive against the best teams on the schedule, he destroyed Penn State's stellar defense, running for 111 yards and 2 touchdowns in a Crimson Tide romp.

    He also scored four touchdowns against Ole Miss, juking out an Ole Miss defender and earning massive respect on ESPN and other media outlets.

    Honestly, I do not think Richardson should be in top three consideration because he has not been "Heisman Trophy" impressive. Sure, he has 1380 yards rushing, but Richardson is not the main reason why Alabama is so good.

    He might win this award because the Heisman trophy committee rewards players on top teams, but he certainly does not deserve it over several people behind him.

    Best Finish: 1st

    Worst Finish: 2nd