Heisman Watch 2011: Michael Dyer and 8 Other Hopefuls Whose Teams Let Them Down
Andrew Luck, LaMichael James, Trent Richardson, Denard Robinson. These are all names of Heisman front runners. No-doubters from big programs who play on teams that have a chance to play in a BCS bowl.
But they aren't the only hopefuls in 2011 who are racking up big numbers and looking for an invite to New York at the end of the season.
Even with stellar numbers, a Heisman hopeful must play for a contending, ranked team to have any shot. Following is a list of Auburn's Michael Dyer and eight other players whose teams are hurting their chances at winning the Heisman Trophy.
Michael Dyer, RB - Auburn
Dyer went absolutely bonkers last year, breaking Bo Jackson's freshman rushing record at Auburn. This year, Auburn started the season unranked after losing Cam Newton and Nick Fairly to the NFL and pulled off a couple tough wins in Week 1 and 2 before dropping a game on the road against Clemson today.
Still, while Auburn will undoubtedly be tough again, they won't be championship-caliber. Dyer is going to have to put up huge numbers and lead the Tigers to a BCS bowl to have a shot at Heisman consideration. If he sticks around for another season or two at Auburn though, he will definitely make some noise.
Tyler Bray, QB - Tennessee
Bray has been one of the best passers in the nation through the first three weeks of the season, racking up 985 yards passing and 10 touchdowns versus two interceptions. But, the Volunteers proved today that they can't handle a top-tier team, let alone be one. They got chomped at the Swamp by Florida 33-23.
Bray still had good numbers on the day, but unless Tennessee rebounds and runs the table, I don't see any way that he will be suited up alongside Luck and James at season's end.
Robert Woods, WR - Southern Cal
Woods is a big time playmaker for the Trojans and broke the single-game receptions mark in their Week 1 victory over Minnesota. Woods had 17 catches for 177 yards and three TDs in that game, one that they eeked out a 19-17 win. And therein lies one of the two problems facing the sophomore wide receiver.
USC just isn't that good this year. They barely escaped Minnesota and were played tough by Utah in Week 2. Sure, they haven't lost yet, but they will. Once they get in to Pac-12 play, they are looking at games on the road against Arizona State, Notre Dame and Oregon, and a home game against Stanford. If USC plays out of their minds, they might split those games, but the more likely outcome is they lose at least three.
Another thing not helping Woods' case is the guy throwing him the ball. Quarterback Matt Barkley is considered the second best prospect in the nation behind Luck and should take votes away from his teammate.
Kellen Moore, QB - Boise State
This poor guy. He's small, plays at a perennially underrated school that may run the table AGAIN, and he plays in a small conference. All these things contribute to his lack of support for the Heisman.
Moore, with a win over Toledo on Friday, continues his inevitable march toward becoming college football's all-time winningest QB. He's the best player on the fifth-ranked team in the country for the fourth straight year. Still, he will not even be mentioned in the Heisman watch when it comes time at the end of the season.
This season, he's thrown for over 700 yards, eight touchdowns versus two interceptions and has a completion percentage just under 80 percent. Even if Boise St. goes undefeated, it's likely that a one-loss team from a major conference would leap them to play in the national championship game. So, Moore's team is certainly good enough to warrant a Heisman Trophy player, but because of their strength of schedule, Moore doesn't have a prayer.
Vick Ballard, RB - Mississippi State
Ballard is an exceptionally exciting back on an impressive Mississippi State team, which has the parts to contend in the SEC. So what's the problem? Well, the Bulldogs have stumbled early. They lost a nail-biter in an instant classic to Auburn in Week 2 and lost convincingly to No. 3 LSU on Thursday in a game that will definitely drop them from the rankings.
If Mississippi State had come out and at least beaten Auburn, they had a shot to be in the BCS talk when Alabama comes to town Nov. 12. Unfortunately for Ballard, who is averaging 8.1 yards per carry, his team isn't quite good enough yet to put him in the Heisman talks.
Nick Foles, QB - Arizona
Foles is on a lot of NFL radars and understandably so. He has completed over 75 percent of his passes so far this season for over 400 yards per game and 6 touchdowns. He has yet to throw an interception. But, the Wildcats showed that they were going to be a mostly one-man team last week when they got blown out by Oklahoma State.
If Foles is going to be a serious contender for the Heisman this season, Arizona is going to have to survive a home game tonight against Stanford and then knock off Oregon in Tucson next week. That seems about as likely as James Harrison drinking a sour apple Martini, so don't count on Foles being in New York at season's end.
Case Keenum, QB - Houston
Keenum actually has similar numbers to Foles, only with a better completion percentage and a higher QB rating. His downfall will be Houston's schedule, which is softer than Boise State's. Heck, it might be softer than my high school's schedule. They did pull off a pretty quality win against UCLA in Week 1, but the rest of their slate holds powerhouses like UTEP and Georgia State.
No matter what kind of numbers Keenum puts up, Houston will not be regarded highly enough to put him into contention for a Heisman invite. However, not all is lost for the senior QB. He has thrown for over 13,000 yards and 100 touchdowns in his time at Houston. So, a possible spot on an NFL roster may be in his immediate future.
Justin Blackmon, WR - Oklahoma State
Blackmon is far and away the most dynamic, athletic receiver in college football this season. He has caught 20 passes for 272 yards and two TDs for a 2-0 Cowboys team so far. And those numbers are nothing compared to what his line will look like at the end of the season. But, it still won't be enough to make him a Heisman finalist.
Sure, Oklahoma State hasn't lost yet and beat Arizona convincingly in Week 2, but they still have to play Texas A&M and Texas on the road before they clash against No. 1 Oklahoma in Stillwater in the final game of the year. If they pull off two wins, Blackmon will get more consideration. But chances are a two or three-loss team won't be good enough to put Blackmon in the conversation.
Robert Griffin III, QB - Baylor
For one glorious night two weeks ago, was there anyone more exciting to watch in any sport than Griffin? On national TV, he lead his Baylor Bears to an unbelievable 50-48 win over TCU. He threw for 359 yards on 21-27 passing and five TDs. He electrified with his escapability in the pocket and looked poised in leading a big comeback over last year's Rose Bowl winners.
Baylor has big games against Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma coming up this year. Asking Griffin to lead his squad over those three teams is like asking for a college football playoff system; it just ain't gonna happen. Griffin is a fantastic talent on a pretty good team who just won't get enough support to contend for the Heisman.