The Heisman race is as muddled as the BCS standings. Major candidates all have a slip-up on their resume, so there’s no clear cut winner. No Oregon Duck has ever won a Heisman, (though the Beavers have one, Terry Baker in 1963) and the Ducks are going to miss the plane to New York this year as well.
LaMichael James was among the preseason favorites, but an injury and subpar games against LSU and USC sunk his chances. He’d need two miracle games against OSU and in the PAC-12 Championship Game even to get back into the conversation, and even then it’s probably too late.
Photo left: The bronze Heisman statue was modeled after New York University football player Ed Smith back in the 1930’s, but if they ever update it, the best stiffarm in the history of the game had to belong to Jeremiah Johnson. Just ask the OSU Beavers.
De’Anthony Thomas is a year or two away from being a serious candidate, but if there were a freshman Heisman or equivalent award, he’d be a lock with 15 touchdowns and five plays of over 50 yards, tops in the nation.
Brandon Weeden stumbled badly against Iowa State, with three picks, including one in overtime that sealed the victory for the Cyclones, deflating his Heisman chances severely. He probably needed the undefeated season and the BCS berth to be viable
Kellen Moore, despite his impressive statistics, plays a subpar schedule and was again victimized by his field goal kicker. He needed an undefeated season to overcome the non-AQ stigma in the eyes of national voters.
Andrew Luck, hampered by a journeymen receivers corps and a so-so defense, lost a marquee game to the Ducks, suffering two interceptions, a fumble and three sacks in a 53-30 loss.
Montee Ball has been stellar individually, with 1466 yards rushing and 30 total touchdowns, but his Wisconsin team has two losses, and may not even win the Big Ten.
Houston’s Case Keenum is a statistical wonder on an 11-0, #8-ranked team, with 4269 yards passing 38 tds and just 3 interceptions, but the Cougars’ Conference USA slate includes creampuffs like North Texas, Rice, UAB and Tulane. Some voters will write Keenum off as a stat accumulator, the same rap that plagues the prolific Robert Griffin III of Baylor, who ran up big numbers and a big upset win over Oklahoma just this weekend.
What happens? Who wins? It isn’t decided yet. Luck has a big nationally televised game against #22 Notre Dame on Saturday night. Ball can impress voters with a big showing in this weekend’s showdown with #19 Penn State, for the right to go to the Big Ten title game on the eve of Heisman balloting. Weeden and Landry Jones have the Bedlam matchup to try and work their way back into the conversation, and Trent Richardson plays in this weekend’s Iron Bowl.
The Heisman race is ripe for a defining Heisman moment. Moore and Keenum have only lackluster opponents remaining and no further chance to impress the voters. It will come down to Ball and Luck, making big plays in a big spotlight, and one of those two will claim the Trophy.
Ball’s a workhorse who simply can’t be denied the end zone. He’s likely to get two marquee games and may carry his team to a trip to the Rose Bowl. If he does, the Trophy’s his.