The 2011 Heisman Watch is now wide open after Stanford’s loss to Oregon last week, and Alabama’s loss to LSU two weeks ago. It’s been a while since we’ve had a race this wide open with really no clear-cut front runner this late in the season. Andrew Luck was the clear-cut front runner for most of the season, but he struggled in the Cardinal’s loss to Oregon last week, and his Heisman stock fell a bit.
Luck’s slip up has opened the door for Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden to make a push at the Heisman Trophy as he continues to lead the Cowboys toward an undefeated season. Kellen Moore saw the door open too, but Boise State fell to TCU last week, and that ended their shot at a BCS game along with Moore’s shot at the Heisman.
The door is open for a lot of candidates to make a run at the Heisman Trophy over the seasons final few weeks. We have three weeks left in the college football regular season, and there are a number of different candidates that still have a legitimate shot at taking home the stiff-arm.
The Top Five
Trent Richardson (RB/Alabama) — Chris Low, the SEC blogger for ESPN raised a good point about Richardson’s Heisman candidacy based on the level of competition he has faced up to this point. Richardson has faced 5 defenses ranked in the top-25 nationally while Weeden has faced just one, and Luck hasn’t faced any. While Alabama did lose to LSU two weeks ago, Richardson actually fared pretty well against the Tigers’ defense. He only had 89 rushing yards on 23 carries, but he added 80 receiving yards to give him 169 yards of offense in the game. Last week, Richardson was a workhorse in Alabama’s win over Mississippi State behind a patchwork offensive line. He carried the ball 32 times for 127 yards and a touchdown. For the season, Richardson has rushed for 1205 yards and 18 touchdowns to go along with 318 receiving yards and a touchdown. A strong end to the season against Georgia Southern and Auburn could propel Richardson to Alabama’s 2nd Heisman Trophy in three years.
Andrew Luck (QB/Stanford) — It’s hard to blame Andrew Luck for Stanford’s loss to Oregon on Saturday. Luck doesn’t play defense, and it you don’t win many games when you give up 53 points. But, Luck certainly didn’t play his best game against the Ducks. He threw for 256 yards on 27 of 41 passing with 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. For the season, Luck has completed 70.6% of his passes for 268 yards and 29 touchdowns to 7 interceptions with a QB rating of 168.6. Luck is still the Heisman frontrunner in most people’s minds, but I have him behind Richardson based on the level of defenses each has gone up against. Luck still has a great shot at winning the Heisman Trophy and his a sheer lock to be invited to New York for the ceremony.
Brandon Weeden (QB/Oklahoma State) — Weeden’s Heisman stock is soaring at the moment with Oklahoma State sitting #2 in the nation at 10-0. Weeden led the Pokes to a laughable 66-6 win over Texas Tech on Saturday. He went 31 of 37 through the air for 423 yards and 5 touchdowns. For the season, Weeden has completed 73.1% of his passes for 3635 yards, 31 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, and a QB rating of 164.2. Weeden’s chances of winning the Heisman Trophy this season pretty much hinge on the season finale against Oklahoma in Stillwater. If Weeden has a big game and the Cowboys knock off the Sooners, essentially clinching a spot in the BCS Title game, Weeden could very well be hoisting the Heisman.
Case Keenum (QB/Houston) — Boise State’s loss was Houston’s gain last weekend as they now control their own destiny in getting to a BCS bowl game. They remain undefeated thanks to the incredible season Case Keenum has put together on the way to setting numerous NCAA records. Keenum has thrown for 3951 yards this season, completing 74.2% of his passes for 37 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He is 2nd in the nation with a QB rating of 193.3 behind only Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson. The competition Keenum has played against will ultimately hurt him in the voting, but Houston does get a step up over the final few weeks of the regular season. They play SMU and Tulsa to finish the regular season before going up against Southern Miss in the C-USA Title game if they are able to beat the Golden Hurricane in two weeks. If the Cougars go undefeated, Keenum should almost certainly be invited to New York for the Heisman ceremony.
LaMichael James (RB/Oregon) — Nobody expected LaMichael James to get back into the Heisman conversation after an injury against California back in October. But, after a couple slip-ups by other candidates, and a big game against Stanford, James is squarely back into the Heisman picture. He carried the rock 20 times against the Cardinal for 146 yards and 3 touchdowns. For the season, James has rushed for 1207 yards and 12 touchdowns to go along with 175 receiving yards and a touchdown. If James wouldn’t have missed two games against Arizona State and Colorado, it’s entirely conceivable that he would be your Heisman front runner at this moment. James has games left against USC and Oregon State to go along with the Pac-12 Championship game to impress the voters. It’s going to be hard for him to make up for lost time, but I wouldn’t count him out.
Robert Griffin III (QB/Baylor) — Baylor is just 6-3, but Griffin has had a great season. He’s thrown for 3093 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2011, completing 74.2% of his passes for a QB rating of 188.6. Griffin still has an opportunity to make it to New York, but it will likely take a huge game on Saturday against Oklahoma to go along with a Baylor upset.
Kellen Moore (QB/Boise State) — Moore’s chances of winning the Heisman are all but gone after Boise State’s one-point home loss to TCU last Saturday. It’s still been a great year for Moore as he has thrown for 2549 yards and 31 touchdowns to 5 interceptions. He’s completed a career best 74.1% of his passes with a 177.2 QB Rating. Moore will need help from other candidates falling off over the next final weeks to make it to the Downtown Athletic Club.
David Wilson (RB/Virginia Tech) — Wilson leads the nation in rushing with 1360 yards and 7 touchdowns this season, but he hasn’t garnered much consideration for the Heisman, and I’m not sure why. Sure, Virginia Tech hasn’t played top level competition this season, but he’s still had a great year. He’s coming off of a 175 yard performance against Georgia Tech last week. The Hokies running back will also need some others to fall of to get an invite to the Heisman ceremony, but he definitely merits consideration.
Landry Jones (QB/Oklahoma) — Jones hasn’t had the type of year he wanted, but he still has a shot to make it to New York. The Sooners have three games left, and two of them are against teams that have Heisman candidates. One is this weekend against Robert Griffin and Baylor, and the other is on the final weekend of the regular season against Brandon Weeden Oklahoma State in their annual Bedlam game. If Jones can have a strong finish to the season highlighted by a win over Oklahoma State in the season finale, Jones could make it to the Downtown Athletic Club.
Russell Wilson and Montee Ball (QB/RB/Wisconsin) — Wilson is coming off one of the most efficient games of the season in college football against Minnesota. He completed 16 of his 17 passes for 178 yards and 4 touchdowns. Wilson leads the nation with a 201.6 QB rating. Montee Ball set the Big Ten record with his 27th touchdown of the season against the Gophers. He has 1242 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns this season to go along with 234 yards and 4 touchdowns receiving. The Badgers are in good shape in the Leaders division race, and it is likely to come down to the season finale against Penn State.