Saturday, December 5, 2009

Glory Week: Heisman Hopefuls Come To Play

What a great week of College Football matchups. I really wish the Big Ten would suck it up, add a twelfth team, and go for the title game setup, because it has now been two weeks of college football action with no sort of Midwestern coverage (well, except Wisconsin @ Hawaii, Illinois @ Cincinnati, Illinois vs. Fresno State).

On that note, Wisco @ Hawaii is tonight at 11:30 on ESPN2. Sweet.

Anyway, the slate of championships and huge games this weekend includes the final regular season games of many Heisman hopefuls. Let's take a look at who's in action and what they've done to state their cases for Heisman hardware.

The Civil War: #7 Oregon vs. #16 Oregon State, Thursday. Oregon won 37-33.

This was a great game to watch. The Beavers led through much of the evening, and were hoping to get revenge for last year's drubbing at the hands of the Ducks, who denied them a Rose Bowl berth.

No such luck. The Pac-10's second leading rusher, sophomore Jacquizz Rodgers, went for 64 yards and a touchdown, giving him twenty TDs and 1,377 ground yards on the season. Rodgers was a trendy dark horse Heisman pick in the preseason, and has had a great year. However, I don't think this showing was nearly enough for him to leapfrog fellow Pac-10 running back Toby Gerhart for a spot in the top four Heisman finalists.

Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, another Heisman dark horse, had yet another solid game in passing for 201 yards with a TD and an INT. His yearly totals look pretty good, with 2,066 passing yards, a 15:5 TD:INT ratio, and another 12 touchdowns rushing to go with an impressive 659 yards.

Still, I think his team's strength at running back, with freshman LaMichael James (166 yards against the Beavs, over 1,400 on the season) and The Mad Puncher, LeGarrette Blount, have hurt his chances, because he's had to share the ball so much. Still, with a 10-2 record and a Rose Bowl bid coming, Masoli is a lock to battle Stanford's Gerhart for the Pac-10 MVP award.

Central Michigan 20, Ohio 10

Okay, let's talk about real dark horses. Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour has led the Chippewas to an 11-2 season and, by the way, is also the NCAA all-time leader in combined passing, rushing, and receiving touchdowns with 148. He broke Chad Pennington's (from??) mark in this game.

LeFevour gets no Heisman love because he plays in the MAC. But you have to give him some credit for beating Michigan State earlier this year and playing tough games on the road at Arizona and Boston College. Not to mention, CMU beat good MAC teams - Temple, Ohio, Bowling Green and Northern Illinois all have winning records, and all felt the wrath of the LeFevour this season.

His final stats? 3,043 pass yards on 285-401 attempts (71.1%). 27 touchdowns versus 6 interceptions. Oh, and 174 rush attempts, yielding 701 yards (4.0ypc) and an impressive 14 TDs. Those numbers stand up against anybody in the country.

SEC Title Game: Florida 13, Alabama 32

This was a game featuring two true Heisman threats in Florida's Tim Tebow and Alabama's Mark Ingram. Tebow, who already has one stiff-arm trophy in his display case, didn't play terribly. He totalled 247 passing yards and 63 on the ground, with a touchdown and a pick.

But this game illustrated Florida's problems with the running game beyond Timmy, as nobody else carried the ball more than twice. Tebow will not be repeating as the Heisman winner, but at least he has a BCS bowl in his immediate future to make his case to NFL scouts.

His 30:4 TD:TO ratio for the year is extremely impressive, and between that and his name, I wouldn't be surprised if he is one of the finalists.

Mark Ingram, on the other hand, took advantage of this Heisman showcase. Already touted as a possible winner, the sophomore carried 28 times for 112 yards against a supposedly stout Florida defense, racking up three TDs. He also broke a huge 69-yard pass play on a dumpoff near the line of scrimmage, one of his pair of receptions in this game.

You can go ahead and pencil Ingram in for a spot in New York. His stats on the year?

221 carries for 1,429 yards, a 6.5 ypc average. 28 receptions for 289 yards, an 8.8per average. Fifteen total touchdowns. No fumbles. All while sharing time in the Crimson Tide backfield, and against tough competition including the SEC and Virginia Tech. This kid is for real.

Big 12 Title Game: Nebraska vs. Texas

It's too bad Nebraska has no offense, because their defense has been suffocating all night. At the end of the 3rd quarter, the Huskers are finally driving and trail 10-6.

Golden Boy Colt McCoy has less than 100 yards and two interceptions, but he does have Texas' lone TD on a rush near the goal line. Ten rushes for -24 yards and a TD is nothing to write home about, however.

Season stats: 3,328 yards, 27 TD:9 INT, 71.8 completion pct., 561 rush yards, 11 rush TD.

I don't think Texas has been all that impressive in their undefeated run thus far, and Nebraska's D is giving Colt fits tonight. But is he a Heisman finalist? Probably. He could even win, if enough people vote on name recognition.

Meanwhile, Nebraska's amazing DT Ndamukong Suh, the keystone to the Husker's #3 ranked defense, has eight tackles and 3.5 sacks tonight. Shining on the biggest stage is the best way to impress Heisman voters.

Suh is approaching 80 tackles, at least 16 for loss, with at least 11 sacks, a forced fumble, an INT, and multiple pass deflections on the year. Oh yes, and 22 quarterback hurries. He's going to be a top-ten NFL pick. Heisman finalist? Maybe. He has a better chance if he can make a game-changing play in this fourth quarter. Really, Nebraska's entire defensive line is full of NFL prospects.

Georgia Tech 33, Clemson 27 (ACC Title Game)

The only Heisman hopeful in this one is Clemson's superb RB C.J. Spiller. If I had a vote, this is the guy that gets it. Even though his Wildcats are trailing tonight, Spiller is the reason they're still alive. He has FOUR touchdowns, on rushes of 3, 41, 36, and 9 yards. He is averaging almost ten yards per carry.

For the season, Spiller's pure rushing stats may not look that amazing. Including this game so far, he has 11 TDs and close to 1,100 yards. But C.J. is really a triple threat. He also has 32 receptions for 440 yards and four TDs, and has taken an amazing five kicks to the house.

If you're counting, that's over 2,000 all purpose yards and 20 TDs. Spiller IS Clemson this year.

I've gone way over my word count and haven't even mentioned Houston's Case Keenum, who lost at East Carolina today. Quite a weekend for college football!!

If you've made it all the way through this post, thanks for your patience. I swear, I'll get some pictures up soon. For now, it's time to watch the exciting conclusions of the Big 12 and ACC title games!

My Heisman Finalists:

Mark Ingram
Ndamukong Suh
C.J. Spiller (just made another HUGE run midway through the fourth! 54 yards all the way inside the 10-yard line!)
Colt McCoy/Tim Tebow


  1. Good post, Mark. I agree with most of what you say, with one big exception. I really don't buy the hype on Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow. Seeing each of them play last night, and also looking at their stats (rolled up mainly against weak opponents), neither of these guys is deserving of a Heisman this year.

    If I were picking a QB to run my college team, neither Colt McCoy nor Tim Tebow would be in my top 5. For example, I'd take Jake Locker or even Tony Pike in a heartbeat over either McCoy or Tebow. And I think the NFL draft will confirm that neither Tebow nor McCoy is the top QB in college football in the eyes of NFL scouts.

    McCoy and Tebow are being considered only because their teams were at the top of the polls all season. And that's because their teams, Texas and Florida, avoid playing tough opponents, and instead schedule cupcake games to run up their stats. This makes their stats and their records look impressive, until you look more closely at the weakness of their opponents.

    Florida and Texas were exposed last night by Alabama and Nebraska. Florida and Texas do not deserve to be in the championship game. I don't think either team deserves to be in the top five, much less the top two. Same goes for their QBs.

    In short, it's mostly hype when it comes to Florida, Texas, Tebow, and McCoy. And much of the hype is due to ESPN.

    ESPN signed a huge contract with the BCS this year, and has a strong financial incentive to support the screwed-up BCS system. Florida and Texas pander to the BCS system by scheduling cupcake games at every opportunity. This lets them roll up the stats, which ESPN then hypes to the sky. And this leads to end-of-season games between "great" teams -- televised on ESPN. Except the teams really aren't great at all. Florida was not competitive with 'Bama. And Texas was downright inept against Nebraska. It's all hype!

    Anyway, sorry for the long rant. But I really don't think Tebow and McCoy should be on the short list of Heisman candidates this year. And now you know why....

  2. Oh, I completely agree with you on the products of the ESPN Hype Machine. Why is it that every time McCoy does something halfway decent, it's "His Heisman Moment!" according to the announcers? It's because they had him in the finalists before the season started.

    Same with Texas. Despite playing a cupcake schedule in the down Big Twelve, their number two preseason ranking is the only thing getting them in to the title game.

    Texas Christian is FAR more deserving, and I have no doubt in my mind that they'd give 'Bama a much better run for the championship.

    By the way, quarterbacks I'd take ahead of Colt and Tebow in the NFL: LeFevour, Masoli, Locker (good call on the UW Kid), Pike or Collaros, Sam Bradford (at least ahead of McCoy, maybe not Tebow), Terrell Pryor, Mustain from Arkansas, Case Keenum (everyone's going to the spread option these days anyway)... yeah, the list goes on and on.

    Thanks so much for reading and for the thoughtful comment, I appreciate it!