Can Kellen Moore catch Mr. Newton in the Heisman chase?
The Heisman Trophy is college football's most prestigious trophy, so the editors here at Athlon take the voting for the 13.5-inch, 25-pound award very seriously. Each week, the ballots are collected and tallied from inside the walls of Athlon Sports. Each voter may vote for five players (unlike the official three) and a first place vote is worth 5 points, a second is worth 4 points so and so forth down to the fifth place vote earning 1 point.
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Here is this week's results:
1. Cameron Newton, QB, Auburn (35 pts, 7 first place votes)
After landing every first place vote from the Athlon staff a week ago, Newton did nothing but improve his standing for Heisman. The Auburn quarterback didn't just beat an undefeated top-10 LSU team. He didn't just rush for 217 yards and two TDs while throwing for 86 yards on 10-of-16 passing. He made a signature Heisman play that every winner almost has to have on the resume. With just over 11 minutes left on the clock, Newton burst up the middle of the LSU defense, broke right, stumbled and almost fell, before creasing back across the LSU secondary. With the goalline in sight and All-American Patrick Peterson nipping at his heels, Newton accelerated away from one of the most talented players in the nation and dove into the endzone for the go-ahead 49-yard scoring run. Newton has now, in eight games, rushed for more yards in a single season (1,077) than any other quarterback in SEC history.
What's Next: A potential trap game looms this weekend. Newton takes his show on the road to play the Ole Miss Rebels. Auburn's last trip to Oxford, Miss., didn't go so well, as Colonel Reb topped Aubie the Tiger 17-7 two years ago.
2. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon (24 pts)
The speedster wasn't needed much this weekend as the Ducks rolled over the Bruins on Thursday night. He rushed for a paltry 123 yards (nearly 40 yards under his average) and two TDs. He is still leading the nation in rushing at 161.8 yards per game. James has scored multiple touchdowns in three straight and four out of five while rushing for at least 100 yards in all but one game (94 yards against Arizona State).
What's Next: James and the Ducks have a statement game this weekend when they travel down to Los Angeles to take on the Trojans. The USC defense has not been great this year but is coming off a dominating performance against Cal and has had two weeks to prepare for the Chip Kelly attack. This is a marquee, show-me game for James and the Ducks.
3. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State (23 pts)
Moore is, once again, the nation's most efficient passer. His 190.35 passer rating is ridiculous and would break Colt Brennan's single season efficiency record (186.0 in 2006). His current TD to INT ratio sits at 16:1, while his career ratio is an unreal 80:14. Moore's biggest claim to the stiff-arm trophy, however, was his play against elite opponents Virginia Tech and Oregon State. He needs a big showing in blowout wins the rest of the way — particularly Nevada and Fresno State.
What's Next: Louisiana Tech and Hawaii are next on the schedule. Perfect spots to pad the stats for Moore.
The top three candidates received so much support from the editorial staff that the top-5 list stops after No. 3. After the top three, there are a lot of talented stat monsters who have performed at an incredible level. A few of the names below still have marquee games left to prove themselves (see Gabbert, Robinson, Pryor and Griffin).
Here are the rest of the vote-getters as well as some other names to keep an eye on:
Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan (6 pts)
Tests against Wisconsin, Penn State and Ohio State offer plenty of Heisman opportunity.
Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State (6 pts)
At over 158 yards receiving per game, Blackmon leads the nation in most WR categories.
Terrelle Pryor, QB, Ohio State (4 pts)
Another ho-hum 270-yard, 3 TD performance from the TP2. Iowa and Michigan loom large.
Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford (3 pts)
The nation's seventh most efficient passer posted a mediocre 190 yards and 3 TDs last week.
Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor (2 pts)
Single-handedly responsible for Baylor's being ranked and bowl eligible, Griffin is 3rd in the nation in total offense.
Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri (1 pt)
Back-to-back 300-yard efforts in wins over Texas A&M and Oklahoma gets him on firmly on the watch list.
DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma (1 pt)
Despite the loss, Murray is still James top contender at tailback.
Other names to keep an eye on:
Tyrod Taylor, QB, Virginia Tech
If Hokies keep rolling, Taylor's numbers cannot be ignored.
Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State
Channelling his inner Ricky Stanzi, Cousins led the furious comeback in Evanston. Now, do it in Iowa City.
John Clay, RB, Wisconsin
No running back in college football has scored more rushing TDs than Clay for the 7-1 Badgers.
Greg Jones, LB, Michigan State
The top defensive player in the nation (69 tckl, 5 TFL, 3 FF, 2 INT) has his team unbeaten and in the top-5.
Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska
If the dual-threat can pass like he did against OSU (325 yds, 5 TDs), he will be back in the mix soon enough.
Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Maybe the most physically gifted player in the nation needs to be more consistent on the outside.
Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
If Bama beats Auburn and returns to the title game, it will be because of Ingram's legs.