James v. Lattimore

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Where do the nation's top two running backs fall in this week's Heisman voting?

Where do the nation's top two running backs fall in this week's Heisman voting?

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 editor votes 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.

Follow our voters on twitter: Charlie Miller (@AthlonCharlie), Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch), Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven), Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden), Rob Doster (@AthlonDoster), Nathan Rush (@AthlonRush) and Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman).

by Braden Gall

1. Cameron Newton, QB, Auburn (34 pts, 6 first place votes)

Auburn was on bye last week, but it was a huge win for Newton — because nothing seriously damaging about his recruitment leaked this week. If I am an Auburn fan, every day without a story is a moral victory.

What's Next: This Friday at 3:30 PM ET, Newton will have his defining moment. All of his death-defying runs and game-winning grindhouse drives will have been for naught if he cannot beat rival Alabama. No pressure Cam.

2. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State (23 pts, 1 first place vote)

Another week, another mediocre 174.1 QB-rating for Moore. His team won 51-0. He threw for 333 yards and 4 TDs. Yet, his season passer rating actually went down. His 188.84 rating would still be the single best season by a passer in history.

What's Next: The Broncos' final big test en route to a second consecutive undefeated season will be in Reno this weekend. Moore did not play in the FBS' highest scoring game back in '07, but he was on the sideline watching the 69-67 overtime thriller. Colin Kaepernick was magical that night and is still under center (a loose term) for Nevada. He will have to pull something crazy out of his hat if the Wolfpack expect to pull the upset.

3. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon (21 pts)

Oregon was on bye last weekend.

What's Next: The Ducks can clinch the Pac-10 title and at least a Rose Bowl berth with a win over Arizona at home. The Wildcats have been stingy against the run, leading the conference with 112 yards allowed per game on the ground.

4. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford (11 pts)

This guy could be the single best football player on the planet not getting an offical paycheck. Luck was 16-of-20, for 235 yards and a pair of touchdowns while adding 72 yards rushing. His QB-rating for the game was 211.7 against a team that had been much better at home than on the road. Luck made a mockery of The Big Game in the 48-14 rout.

What's Next: The final game of the year and a potential BCS bowl berth could be on the line for Luck and the Cardinal this weekend agianst Oregon State. The home-field advantage should be too much for the undermanned but still very pesky Beavers squad.

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Athlon's editors vote on their Heisman contenders after 12 weeks of action.

5. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina (10 pts)

The Gameock running back needed 40 carries against Florida to score three times. Against Troy, he needed four. Lattimore scored on three of his first four attempts last weekend and helped South Carolina score 60 points for the first time in 15 years — and set the Carolina Spurrier single-game high with 69 points. The freshman finished with 102 yards on seven carries and three scores.

What's Next: With Auburn waiting for them in Atlanta, it will be interesting to see how Spurrier handles his star tailback this week against Clemson. Certainly, bragging rights — and Palmetto recruiting mojo — are there to be had against their arch-rival, but isn't the SEC title game dramatically more important?

6. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State (4 pts)

It still astounds me that quarterback Brandon Weeden hasn't taken Blackmon's spot on this list yet. Certainly, the Pokes wideout has been the nation's best player at his position. But what came first, the player who is obliterating the single-season school passing mark? Or the guy who has produced at least 125 receiving yards in every game? A very difficult question for voters to ponder. My guess is, it will split the vote and neither gets to NYC. Hell, even Kendall Hunter has been phenomenal this season.

What's Next: A huge stage for all Cowboy faithful. The Big 12 South championship is basically on the line in the Bedlam Series this weekend in Stillwater. A huge showing by Blackmon and/or Weeden, and the Cowboys will not only be headed to their first ever Big 12 title game, but could also have a Heisman finalist.

7. Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan (2 pts)

It's too bad Shoelace can't play man coverage (although, I bet he would be an above average cornerback) because Michigan can't stop anyone. Losses to Wisconsin, Iowa, Penn State and Michigan State can all be attritbuted to that side of the ball. In the 48-28 loss to the Badgers, Robinson threw for 239 yards and two touchdowns while adding another 121 yards rushing and two more trips to paydirt. He is now the first player in history to run and pass for at least 1,500 yards in a season — and he is actually at 2,229 yards passing.

What's Next: There is this little meeting with the Buckeyes in the Shoe this weekend. If Shoelace doesn't become Shoe-less, he has the opportunity to shoe-case his skills against one of the nation's elite defenses.