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The Countdown

A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

The 2010 Heisman

P.S.R. 2010 Heisman Watch: Week 4

For the fourth consecutive week, Boise State's Kellen Moore tops the P.S.R. Heisman list.

It’s been three weeks: some things have changed, some things have stayed the same. Kellen Moore, Terrelle Pryor and John Clay remain the favorites, as they were — in this space — at the beginning of the season. A few names have burst onto the list, a few names have disappeared, likely never to be seen again. That’s certainly the case this week, where at least one former leading favorite has seen the end of his candidacy. Has there been any major movement? Who cracked the top 10, who departed? Let’s take a look.

1. QB Kellen Moore, Boise State (Last week: No. 1)

Week 3 W 51-6 at Wyoming (20 of 30 for 370 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT)
Year to date 43 of 68 for 585 yards, 5 TD, 1 INT

Moore and the Broncos, back at it after a one-week absence, picked up right where they left off. Moore did throw his first interception of the year — he threw all of three last fall — but was far more productive against Wyoming than he was against Virginia Tech. That was expected, of course. Boise State’s brief break against the Cowboys ends this Saturday: Oregon State comes into town, presenting a second stiff challenge to Boise’s B.C.S. hopes. With another big day, Moore moves into the driver’s seat. On the flip side, Saturday’s game presents Moore’s final chance at some national publicity; few will be paying attention to how he fares during WAC play.

Week 4 vs. Oregon State, Saturday

2. QB Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State (Last week: No. 2)

Week 3 W 43-7 vs. Ohio (22 of 29 for 235 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT; 8 carries for 35 yards, 1 TD)
Year to date 51 of 81 for 715 yards, 6 TD, 2 INT; 33 carries for 180 yards, 2 TD

A slow week for the Buckeyes, highlighted by another strong performance from Pryor. Those two picks need to be avoided, of course, but Pryor has now thrown for at least 230 yards in each of Ohio State’s first three games. His passing numbers, when all is said and done, will be very impressive. Throw in his sterling rushing output — he’s on pace for more than 700 yards on the ground — and you can see why Pryor should be counted as a Heisman favorite not just for his team’s success but also his own high level of play. The Buckeyes are due for another laugher on Saturday, when the lowly E.M.U. Eagles head to Columbus for a shellacking.

Week 4 vs. Eastern Michigan, Saturday

3. QB Ryan Mallett, Arkansas (Last week: No. 3)

Week 3 W 31-24 at Georiga (21 of 33 for 380 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT)
Year to date 70 of 100 for 1081 yards, 9 TD, 2 INT

Through two weeks, my biggest contention with Mallett’s candidacy was his lousy schedule; that’s changed, thanks to Arkansas’ win over Georgia. Mallett not only excelled statistically, again passing the 300-yard mark, but he had an early moment: tied at 24-24, Mallett led the Razorbacks on the game-winning touchdown drive over the game’s final minute. This is what Heisman contenders do — and that’s why Mallett has moved up into my top three, pushing John Clay and Denard Robinson down a peg. Now, much rides on this Saturday: with a win and solid performance against Alabama, Mallett could move into the top spot on this list. With another tough loss to the Crimson Tide, Mallett will slide back into the bottom half.

Week 4 vs. Alabama, Saturday

4. RB John Clay, Wisconsin (Last week: No. 3)

Week 3 W 20-19 vs. Arizona State (22 carries for 123 yards, 1 TD)
Year to date 62 carries for 382 yards, 5 TD

The game wasn’t supposed to be this tight: Wisconsin barely escaped the Sun Devils, needing two lucky breaks on special teams to pull out the one-point win. Clay was his normally productive self, though I expected to his workload to be a tad higher considering the narrow result. Nothing wrong with 22 carries, of course. With Austin Peay on the horizon, look for Clay to exit non-conference action with about 500 yards rushing, unless he takes a back seat in what is sure to be a Wisconsin blowout. As mentioned several times thus far, Clay will make his Heisman push during Big Ten play. Unfortunately, the Badgers need to step up their game; Clay won’t remain in the mix if the Badgers lose more than two games the rest of the way.

Week 4 vs. Austin Peay, Saturday

5. QB Denard Robinson, Michigan (Last week: No. 4)

Week 3 W 42-37 vs. Massachusetts (10 of 14 for 241 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT; 17 carries for 104 yards, 1 TD)
Year to date 53 of 76 for 671 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT; 74 carries for 559 yards, 4 TD

It says much about Robinson’s season that 305 yards of total offense represents his weakest performance of the season — and it’s not even close. Massachusetts did a surprisingly effective job limiting Robinson’s output on the ground, though it was clear that Rich Rodriguez wanted some of Michigan’s complimentary offensive weapons to play a bigger role. Robinson had his most productive day as a passer, averaging more than 17 yards per attempt. He did throw his first interception of the year, but Robinson’s throwing allowed Michigan to come back from an early 10-point deficit. As with a week ago, the question lingers: how long can Robinson keep it up?

Week 4 vs. Bowling Green, Saturday

6. QB Andrew Luck, Stanford (Last week: No. 10)

Week 3 W 68-24 vs. Wake Forest (17 of 23 for 209 yards, 4 TD, o INT; 3 carries for 69 yards, 1 TD)
Year to date 45 of 70 for 674 yards, 10 TD, o INT; 13 carries for 140 yards, 1 TD

You simply cannot overlook production, nor the important role Luck plays for this Stanford offense. The sophomore — he’s only a sophomore, remember — was perfect, yet again, in leading the Cardinal to a meaningful win over Wake Forest; Stanford had circled this game as a key non-conference tilt after suffering a disappointing loss at the Demon Deacons a year ago. No, Luck is not quite a Denard Robinson-like runner. Still, he has enough running ability to take one 52 yards for a score, as he did in the second quarter of Saturday’s win.

Week 4 at Notre Dame, Saturday

7. RB DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma (Last week: No. 6)

Week 3 W 27-24 vs. Air Force (26 carries for 110 yards, 2 TD; 5 catches for 38 yards, 1 TD)
Year to date 77 carries for 369 yards, 4 TD; 9 catches for 90 yards, 1 TD

Typical Murray: 100 yards rushing, a handful of key receptions, a key role as the leader of this Oklahoma offense. While his team suffered a bit of decline after a dominating 30-point win over Florida State, Murray continued to produce. The senior is on pace for his finest season: roughly 1450 yards rushing, 350 yards receiving, 25 total touchdowns. That’s the type of production, should O.U. continue to win, that draws national attention. Of course, it would be nice if the Sooners could show more of the well-rounded game that defined their win over F.S.U. — the Air Force offense gave Oklahoma fits.

Week 4 at Cincinnati, Saturday

8. RB Mark Ingram, Alabama (Last week: –)

Week 3 W 62-13 at Duke (9 carries for 151 yards, 2 TD)
Year to date 9 carries for 151 yards, 2 TD

Yeah, Ingram didn’t have any rust following a two-week layoff. The knee? Looks good to me. He was back in prime form, it seemed, making lightning-quick cuts and showing the deep-speed burst that defined his Heisman-winning campaign. His first carry: 50 yards. He took another carry 50 yards later in the first quarter. Talk about making up for lost time. Based on his placement as the reigning Heisman winner and Saturday’s showing, Ingram deserves to return to the Heisman conversation. He can continue to move back up the list with a strong showing as Alabama’s lead back against Arkansas this Saturday.

Week 4 at Arkansas, Saturday

9. QB Colin Kaepernick, Nevada (Last week: No. –)

Week 3 W 52-31 vs. California (10 of 15 for 181 yards, 2 TD, o INT; 17 carries for 148 yards, 3 TD)
Year to date 57 of 81 for 728 yards, 5 TD, 0 INT; 93 carries for 369 yards, 7 TD

One of two new faces on this week’s list, though Ingram — who debuted in the top three — has been here before. I wrote in advance of Nevada’s game against California that Kaepernick had the chance to make some national noise, thanks to a light weekend schedule and his own high-profile matchup with a Pac-10 contender. Kaepernick — and the Wolf Pack as a whole — surely delivered, with the senior quarterback combining for 329 yards of total offense with five touchdowns. Kaepernick has made strides as a passer, as he showed in Friday’s win. He’s more under control in the pocket, though his typical frantic self when running the ball. Think of Kaepernick as Pryor-lite, though his numbers will eventually be far more impressive. To remain on this list, Kaepernick must lead Nevada to a win over B.Y.U. on Saturday — and wins the rest of the way. Yes, especially over Boise State.

Week 4 at B.Y.U., Saturday

10. RB Marcus Lattimore, U.S.C.  (Last week: No. 9)

Week 3 W 38-19 vs. Furman (19 carries for 97 yards, 1 TD)
Year to date 70 carries for 333 yards, 5 TD

Lattimore wasn’t needed much against Furman, landing only 19 carries one week after touching the ball nearly 40 times in a win over Georgia. He remained effective, nearly cracking the 100-yard mark and averaging more than five yard per carry for the first time in his young career. Lattimore’s importance to the South Carolina offense will again be on full display on Saturday, when the Gamecocks head to Auburn for their first road test of the year. Lattimore drops off the list with a U.S.C. loss; he may rise on this list with a win.

Week 4 at Auburn, Saturday

Dropped out

QB Matt Barkley, U.S.C. (Last Week: No. 7)
QB Case Keenum, Houston (Last week: No. 7)

Week 3 list Kellen Moore, No. 1
Week 2 list Kellen Moore, No. 1
Preseason list Kellen Moore, No. 1

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Comments

  1. charlie says:

    Seems that Taylor Martinez is ready to crash the list. Probably a longshot, but closer than Kaepernick.

    If NU goes undefeated, and Boise loses and Mich has 4 or 5 losses, Martinez may be the guy.

  2. BFahey says:

    I’m becoming more and more convinced Martinez is some sort of android/cyborg (more Six-Million-Dollar-Man than Terminator) so he may just play at this high of a level all season. I have to think rookie mistakes will creep in at some point keeping him almost completely off the radar all year followed by ample preseason Heisman hype for 2011.

  3. Jim Narby says:

    taylor martinez has no business within 30 names of the heisman list.

  4. Carson says:

    Check out Ed Wesley from TCU. Has simialr touchdown and yards to the other RB’s you have on the list, 47 carries for 384 yards,8.2 yards per carry and plays for the #5 ranked team. He might not be worthy of your top ten yet, but just keep an eye on the compact speedy back from Fort Worth

  5. Matt says:

    No love for LaMichael James? 227 yds on 14 carries is pretty impressive no matter who you’re playing.

  6. BFahey says:

    Narby,

    It may be hard to see the whole list through the haze of your Cohiba (I’m convinced that is you in the photo) but Denard Robinson is #5. If he’s on this list, Martinez merits mention though admittedly not serious consideration.

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