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Posts Tagged ‘E.J. Manuel’

P.S.R. Heisman Watch: Week 4

It’s not unprecedented for the eventual Heisman winner to lose at least one game during the regular season – in fact, recent history shows that it’s just as common for the winner to lose at least once than it is for him to run the table. Of the last 10 Heisman winners, not counting Reggie Bush, five have lost at least one game during the regular season: Eric Crouch lost once, Carson Palmer lost twice, Tim Tebow lost three times, Sam Bradford lost once and Robert Griffin III lost three times. So the door to the Heisman is far from closed to Matt Barkley, who was unable to lead U.S.C. past Stanford on Saturday night. But one difference between Barkley and the five quarterbacks listed above is that Barkley entered the season as the undisputed favorite; that might help, in a way, but it might also open up a path for one of his prime challengers – De’Anthony Thomas or Geno Smith, for example – to put a stranglehold on the top spot. One thing is clear: Barkley can’t lose again. Before tackling the list, another installment of This Date in Heisman History:

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    P.S.R. Heisman Watch: Week 3

    The SEC rules the roost – Monday’s post touting the Big 12 notwithstanding. Beyond the national titles, the SEC has also staked a claim to the Heisman since 2007, when Tim Tebow was the league’s first of three Heisman winners in four years. So… what can’t the SEC do? While it’s going to be hard for a team to take out Alabama or L.S.U. in January, it seems – through two weeks, to be fair – that the SEC will not put forth a leading Heisman contender in 2012. For now, fringe and true-blooded candidates like Aaron Murray, Jarvis Jones, Eddie Lacy, Tyler Bray and Tyler Wilson stand removed from the Heisman’s upper crust. The good news? These players will have ample opportunities to state their case in October and November, when SEC opponents butt heads for conference supremacy. For a player like Murray and Jones, solid showings against Missouri are one thing; doing the same against Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina will make voters really stand up and take notice. Before getting to the list, another installment of This Date in Heisman History:

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      P.S.R. Heisman Watch: Week 2

      This week’s moving and shaking has not impacted the top group: the four or five leading contenders remain in place, with little movement. But along the back end, opening-week showings from several under-the-radar skill players – not too far under the radar, to be honest – has led to a retooling of the second tier. Who knew that Taylor Martinez had that sort of arm? Who knew that Denard Robinson was going to lay such an egg? The latter question raises another interesting idea: What does Robinson need to do to leap back into the mix for the Heisman? It won’t be merely about numbers for Michigan’s senior, though that’s certainly part and parcel of any player’s candidacy – Robinson needs to cut down on interceptions, do more with his legs, score touchdowns, what have you. But Robinson also needs highlight-reel moments, the sort that could remind the voting public why he remains one of the most dangerous players in college football; beyond that, he needs wins. A run to Pasadena would put the bloom back on Robinson’s rose. Before getting to the list, another installment of This Date in Heisman History:

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        P.S.R. 2012 Heisman Watch: Preseason

        Remember when Andrew Luck was a lock for the Heisman? His Heisman campaign took off roughly midway through his sophomore season, when Luck led Stanford to its first major breakthrough, and then reached a fever pitch once he opted to return for one more season with the Cardinal. At this point a year ago, Luck was the odds-on favorite to not only win the Heisman but to win it with ease – going wire-to-wire unlike any Heisman winner in recent memory. That Luck didn’t was not a reflection on his own level of play, which was superb, but rather an illustration of just how hard it is to maintain your grasp on the top spot while dozens of other qualified candidates state their case over the three months of the regular season. Last fall, Luck’s early lead evaporated once Robert Griffin III led Baylor to its finest season in decades, if not the finest season in school history. A year later, Matt Barkley finds himself in a similar situation. Before getting to the leading contenders, the first installment of This Date in Heisman History:

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          No. 3: Florida State

          Miami is no longer a threat. Florida’s lack of offensive punch has left the Gators lagging behind. Nowadays, Florida State’s title quest runs through two A.C.C. opponents: Clemson in the Atlantic, Virginia Tech in the Coastal. For every team with title aspirations, the first step towards greatness comes during conference play; the Seminoles must first tackle the Tigers and Hokies before turning their sights towards the rest of college football’s landscape. But with this the year that F.S.U. puts it all together under Jimbo Fisher, the Seminoles can begin readjusting their line of vision – the Seminoles can think bigger, beyond the boundaries of the A.C.C., and begin measuring themselves against the truly elite: Alabama, Oregon, L.S.U., U.S.C., Georgia, Oklahoma and the rest. How does F.S.U. measure up? The talent is there. The coaching is there. The confidence is there. The schedule is certainly there. What’s this team’s ceiling? Try Sun Life Stadium – on Jan. 7, 2013.

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            The Year in Review: Florida St. (9-4, 5-3)

            Imagine we live in an alternate universe, one where the University of Alabama system Board of Trustees can’t unilaterally dictate the ebb and flow of its athletic programs located outside of Tuscaloosa. It’s a difficult situation to consider, I know, but suspend your disbelief for the interest of this scenario. So it’s the winter of 2006, and U.A.B. reaches out to — nay, actually agrees to a contract with — L.S.U. offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher, who had just completed his seventh season as an assistant in Baton Rouge. The contract, which hovered around $600,000 annually, was very much in line with what Fisher demanded as a national title-winning assistant coach; in addition, two members of the U.A.B. community offered to pay half of his annual contract.

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              Big East Wins, Loses: B.C.S. Themes

              Fittingly, the two programs that left the Big East in the cold — that first left the Big East in the cold — were the conference’s lone losers on Saturday. In a weekend where the Big East fared well, notching two wins over B.C.S. conference competition, the primary development was the league’s impending destruction: Syracuse and Pittsburgh are gone, soon to be joined by at least one, perhaps two conference brethren, and the Orange and the Panthers followed up that disappointment with a pair of disappointing defeats. Thanks for nothing, says the Big East. Touching on that and other themes from Saturday’s B.C.S. conference action:

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                No. 4: Florida State

                Vintage. Vintage is watching Notre Dame not for the sense of schadenfreude you get from watching Syracuse win in South Bend but for the fact that the Irish are a title contender. Vintage is Nebraska-Oklahoma, and we’re all sad that rivalry is officially dead. Vintage is Steve Spurrier riling up the SEC; is Alabama intimidating all comers; is T.C.U. back as a national power after decades spent in the background; is Michigan not cowering in front of Ohio State; is West Virginia going the unorthodox route. Vintage is Florida State in the top five, where the Seminoles made a home for 14 straight years, from 1987-2000. Vintage is all that the Seminoles are in 2011: big, fast, strong, quick and mean — now that’s vintage, both for Florida State and college football at large.

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                  The Countdown

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