With college football under way, the sports world is already abuzz with Heisman talk. At this early stage, with the exception of Beanie Wells (whose injury may preclude his serious chances), most of the preseason watch-guys are still in the fray:
- Florida sensation Tim Tebow, who is still a multi-faceted threat (and who’s supposed girlfriend is extremely well-endowed)
- Missouri QB Chase Daniel, whose Mizzou Tigers are apparently “for real” (and can score points all day long)
- Sam Bradford, gunslinger for the seemingly rejuvenated Oklahoma Sooners — a team that knows how to play on the big stage
- Knowshon Moreno, the talented UGA back who inspired the hard-to-beat line, “If you don’t Know-shon, you don’t know shit…”
- and… new sexy pick-of-the-moment, BYU QB Max Hall, whose offense gave us 59 reasons to hold off (for now) on Rick Neuheisel’s coronation as King of California.
At this point in the season, it’s too early (at least for me) to create a sensible list of Heisman rankings. What I can do, however, is use my own opinions, aided by historical precedent, to create a list of who I think is most likely to win (not necessarily who will be most deserving).
#5: Max Hall
Sure, the guy threw 7 TD’s against UCLA, who beat Tennessee — and this will surely lead to Joe Sports Fan’s favorite line of reasoning: “A beat B. C crushed A. Therefore, C could easily hang with the boys in B’s conference.”
Without question, BYU can put up points; without question, Max Hall can throw the pigskin. He’s averaging 330+ yards and 4 TD’s in his first three games, for a passer rating of — get this — 186.
Unfortunately for Hall, he’s not the first mid-major QB to post ridiculous numbers. Remember this guy? And remember what happened when Hawaii faced a legit SEC team (UGA) in last year’s Sugar Bowl? They were demolished. Games like that resonate with both pundits and regular fans. While Max Hall may earn a token spot on the stage come year’s end, he won’t convince enough people to choose him above power-conference players with similar stats. (I wonder, though: If BYU were to somehow end up as the nation’s only undefeated team… and Hall threw for, say, 45 TD’s versus 5 picks… would he have a shot? My gut says, “No.”)
#4: Knowshon Moreno
As I’ve written before, one of my best friends is a recent Georgia grad, and he honestly believes that this is Georgia’s year — that this has to be Georgia’s year.
I’ll admit: I think the Bulldogs have a realistic chance to make it to this year’s BCS title game. They have a relatively vicious schedule, and if they can eke through it with one loss and win the SEC Championship game, no voter in America (it would seem) could keep them out of the BCS big one. Particularly if they were to lose only one game to a top-10 team (e.g., Florida, Alabama, LSU, Auburn — all of whom could conceivably be in the top 10 at the time they play the Bulldogs), there will be debates galore. (After all, USC and Oklahoma could both go undefeated. Welcome to the yearly BCS-bashing party.)
Unfortunately, the factors that favor UGA in their national title aspirations are the very factors that will kill Knowshon Moreno’s Heisman chances. Without question, the guy is a beast: He’s averaging almost 7 yards per carry this season, with 7 TD’s in three games. However, the Dawgs will face numerous tough defenses this year — as they do every year in the SEC. The last true running back to win the Heisman was Ron Dayne in 1999 (and all he did was break the all-time NCAA rushing mark); the last SEC back to win the trophy was Herschel Walker — another Bulldog — in 1982… the year before I was born.
In general, the Heisman is a QB award. Running backs who are able to win it (or come close) tend to do eye-popping things, like stack up ridiculous yardage totals, or play well on the big stage and clearly demonstrate that their team would be garbage without them (see: Mr. McFadden). Knowshon’s team is simply too well-rounded for him to break off the Heisman-requisite 150-200 yards a game — especially in smashmouth SEC games.
#3 Tim Tebow
The Guy Everyone Loves To Hate certainly posted some video-game stats last season — which is why I think he’ll fall short of a Heisman trophy this season.
The Home-School Hero overcame 4 losses in last year’s campaign to bring home the hardware, largely because his passing/rushing combination was so absurd. 55 touchdowns? Gimme a break.
This season, the Gators will surely be much more focused on team success. They too have a rough SEC schedule, and with the target sitting squarely on Tebow’s back, they’ll have to play a more well-rounded game in order to seriously contend for a BCS spot.
Also, there’s the whole Irony of Success angle: Even if TT posts 25 passing TD’s and runs for 12 more, his season will look thoroughly mediocre compared to last year. With the combination of a talent-heavy SEC and a bar that has been inevitably set too high, Tim Tebow likely won’t pull an Archie Griffin. (Then again — if the Gators manage to survive the SEC and play for the national title, voters could easily be swayed into believing that Tebow is the most valuable/important/talented player in America. Ahhh, the decisions!)
#2 Chase Daniel
If I had to choose someone I’d want to see win the Heisman, it’d be a guy like Mizzou QB Chase Daniel. The guy led a school known for — well — Quinn Snyder to a dream season.
I could care less what the Haters say… dude is the real deal. So far this season, Daniel has logged 10 TD’s and has a rating of nearly 200. Last week against Nevada, he was 23-28 for 400+ yards and 4 scores — a near perfect performance.
In my feebly humble opinion, awards like the Heisman (and MVPs in general) were designed precisely for athletes like Chase Daniel:
- He’s talented.
- He delivers strong stats.
- And, most importantly, he’s the clear-cut leader of his team. He reminds me of Allen Iverson circa 2001: a guy who takes an otherwise-OK team on his shoulders and leads them to their maximum potential — and beyond.
In reality, I’m not sure that voters will cling to Daniel, considering he comes from a rather obscure, albeit Big 12, school. Also, the Tigers face a few tough tests this season, with at Nebraska/home to OK St./at Texas being a particularly definitive three-game stretch.
Mizzou does not play Oklahoma this season. How cool would it be to see Chase Daniel play against…
#1 Sam Bradford
We can talk about the Sooners posting 50+ points in their first three games. We can talk about Bradford’s 80% completion percentage and 12 touchdowns.
Or, we could just show a picture of this guy: Pretty Good QB Playing For A Big 12 BCS Team.
The Sooners play Texas, Nebraska, Kansas, and Texas Tech, so I’m not sure they’ll go undefeated. But if they’re in the BCS, look for the “Starting QB on a Monster Team” theory to hold true.
… Which is why I’m surprised that relatively few people are talking about this guy as a front-runner. History tells us that if USC goes undefeated and he has decent stats, he’ll have a shot. (That’ll be material for another post — perhaps entitled “Dirty Sanchez”.)
***Remember: This what I think will happen. I’m still working on my own thoughts.***
Other Editors Note: MAO’s pre-season Heisman thoughts – August 27