As with all “Heisman Watches,” the one we’ll compile here at Atlantic Coast Convos isn’t about who’s having the best individual statistical season, but who’s experiencing the most combined individual and team success overall. So while player X may have 2,000 passing yards through five games, if his team’s 1-4, there’s no shot. With that in mind, let’s go to this week’s Heisman hopefuls — now viewed from a nationwide standpoint:
With no ACC player even near the Heisman Trophy conversation, let’s just get on to the nation’s top five candidates, in order:
1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford (3,170 passing yards/37 total TD/9 INT/70.0% completion): Say what you want about Stanford’s schedule (just one win over a ranked team — USC), but is it really their fault the Pac-12 isn’t up to par? Luck has performed admirably this season and is the main force behind the Cardinal’s 11-1 record. Even without an additional chance to prove himself in the Pac-12 title game, I still believe the Heisman belongs to Andrew Luck.
2. Case Keenum, QB, Houston (4,726 passing yards/46 total TD/3 INT/73.2% completion): Houston is blowing out opponents lately, but even in shortened action, Keenum has been incredibly impressive. With over 300 yards passing in every game this season, a 12-0 record, and a conference title and BCS berth on the line, it’ll be hard to ignore Keenum’s resume when the votes are finally tallied. Frighteningly, 50 touchdowns and 5,000 yards are both within reach.
3. Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin (1,870 total yards/34 total TD): If Montee Ball played for Alabama or LSU, he’d be the overwhelming favorite to win this award. Since Wisconsin has two losses in a down year for the Big Ten though, his 34 total touchdowns have gone virtually unrecognized on the national stage until his recent four-score performance against Penn State. As I’ve said before — I don’t care who you’re playing for. These numbers are impressive at any level, against any opponent.
4. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama (1,910 total yards/23 total TD): Richardson rushed the ball extremely well against rival Auburn, racking up 203 yards on just 27 carries. What he’s lacked though is a real signature game against a worthy opponent. Still, his team is 11-1, plays in the SEC and their only loss was in overtime to the nation’s number-one school. Taking all of that into account, it’s not hard to see why he’s been moved to the top of several mock ballots, however debatable his credentials may be in comparison to his peers.
5. Matt Barkley, QB, USC (3,528 passing yards/41 total TD/7 INT/69.1% completion): Avoiding the “what if” game with Barkley’s chances and USC’s postseason ban, just examine his statistics on their own. The junior quarterback has accounted for 18 touchdowns in the past four games — a staggering total. He’s gotten more impressive and poised as the season’s progressed. He has dominated and embarrassed teams in recent games. And all for a team that had no chance to go anywhere at the end of this season. As the Trojans’ leader, he proved himself worthy of Heisman consideration and should get at least an invite to New York.