C.O.W., Part 2 - The Other Heisman Candidates
Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon
Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon
Posted Dec 7, 2010

Cam Newton is going to win the Heisman, but who are the other top Heisman candidates?

Cavalcade of Whimsy

Dec. 6 - Week 14, Part 2

By Pete Fiutak

 Dec. 6 - Rich, Cam, and the NCAA's rulings

The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
91.8%. That was the record-setting percentage of first place votes received by Reggie Bush when he won the Heisman (yes, he won the Heisman) in 2005. Even with the off-the-field issues, Cam Newton might still win by an even bigger margin. At least Vince Young was a more-than-worthy No. 2 five years ago; there isn't one this year.

Voting for Newton was a no-brainer, but I stumbled when deciding on my second and third place choices. Usually I have no problems after writing about the Heisman and talking about it for weeks, but I changed my two and three several times before submitting. So with the drama taken out of it and with Newton the slam-dunk winner, here are the other ten players who deserve recognition for being among the signature players of the 2010 college football season.

10. QB Bryant Moniz, Jr. Hawaii

Only 6-0 and 190 pounds, Moniz isn't huge, but he has a good arm for his size and he's not afraid to shy away from contact. Injuries were a problem in the past, but he was healthy this year and the numbers were there to prove it.

Colt Brennan was a monster in 2006, throwing for 5,549 yards and 58 touchdowns, but he was a Heisman finalist in 2007 completing 70% of his throws for 4,343 yards and 38 touchdowns with 17 interceptions with eight rushing scores. This year, Moniz led the nation in total offense with 4,705 yards with 4,629 passing yards, 36 touchdowns and 11 picks, and he ran for four scores. While he crashed against Boise State with just 127 yards and no scores, he was terrific throughout the rest of the year beating Nevada with 287 yards and three touchdowns and bombing away for 532 yards against Louisiana Tech and 560 yards against San Jose State, which turned out to be the two biggest total yardage games by anyone this year. Consider him a fringe candidate in 2011.

9. QB Tyrod Taylor, Sr. Virginia Tech
The Hokies are known for their fantastic ground game, great special teams, and strong defense, but it was Taylor who carried them to an ACC title and a berth in the Orange Bowl. The killer for the Heisman résumé, and the Virginia Tech season, is the James Madison game, with just 124 passing yards, a touchdown, an interception, and 86 rushing yards in the inexplicable loss, but he has been flawless throughout the rest of the season with just one interception and 15 touchdowns over the last eight games. The leader of a tremendous 11-game winning streak, he has thrown for 2,521 yards and 23 touchdowns with just four picks, and he has run for 637 yards and five scores. He should've been more in the mix for some of the post-season awards, like the Unitas, and a case could be made that he's college football's most underappreciated star. While he's just 6-1 and 217 pounds, he's an improved passer, extremely mobile, and now, he's a three-time ACC champion.

8. RB Jordan Todman, Jr. Connecticut
Complain all you want about Connecticut being in the Fiesta Bowl, but it's in, and it wouldn't be even close without Todman. The Huskies can't throw the ball, ranking last in the Big East and 112th in the nation in passing, and 113th in passing efficiency; everyone knows the fastball is coming, but can't hit it. Even though the nation's No. 2 rusher is the target of every defensive gameplan, and even though he missed the Buffalo game, when he would've fattened the stats up big-time, he still managed to run for 1,574 yards and 14 touchdowns with a Big East-season defining 222 yards on 37 carries against Pitt and 175 yards and three scores against Cincinnati. Only 5-9 and 190 pounds, he's arguably the toughest pound-for-pound player in America.

7. QB Denard Robinson, Soph. Michigan
What position would he play? That was the big question before spring ball as the 6-0, 188-pound sophomore appeared to be the No. 2 man at quarterback (at best) and with the coaching staff wanting to get his athleticism (he was a Florida state-champion level sprinter) on the field. And then he showed off why he's a quarterback, improving his passing to go along with his phenomenal rushing skills.

Remember, there was a time in the first half of the season when the Heisman chase was over. Robinson was electric throwing for 200 yards or more in four of the first six games, while running for 991 yards and nine scores over the first half, but then he started to get dinged up, struggled to get through games, and was less than effective in several key games. Even so, he still finished fourth in the nation in rushing with 1,643 yards with 14 scores and he threw for 2,316 yards and 16 touchdowns with ten interceptions. Considering the poor defense and all the struggles the team had with its consistency, he was the reason the program took a step forward and he's the reason it's going to a bowl game.

6. LB Luke Kuechly, Soph. Boston College
Was Kuechly's outstanding freshman season a fluke? He finished second in the nation in tackles with double-digit stops in the last nine games of the season. However, he didn't get much national attention from anyone outside of CFN, mostly because the story of the Boston College linebacking corps was the health of Mark Herzlich. This year, Keuchly not only proved that he wasn't a one-year wonder, he improved, finishing with a nation-leading 171 tackles, 20 more than the No. 2 man, Mason Foster. His 102 solo tackles alone would've tied him for 61st in the nation along with Florida's Ahmad Black and ahead of big names like Michigan State's Greg Jones and Oklahoma's Travis Lewis. How productive was he? The ten tackles he made against Syracuse in the season-finale was his lowest output of the season.

5. RB LaMichael James, Soph. Oregon
A Heisman finalist and a mortal lock to win the Doak Walker Award as the nation's best running back, James was the showstopper for the nation's most fearsome offense. He overcame his off-the-field problems that kept him out of the season-opener against New Mexico to lead the nation with 1,682 yards and 21 touchdowns, while catching 13 passes for 169 yards and a score. Not just a home run specialist, he ran the ball 281 times with 20 caries or more in each of the last nine games, working both inside and out, pounding away until he got an opening and BOOM. Game over.

How much did he mean to the team? The Ducks were seriously challenged just two times this year, against Arizona State and Cal, and he was held to under 100 yards in both games. It's not like he was shut down, running for 94 against the Sun Devils and 91 against the Bears, but when he wasn't quite as explosive, and the offense showed it. His biggest game of the season came in the team's biggest win, ripping up Stanford for 257 yards and three scores.

4. QB Kellen Moore, Jr. Boise State
At 6-0 and 186 pounds Moore isn't big, has a decent arm, and he's not all that mobile, but he's accurate and he's 37-2 record as the starter. His stats would've been far more amazing if he had to play a full sixty minutes in more games. The Heisman finalist finished second in the nation in passing efficiency (behind Mr. Newton) completing 71% of his throws for 3,506 yards and 33 touchdowns with five interceptions. He threw two of more touchdown passes in every game and he only threw multiple picks in one game, the 42-7 obliteration of Hawaii, when he threw for 507 yards and three scores. It might not be fair, but if Kyle Brotzman had nailed the game-winning kick against Nevada, Moore's phenomenal late heave, and the miraculous Titus Young grab, might have solidified the No. 2 spot in the Heisman race.

3. QB Andrew Luck, Soph. Stanford
Luck had a great year and was the main reason Stanford finished No. 4 in the BCS, got to the Orange Bowl, and was on the fringe of the national title discussion. However, the Heisman finalist might have to settle for being the school's second-straight runner-up and the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. He has it all with size, smarts, temperament, arm, and mobility, running for 438 yards and three scores to go along with 3,051 yards, 28 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. After throwing two interceptions in back-to-back games against Notre Dame and Oregon, he tossed just three interceptions the rest of the way and didn't have any other multi-pick games. While he might have been on the losing end of the Oregon game, he threw for a season-high 341 yards and two scores and ran for a touchdown.

2. QB Colin Kaepernick, Sr. Nevada
Only three players in the history of college football have run and thrown for 20 touchdowns in the same season, and two of those seasons led to a Heisman win. Tim Tebow won it in 2007 after being the first to set the mark, Cam Newton will win it this year, and Kaepernick is the third, running for 20 scores and throwing for 20. With one more game against Boston College in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, he'll finish his career with more than 10,000 passing yards and more than 4,000 rushing yards, combining with Vai Taua for the most rushing yards by any duo in the history of college football. But the Heisman is based on a season, not a career, and he took the Wolf Pack to 12-1 with a classic win over Boise State and a 52-31 win over a Cal team that almost beat Oregon. As good a leader as he was, he got my No. 3 vote for the historic stats, running for 1,184 yards and 20 scores, and throwing for 2,830 yards and 20 touchdowns with seven interceptions. Oh yeah, and he was the leader of the WAC champion and the greatest season in Nevada football history.

1. WR Justin Blackmon, Jr. Oklahoma State
Pitt's Larry Fitzgerald came within an eyelash of winning the 2003 Heisman after catching 87 passes for 1,595 yards and 22 touchdowns in 12 regular season games. It was an awesome, dominant season that was among the greatest in college football history. With one fewer game on the résumé, hurt by a one-game suspension for an off-the-field incident, Blackmon caught 102 passes for 1,664 yards and 18 touchdowns while setting an NCAA record for catching at least one touchdown pass and gaining at least 100 yards in every game he played in. Unstoppable, he caught ten passes or more in five games and produced against everyone.

Nebraska had the best pass defense in the Big 12, but it gave up five caches for 157 yards and two scores to Blackmon, hurt mostly by an 80-yarder. How impressive was Blackmon's season? His 151 yards per game were 22 more per game than the No. 2 man, Hawaii's Greg Salas. To put that into perspective, he averaged 15% more yards per game than the second most productive receiver in America, and he averaged more receiving yards per game than ten teams. I put him in as my runner-up.

Random Acts of Nutty … Provocative musings and tidbits to make every woman want you and every man want to be you (or vice versa) a.k.a. things I didn't feel like writing bigger blurbs for.

- Denard Robinson was named the Big Ten Player of the Year. So he was the First Team All-Big Ten quarterback, right? No, that was Northwestern's Dan Persa. So he had to be second-team, right? No, that was Wisconsin's Scott Tolzien. - Pointed out by a reader. Tennessee-Chattanooga lost to Oklahoma in 2008 57-2. The Sooners went on to play in the BCS Championship. UTC lost to Alabama 45-0 last year. The Tide won the national title. This year, the Mocs got the honor of losing to Auburn 62-24.

- The Unitas Award couldn't go to a better guy than Wisconsin's Scott Tolzien.

- The curious fun-stat of the week. FIU converted just 1-of-11 third down conversions against Middle Tennessee, but QB Wesley Carroll completed 15-of-19 passes on the day.

- The nation's hottest running back to end the season … Hawaii's Alex Green? The senior ran for 463 yards and four touchdowns on just 34 carries, averaging 13.6 yards per crack over his last two games.

C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated: Complaining about UConn in the Fiesta … Underrated: Oklahoma's last two Fiesta Bowl appearances
2) Overrated: The Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl … Underrated: Nebraska 56, Washington 21
3) Overrated: BCS Championship over of 74.5 ... Underrated: BCS Championship under of 74.5
4) Overrated: TCU playing in the Rose ... Underrated: Stanford playing in the Orange
5) Overrated: The 2009-2010 bowl matchups ... Underrated: The 2010-2011 bowl matchups

"Tracy did mention we shouldn't let him gamble. Or drink too much."… All the bowl picks to come next week. … Week 14 Results: 1) Connecticut +1.5 over South Florida (W, 19-16), 2) Hawaii -35 over UNLV (W, 59-21), 3) Northern Illinois -17 over Miami University (L, 26-21) … Record So Far: ATS 23-13-2

This week's picks: 1) Navy -7 over Army, 2) Auburn -3 over Oregon, 3) Nebraska -13 over Washington

My Heisman ballot cast for the Most Outstanding College Football Player in the United States for 2010. … 1) Cam Newton, QB Auburn, 2) Justin Blackmon, WR Oklahoma State, 3) Colin Kaepernick, QB Nevada

Sorry this column sucked, it wasn't my fault … it was ineligible on Monday but reinstated on Wednesday.

 Dec. 6 - Rich, Cam, and the NCAA's rulings