Cavalcade of Whimsy
Nov. 15, 2011, Part 2
- Part 1. Penn State's rough
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The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
The ten players who aren’t in the Heisman race, but should be …
10. WR Jordan White, Sr. Western Michigan
The sixth-year senior officially leads the nation with 99 catches for 1,283 yards and 12 touchdowns. Now add in the Michigan game that doesn’t count. The loss to the Wolverines was taken off the record books because it ended in the third quarter due to bad weather, depriving White of 12 more catches for 119 yards. Adding in the extra numbers and he’s the best statistical receiver in America by far, averaging 11.1 catches per game, while the No. 2 man, Mohamed Sanu of Rutgers, averages 9.4. Including the Michigan game, which hurts him in the yards per game category, he still averages 12 more yards per game than Oklahoma’s Ryan Broyles did. These aren’t just big numbers against MAC teams, catching 14 passes for 132 yards and a score against Illinois, and 12 catches for 173 yards and two scores against Connecticut. However, last week was his best game of the year, catching 16 passes for 238 yards and three scores against Toledo.
9. RB Rex Burkhead, Jr. Nebraska
He’s not all that big and he’s not particularly fast, but considering the Nebraska offense is doing a whole bunch of nothing through the air, and with the defense coming up with a merely average year, Burkhead has been carrying the team to a possible Legends title. While he was stunningly stuffed by Northwestern for just 69 yards and a score on 22 carries, he dominated in last week’s emotional game against Penn State with 121 hard yards and a score, and he came up with a terrific performance in the key win over Michigan State with 130 yards and two touchdowns. Stats don’t tell the story, running for 1,072 yards and 14 touchdowns, but if Nebraska wins the Big Ten title, he’ll be the reason.
8. QB Matt Barkley, Jr. USC
Shhhhh, USC is 8-2. Considering the Trojans can’t go to a bowl and can’t play in the inaugural Pac-12 championship, they’ve had to invent ways to keep the season interesting. It was hard to do last year with close loss after close loss, but this season, Barkley has been an unquestioned leader who’s taking a young, talented team to big things. If USC can beat Oregon and make a claim to being the league’s champion, he deserves to be the MVP over Andrew Luck and LaMichael James. The six touchdown passes against Colorado were nice, and the 29 touchdown passes and six picks on the year are impressive, but he deserves a bigger spotlight – even for a USC quarterback – for being the face of the program during the rough times.
7. RB David Wilson, Jr. Virginia Tech
Third in the nation in rushing, Wilson has turned on the production at just the right time to make a possible run to the ACC title. The coaching staff loves him and he’s known for being one of the team’s hardest-working players. It shows with 1,360 yards and seven touchdowns highlighted by last week’s 175-yard day against Georgia Tech, and he has run for 123 yards or more in every game except for the win over Arkansas State, when he was held to 85 yards and a score. He was strong in the loss to Clemson, and he might get a shot to carry the way to a win in a rematch if he can lead the Hokies past North Carolina and Virginia.
6. DE Whitney Mercilus, Jr. Illinois
While he might not be the nation’s best defensive player, he’s proving to be the most disruptive. The high-motor speed rusher leads the nation with 12.5 sacks, two sacks more than Marshall’s Vinny Curry, and he’s fourth in tackles for loss with 17.5. When he gets to the quarterback he makes big things happen, leading the nation with seven forced fumbles including five in the last five weeks. Basically, he’s not the cause for the Illini slide, and he’s doing what he can do help out a defense that’s been a bright spot over the last month.
5. QB Tajh Boyd, Soph. Clemson
While he threw four interceptions over the last two games, and the loss to Georgia Tech is still lingering, Boyd is helping to carry the team to just outside of the national title chase. At the very least, he and Sammy Watkins have been the catalysts to a division title and a berth in the ACC championship, pushing the ball down the field adding a deep pass element to the attack, while also running for four scores and 191 yards adding a little mobility to the mix. The interceptions have to stop and he has to lead the way to a 12-1 record and an ACC title to be the league’s MVP over David Wilson, but at the moment, he’s as deserving of an MVP Heisman invite as much as any quarterback in America.
4. QB Tyler Wilson, Jr. Arkansas
Arkansas lost star running back Knile Davis before the season began, and week after week, Wilson has had to carry the Hog offense on his shoulders against the best defenses in America. He’s not exactly buckling under the pressure, one miserable decision against South Carolina for a pick-six aside. Taking over for Ryan Mallett, Wilson has been able to make the team his with a steady 2,850 yards and 18 touchdowns with just five picks. The 510 yards and three scores against Texas A&M turned the season back around after the loss to Alabama, and the 299-yard day against the Gamecocks two weeks ago kept the SEC title dream alive. If he manages to rock against LSU in a few weeks and if he can pull off the upset, he’ll be a last-minute entry on plenty of ballots.
3. LB Luke Kuechly, Jr. Boston College
The nation’s top tackling machine is doing what he can to make the season interesting. BC floundered so much early on that there wasn’t any hope of coming back late to end up with a bowl appearance. Even so, the Eagles are still fighting winning two of the last three games with Kuechly making 12 tackles in the win over Maryland and 18 last week in the win over NC State. The stats are unreal, with 19 tackles against Virginia Tech, 20 against Florida State, and 23 against Duke. On the year, Kuechly has made 11 stops or more in every game, and they’re not cheap; he’s in on every play. How many tackles has he made? His 168 stops are 30 more than the No. 2 man, Akron’s Brian Wagner, and his solo stops along would put him close to the top 20 overall. Consider it a crime if he doesn’t win the Butkus and every other possible defensive award.
2. QB Collin Klein, Jr. Kansas State
It’s possible that Klein could be the best quarterback in the Big 12 this year and not even be an honorable mention honoree. Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma’s Landry Jones, and Baylor’s Robert Griffin have all been Heisman-worthy at times, and Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill should be a top 50 draft pick, but in many ways, Klein has outplayed them all.
Those four quarterbacks are on teams loaded with talent. Klein has nothing to work with whatsoever outside of John Hubert, a nice back, but not good enough to take over the offense.
Klein is second in the nation in scoring with 24 rushing touchdowns to go along with ten passing scores, and he has picked up his game at just the right time. Just when it seemed like he was only a runner, he came up with 231 yards through the air in a scintillating performance against Oklahoma State, and he threw for 281 last week in the four overtime thriller over Texas A&M. Lately it’s been Klein, Klein, and more Klein, running 90 times over the last three games and running for a whopping 20 scores in the last six games, coming through when the team needs him the most on the way to an 8-2 start.
1. RB Montee Ball, Jr. Wisconsin
Other than Ron Dayne, Wisconsin running backs are treated like Texas Tech quarterbacks when it comes to the Heisman race. But in a year when no one is stepping up and taking the trophy by the horns, Ball is showing that he’s deserving of the prize.
QB Russell Wilson got the Heisman hype early on, and he’s playing at a high level, but it’s Ball who’s taking the team to a possible second straight Rose Bowl with a Big Ten record-setting 27 touchdowns and a nation-leading 162 points.
After dropping weight in the offseason, he’s not the pounder he was last year, but he’s still physical while showing an extra shiftiness he didn’t have last season. Not needed much against UNLV or South Dakota, he got his touchdowns in early and then moved to the bench in blowouts – hurting his overall rushing numbers. He didn’t run for two scores in just two games this year – the losses against Michigan State and Ohio State – but he ran for one against both teams and he also caught a touchdown pass in both losses, while running for 115 yards against the Spartans and 85 against Ohio State despite getting banged up early.
At the very least, he deserves to be in the Doak Walker discussion, and this year, there’s no one outside of Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden who has been a better combination of a most valuable player and a most outstanding one. He still won’t get within ten miles of New York.
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.
- Watch out for the Pac-12 schedules in future years, because weather could become an issue for the warm-weather teams. Of course, Washington State isn’t exactly Palm Springs in mid-November - Arizona State didn’t play up to its usual self, losing 37-27 in the rain and snow – but the addition of Colorado and Utah will change up things for several warm-blooded teams. Arizona lost in the windy conditions of Colorado, while UCLA supposedly hadn’t played in snow in over 30 years. It showed in a 31-6 loss to Utah.
- Because watching Boise State games on its played-out gimmick of a blue field isn’t hard enough, it was as if the team went out of its way to get people to not watch by adding the orange uniforms to the equation.
- How is Oklahoma State in the national title hunt? The 66-6 score over Texas Tech might have finally provided a clue.
C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated: New Mexico beating UNLV … Underrated: Crusoe Gongbay
2) Overrated: White Shirts … Underrated: Blue Shirts
3) Overrated: Second Mile ... Underrated: Cornerstone of Hope
4) Overrated: Removing the Paterno name from the Big Ten championship trophy ... Underrated: The Stagg Trophy
5) Overrated: An undefeated Houston ... Underrated:
The Amherst Lord Jeffs’ perfect season
“If it were me, I'd bet everything. But that's me. I'm an aggressive gambler. Mr. Vegas. Come on. Go for it. Go for it. Yes, yes, there we go. I'm in.”
1) Minnesota +16.5 over Northwestern (but not straight up)
2) Louisville PICK over Connecticut
3) Air Force -22 over UNLV
- Record So Far: 14-6 SU, 12-8 ATS
If the college football season ended right now, this would be my Heisman ballot cast for the Most Outstanding College Football Player in the United States for 2011 … 1) QB Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State, 2) RB Montee Ball, Wisconsin, 3) QB Collin Klein, Kansas State
Sorry this column sucked, it wasn’t my fault … I tweeted that I was having dinner with a head of a PR firm that represents pro athletes and got suspended for the Florida State game. But Ray-Ray Armstrong’s tweet was far deeper.
- Part 1. Penn State's rough