2008 Brutally Honest Heisman Breakdown

Posted Oct 6, 2008

Forget about that Sun Belt running back who's putting up monster numbers. The star dual threat MAC quarterback doesn't have a shot. The Heisman goes to the best quarterback or running back from a top BCS team. Pete Fiutak gives the first look at the chase in the 2008 Brutally Honest Heisman Breakdown.

2008 Brutally Honest Heisman Breakdown

Week One

By Pete Fiutak   

Let's cut through the garbage, the pomp, the circumstance, the PR BS, and the hype surrounding the greatest individual award in all of sports. The Heisman Trophy goes to the most celebrated quarterback or running back from a top BCS team or a top 25 non-BCS program, and while others will be acknowledged here if they have any prayer of potentially finishing in the top five, it'll take something extraordinary to get on this list. Let's not pretend the hot Sun Belt back or the dual threat MAC quarterback has an honest chance. Remember, Tulane's Matt Forte and UCF's Kevin Smith each ran for over 2,000 yards last year and weren't within 5,000 yards of winning the Heisman.

This isn't a ranking of the best players or top NFL prospects. This is an attempt to put the finger on the pulse of the Heisman chase. So without further ado, here are the current favorites AT THE MOMENT (and this will change week after week with players moving in and out of the categories).

No Current Chance To Win It, But Has Finalist Potential

RB Donald Brown, Jr. Connecticut

Last Week:
Brown ran 33 times for 161 yards and a touchdown in the 38-13 loss to North Carolina.

The nation's leading rusher hasn't made a blip on the national scene, but that could quickly change if he's able to lead the team to some big Big East wins over the next several weeks. If he continues to averaged 178 yards per game and if UConn bounces back from the loss to North Carolina and starts winning, he could be a sleeper for a finalists slot.

QB David Johnson, Sr. Tulsa

Last Week:
Johnson completed 13-of-25 passes for 177 yards and four touchdowns with an interception in the 63-28 win over Rice.

Give the sports world about a month, after Tulsa obliterates SMU, UTEP and UCF to go 8-0, and then the hype will kick in for the nation's No. 1 offense. Fine, so the coaching and the system have a lot to do with it, Paul Smith led the nation's best offense last year and no one had any clue who he was, but Johnson has been special so far. The nation's leader in passing efficiency needs a big win over Arkansas on November 1st, he has finalist potential in a Colt Brennan sort of way.

RB LeSean McCoy, Soph. Pitt

Last Week:
McCoy ran 28 times for 142 yards and two touchdowns, and caught three passes for 23 yards in the 26-21 win over South Florida.

Pitt's starting to get really hot just at the right time. McCoy falls under the pro prospect category. As long as Pitt keeps winning, McCoy will get more and more press as he should be a top 20 selection if he comes out in next year's draft. If he carries the Panthers to a Big East title, he'll be a fringe finalist candidate.

QB Zac Robinson, Jr. Oklahoma State

Last Week:
Robinson completed 10-of-13 passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns, and ran 15 times for 66 yards and two scores in the 56-28 win over Texas A&M

Call this a one-week trial period. Someone from the Oklahoma State offense has to be represented, and Dez Bryant is still too much of an unknown. If Robinson blows up and beats Chase Daniel and Missouri in Columbus this week, he'll suddenly be in the thick of the chase. He's currently third in the nation in passing efficiency.

RB Charles Scott, Jr. LSU

Last Week:
Scott ran 27 times for 141 yards and two touchdowns in the 34-24 win over Mississippi State two weeks ago.

If Scott has a big day against Florida this week and LSU wins, he'll go from being one of the SEC's better kept national secrets to a major factor in the Heisman chase. The nation's seventh-leading rusher, and the SEC's leader, has been consistent, but he needs a blow up game to be seen as the face of a national title contender.

On The Radar, But The World Is Looking For More

QB Max Hall, Jr. BYU

Last Week:
Hall completed 23-of-37 passes for 303 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions in the 34-14 win over Utah State. 

Ultra-efficient and a fantastic leader for the high-octane Cougar attack, Hall will have a shot to be a Heisman finalist if he can shine on national television against TCU in two weeks and against Utah at the end of the year. However, he has to lead the team to a BCS game and his numbers have to keep going up to be a finalist.

WR Jeremy Maclin, Soph. Missouri

Last Week:
Maclin caught five passes for 89 yards and a touchdown, and ran three times for 15 yards and returned two kickoffs for 56 yards in the 52-17 win over Nebraska.

It takes something extra special to be a wide receiver/kick returner and be in the hunt for the Heisman. Florida's Percy Harvin will be on this list before the season is over, and Oklahoma State's Dez Bryant deserves to be in the Heisman hunt, as well. But it's Maclin who has the buzz at the moment and will have the spotlight on over the next few weeks. He won't win the Heisman considering he's on the same team as Chase Daniel, but he could end up in New York if Mizzou stays in the national title hunt.

RB Knowshon Moreno, Soph. Georgia

Last Week:
Moreno ran nine times for 41 yards and a touchdown in the 41-30 loss to Alabama two weeks ago.

Moreno's campaign took a huge hit with the loss to Alabama, but a few big games, including back-to-back dates against LSU and Florida, could make him this year's Darren McFadden (if it's not Beanie Wells) and give him the honor of being the nation's best and most respected football player. That doesn't necessarily translate into winning the Heisman, but if Georgia gets back in the national title chase, Moreno can make a strong run.

QB Mark Sanchez, Jr. USC

Last Week:
Sanchez completed 19-of-28 passes for 332 yards and three touchdowns in the 44-10 win over Oregon.

He's the starting quarterback for USC. By default that makes him one of the favorites for the Heisman. Even though he threw a bad pick, he didn't get too much, if any of the blame for the loss to Oregon State. Instead, he was seen as the guy who tried to kick-start his punchless team. If he has more Oregon-like games the rest of the way, especially against Cal and Notre Dame, he'll be in New York.

QB Tim Tebow, Jr. Florida

Last Week:
Tebow completed 17-26 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns with an interception, and he ran 12 times for 32 yards, in the 38-7 win over Arkansas.

Still in the hunt only because he won it last year, Tebow hasn't been anywhere near the same statistical dynamo. His rushing yardage is down, but he leads the SEC in passing efficiency and hasn't been bad by any means. However, he needs a big performance against LSU this week, he needs to rock against Georgia on November 1st, and he needs to take the Gators to the SEC title game.

RB Beanie Wells, Jr. Ohio State
Last Week:
Wells ran 22 times for 168 yards and a touchdown in the 20-17 win over Wisconsin.

Heisman campaigns usually take a sweeping left turn around the midseason. Last year, Tim Tebow was an interesting curiosity, but he didn't start to kick in the campaign until November. Beanie already had one jaw-dropping nationally televised performance in the win over Wisconsin, and he'll have more than his share of chances to get even more publicity over the final six games.

QB Pat White, Sr. West Virginia

Last Week:
White completed 12-of-17 passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns, and ran 11 times for 59 yards in three quarters of play in the 24-17 win over Rutgers.

This is a nod out of pure and utter respect. White should've been a finalist last year, and he likely would've won it had the voting been done after the bowls. Unfortunately, he can't seem to stay healthy this year and the Mountaineers are merely average. A great game in a win over Auburn in two weeks would get the Heisman campaign going, but if he doesn't take his team to the BCS, he's not going to New York.

The True Favorites

QB Graham Harrell, Sr. Texas Tech
Last Week:
Harrell completed 38-of-51 passes for 454 yards and six touchdowns, and he ran for a score, in the 58-28 win over Kansas State.

It's Colt Brennan against a real schedule. The offense is just starting to heat up, and the ring-leader of the nation's best passing attack will start to be seen more as a real, live Heisman contender if he can pull off wins at Kansas and against Texas over the next month. The stats will get him in the door, but he's not closing without the wins.

QB Colt McCoy, Jr. Texas

Last Week:
McCoy completed 23-of-30 passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions, and ran 11 times for 39 yards, in the 38-14 win over Colorado.

McCoy would deserve the Heisman if the season ended right now. He's fourth in the nation in passing efficiency, 10th in total offense leads the team in rushing, and has completed a ridiculous 79% of his passes with 16 touchdowns and three interceptions. Of course, the Heisman goes bye-bye if he can't beat Oklahoma.

QB Sam Bradford, Soph. Oklahoma

Last Week:
Bradford completed 23-of-31 passes for 372 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. He also ran for a touchdown in the 49-14 win over Baylor.

Bradford holds the honor being the guy everyone kind of wanted to vote for as a finalist last year, but got pushed out because there were so many other choices. No. 2 in the nation in passing efficiency and seventh in total offense, he has been flawless outside of the two interceptions he threw against Cincinnati. On the year he has completed 73% of his passes for 1,665 yards and 18 touchdowns with three picks.

RB Javon Ringer, Sr. Michigan State

Last Week:
Ringer ran 25 times for 91 yards in the win over Iowa.

His workhorse ability has led the way to big numbers, but the nation's second leading rusher is being beaten on. Iowa threw everyone by Nile Kinnick at Ringer last week and held him in check. Now the Spartan star has to come up with big performances against Northwestern, Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin to go from being on everyone's radar screen to the finalist forefront.

And The Current Leader In The Clubhouse Is ...

QB Chase Daniel, Sr. Missouri

Last Week:
Daniel completed 18-of-23 passes for 253 yards and three touchdowns in the 52-17 win over Nebraska.

But it's close. Colt McCoy deserves it right now and it would likely be a coin flip between Daniel and Sam Bradford for this spot, but Daniel is the 2007 finalist who's having an even better year. Fourth in the nation in total offense and fifth in passing efficiency, he's been razor-sharp as the conductor of the nation's No. 3 offense. He threw an interception against Illinois in the season opener and hasn't thrown a pick since. His number are only telling part of the story. If he leads the Tigers to a spot in the BCS title game, he'll be the odds-on favorite to win the prize.