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Heisman Trophy – The Race to Claim the Title of College Football’s Premier Player is Heating Up
As conference play approaches, each preseason Heisman hopeful has either lived up to our expectations of them or begun their slow slide into obscurity. The player who emerges as the ultimate winner will depend not only on outstanding individual performances, but also on their team’s ability to consistently win football matches, especially important matches in their schedule. Early season prospects from Ohio Troy Smith and Ted Ginn, Jr., Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson, West Virginia’s Steve Slaton, Florida’s Chris Leake, Auburn’s Kenny Irons, Auburn’s Brady Quinn, Notre Dame’s Brady Quinn, Michael Hart from Michigan and Garrett Wolof from Northern Illinois. name a few.
Let’s take a quick look at how the first three weeks have played out for these top contenders. Many sportswriters have identified Ohio State’s Troy Smith as the 2006 Heisman Trophy winner. Not only does Troy Smith have patience and accuracy from the pocket, but he also has the ability to make a deadly run when he’s hot. This unique ability often leaves opponents wondering exactly how to defend against Bucky’s versatile offense. With Ohio State currently ranked No. 1 in both the Associated Press and USA Today polls, Troy’s focus will remain as the season progresses.
Running backs Adrian Peterson of Oklahoma and Steve Slaton of West Virginia are also making their presence known. Although Oklahoma lost their last game, Adrian Peterson had a respectable day at the office. With 515 yards in three games, he proved himself a worthy candidate for this year’s vote. Incidentally, West Virginia’s Steve Slaton showed us he has all the right moves when he rushed for 195 yards and two touchdowns against Maryland under the spotlight of a nationally televised game. Keep a close eye on both of these backs as they compete for Heisman voting spots in the coming weeks.
If you want to get attention from the reporters and former Heisman Trophy winners who cast their Heisman votes, pull off a spectacular comeback against a key opponent on your home field. Chris Leake did no less than that against rival Tennessee when he pulled off a 10-point comeback to lead Florida to a 21-20 victory over the Volunteers. 199 passing yards and 3 touchdowns on 15 completions in this game Chris Heisman consideration at this point in the season.
Ted Ginn, Jr. and Ohio State’s Kenny Irons of Auburn are the two preseason favorites who have struggled to make big plays to keep them in contention for college player of the year honors. That’s not to say they haven’t made significant contributions to the success of their teams, because they certainly have, but to win the Heisman, you have to blow away the other candidates with standout performances that put you ahead of the pack. So far this season, Ted Ginn, Jr. hasn’t lived up to his reputation as a punt return specialist, and Kenny Irons hasn’t put up the big yards needed to keep up with the other top running backs around. country
Michigan’s Michael Hart has consistently given Michigan fans something to cheer about so far this season. A third straight performance of 100+ yards rushing helped Michigan get off to an enviable start in 2006. If Michigan and Michael Hart continue their winning ways, look for a Heisman final between Hart and Troy Smith on Nov. 18 at Ohio State Stadium.
On the other side of Michigan’s last win was Notre Dame. Brady Quinn’s subpar performance in that loss took some of the steam out of his Heisman run. It will take a much better game from Brady to get back into this year’s tournament. Notre Dame’s strength of schedule alone could set the stage for Brady to play a role player the rest of the season.
If you think a small conference can’t produce a Heisman winner, don’t tell Northern Illinois’ Garrett Wolf. He led the nation in rushing in 2006 and showed signs of greatness even against a stingy Ohio State defense. If Garrett can stay healthy and continue to put up big numbers and outstanding individual performances week after week, he could surprise many other Heisman contenders.
With only three games left in 2006, it’s too early to know who will walk away as this year’s Heisman Trophy winner. Rest assured that each Heisman contender will continue to harbor dreams of hearing his name announced from the hallowed podium in New York City on December 9th. We’re all for great shows! Enjoy the action.
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