By Casey Keefe
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This season’s Heisman race was an all-out roller coaster ride.
Back in early September, Andrew Luck was considered the heavy favorite—but the trophy is won on the field. As we entered the stretch run of the regular season we started to see the competition separate itself. As for the golden boy Luck, I have no doubts he’ll be an excellent quarterback at the pro level—but at the end of the day he did not do enough to deserve to the trophy.
My final rankings are as follows:
1. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor: (3,998 pass yards, 36 TD’s, 6 INT’s, 72.4%, 644 rush yards, 9 TD’s)
No one deserves the trophy more than RG3. He leads a team that is nowhere near as talented as the rest of the teams my other four finalists represent—but his outstanding play catapulted the Bears to a surprisingly impressive record of 9-3. Griffin has been a big name for a few years now, but it wasn’t until this season that RG3 took his game to an elite level. Considering the talent that surrounds him, the numbers he’s consistently put up through the air and on the ground are simply amazing. Usually I’m hesitant to award the trophy to someone who plays for a team that lost more than 2 games, but after taking into account all the factors it was clear to me that RG3 was the most dominant and deserving of all the candidates.
2. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama: (1,583 yards, 23 Total TD’s, 6 ypc)
If RG3 put up a stinker against Texas last Saturday I may have ended up giving the trophy to Richardson. His numbers are not earth-shattering, but you can’t go by just numbers with a guy like Richardson. You have to watch his games and focus in on him. Without him, the Tide wouldn’t be playing in the national championship game. With the young A.J. McCarron at quarterback, so much responsibility is placed on the shoulders of Richardson. To face the type of competition he did on a weekly basis and be able to perform at the level he did, it’s simply outstanding.
3. Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin: (1,759 yards, 38 Total TD’s, 6.4 ypc)
In many other years, Ball might have been a runaway winner. His 38 touchdowns are just one shy of Barry Sanders’ all-time record. He (like Richardson) had the benefit of playing behind a dominant offensive line, but there’s only so much the big fellas can do up front. Many think that Ball is just a goal line glory hog—but he’s much more than that. He got himself into great shape in the offseason and turned himself into a complete running back. Even though he won’t win the Heisman, 38 touchdowns and a Rose Bowl berth are things you’ll remember forever.
4. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford: (3,170 yards, 37 Total TD’s, 9 INT’s, 70%)
Luck didn’t have quite the season that many expected. But people have to keep in mind that Luck doesn’t have all-world talent surrounding him. He doesn’t have a single “deep-threat” receiver. All of his weapons are tight ends and possession receivers. If you step away for a second and forget the lofty expectations that were put on Luck’s shoulders you’ll realize that the kid really did have a terrific season. The numbers he put up are no joke. But unfortunately, he didn’t exactly shine in his biggest game of the season against Oregon.
5. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon: (1,646 yards, 18 Total TD’s, 7.4 ypc)
Sometimes it feels like I’m the only one who gives James credit. No, he doesn’t deserve the trophy, but he showed a lot of toughness this year playing through injuries and still putting the Ducks on his back. I think some people are too quick to credit his success to Chip Kelly’s unique system—but the fact is James is a great running back. He might have the best field vision in the country. 1,646 yards and 18 touchdowns in limited action is excellent, but his 7.4 yards per carry mark speaks for itself. I don’t care how good your offensive line is or how genius your system is—you don’t average 7.4 yards a pop unless you’re damn good.
In closing, I would like to express my happiness and approval with the BCS computers. Like everyone else, I would love to see a playoff system in college football. There are numerous times when the BCS computers make you want to pull your hair out—but this year they got it right… especially with the title game. I know some people disagree with the Alabama-LSU rematch, but you have to keep in mind that the whole point of the BCS title game is to have the two best teams in the nation playing against each other. That’s exactly what we have with Alabama-LSU.
I feel bad for Oklahoma State getting shut out. They have an impressive resume and were undoubtedly the third best team in the nation—but they blew their chance at a title spot when they decided to lose to a mediocre Iowa State team…
There isn’t a team in the land (Oklahoma State included) that would hang within 10 points of either Alabama or LSU. When the two met earlier in the season it was an epic affair. College football at its finest. We should all feel fortunate we get to see the two meet up again—this time with everything on the line.
Follow Casey Keefe on Twitter: @CaseyKeefeWFAN
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