September 22, 2010

Heisman Watch: Mallett makes a move

The awards watch
A weekly look at the top three candidates for some key postseason awards:
Outland (best interior lineman)
Butkus (most outstanding linebacker)
Nagurski (most outstanding defensive player)
1. CB Patrick Peterson, LSU
2. DE Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue
3. LB Greg Jones, Michigan State
Thorpe (most outstanding defensive back)
Rimington (most outstanding center)
Biletnikoff (most outstanding wide receiver)
Doak Walker (best running back)
Mackey (top tight end)
1. Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame
2. D.J. Williams, Arkansas
3. Lance Kendricks, Wisconsin
Lou Groza (top kicker)
1. Kai Forbath, UCLA
2. Blair Walsh, Georgia
3. Alex Henery, Nebraska
Ray Guy (top punter)

All Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett needed to join the list of the leading Heisman candidates was a strong performance against a solid opponent.

He got that and more in a 31-24 victory at Georgia.

Mallett was 21-of-33 passing for 380 yards and three touchdowns, and he was at his best in the most pivotal part of the game.

Georgia had scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to forge a 24-24 tie. The Razorbacks didn't want to go into overtime with Georgia having all the momentum, and Mallett made sure that didn't happen.

Arkansas took possession of the football on its 27 with 54 seconds remaining. He hit tight end D.J. Williams on completions of 18 and 15 yards to move the ball to Georgia's 40. Then, he rifled a strike to wide receiver Greg Childs, who broke away from the defense and rambled for the winning score.

"This is a surreal feeling," Mallett said after the game. "This has got to be one of the greatest moments I've felt since I've played the game of football. It so rarely comes down to the wire like this."

Mallett leads the nation at 360.3 passing yards per game. He's fifth in passing efficiency, and only Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden and Stanford's Andrew Luck have thrown more touchdown passes than his nine.

Kansas State running back Daniel Thomas, Oregon running back LaMichael James and Stanford's Luck also enhanced their Heisman candidacies with outstanding showings.

On the other side of the coin, Washington's Jake Locker's Heisman hopes were dashed in a 56-21 loss to Nebraska in which he went just 4-of-20 passing and threw two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.

Here is this week's top four.

1. QB Denard Robinson, Michigan: The Wolverines needed another excellent outing from Robinson to avoid an upset at the hands of FCS member Massachusetts. Robinson passed for 241 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 104 yards and a score in a 42-37 victory. Robinson leads the nation with 559 rushing yards and an average of 410.0 yards in total offense per game.

2. QB Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State: He had his third consecutive game with more than 230 passing yards in a 43-7 rout of Ohio. Pryor threw two touchdown passes and ran 13 yards for another. He even set a school record with 16 consecutive completions.

3. QB Ryan Mallett, Arkansas: Who could ask for more from a quarterback than Mallett delivered against Georgia? He passed for 380 yards and three touchdowns, including a winning 40-yarder in the final seconds.

4. QB Kellen Moore, Boise State: Moore followed up a three-touchdown performance in the season-opening victory over Virginia Tech by passing for 370 yards and two touchdowns in a 51-6 blowout of Wyoming.

Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at olin@rivals.com.



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