August 5, 2008

Bowden: Sorting out Heisman hopefuls

I have said before that winning the Heisman Trophy is more about being the right guy, at the right position, on the right team than it is about being the best player in college football. Every now and then, like last season, this happens to be the same person.

However, since there are 22 positions on a football team and the quarterback and running back are the only two who are going to realistically be considered, this is highly unlikely.

So let's quit with all the niceties and cut to the chase. Tim Tebow is the incumbent on a legitimate national championship contender and is the best college football player in the country. This should garner him more press than anyone else and make him the most likely candidate to repeat.

Unfortunately for Tebow, unless the Gators can win the SEC championship and make it to the national title game, he will not win. The reason, as crazy as this sounds, is that Florida will be even better on offense than they were last year. By being better, I mean being more balanced with other players, especially a running back or two, being able to help carry the load. This will result in there being less of a need to utilize Tebow's extraordinary talents as one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks of all time. So their numbers will go up by allowing his numbers to go down. And, as his numbers go down, so do his chances of winning the Heisman Trophy.

So who is most likely to take home the iron?

Barring any unforeseen injury knock on wood Ohio State's sensational running back, Chris Wells, will win the award this year. He is the best running back in the country, he will put up phenomenal numbers on the season, and the Buckeyes will make it back to the national championship game. ( I guess the cat is out of the bag on that question, too)

Last season, Wells rushed for more than 1,600 yards and has an offense surrounding him that includes 10 returning starters, including four offensive lineman. It would not be unrealistic for him to reach that 2,000-yard mark this season, as coach Jim Tressel loves to win football games by pounding opponents with his running game.

Now, there is a little stumbling block to this scenario. Ohio State must face USC on Sept. 13 in the third game of their season. There are some who would suggest that if the Trojans can shut Wells down and win that game, then his chances of winning the Heisman will be greatly diminished.

First of all, this should be one of the marquee games of the year and defenses might very well dominate the day. I wouldn't be surprised if neither team has a back who gets a 100 yards. Second, as talented as Southern Cal is, they will be the second-most talented team on the field that day, and Ohio State will leave the Coliseum with a hard-fought victory. (Oops, another cat just jumped out of the bag).

Other contenders for the Heisman

Matthew Stafford (QB, Georgia) : This guy will be the No. 1 quarterback taken in the NFL draft and if he can lead his team through one of the toughest schedules in the country and win the SEC title, his chances of winning the Heisman are good.

Pat White (QB, West Virginia) : He is the most exciting quarterback in the country on a potential national championship contender. He won't have to share the limelight with Steve Slaton again this year, either.

Graham Harrell (QB, Texas Tech) : There has to come a point when the numbers become so outrageous that you just have to do something about it. Fifty touchdown passes and 6,000 yards would be hard to ignore.

Chase Daniel (QB, Missouri) : Could happen if the Tigers beat Texas and Kansas during the regular season and beat Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship.

Sam Bradford (QB, Oklahoma), Knowshon Moreno (RB, Georgia), and any other sophomores out there: Contenders, but a sophomore winning won't happen twice in a row.

Finally, I know this article is about the Heisman Trophy, but no matter who wins the USC-Ohio State game, they will be playing again in the national championship game. (Cat number three)

Terry Bowden is Yahoo! Sports' college football analyst. For more information about Terry, visit his official web site. Send Terry a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.



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