Another week, another top running back out with a season-ending injury. Last week, South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore saw his Heisman hopes crushed when he suffered torn ligaments in his knee. This week, Pitt’s Ray Graham sustained a knee injury that will require season-ending surgery.
Pitt's Ray Graham, the Big East's leading rusher, will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.
Graham, the Big East’s leading rusher, came out of nowhere this year to become the Big East’s leading rusher, as well as one of the top backs in the country. Currently, he’s fourth in rushing yards, but his season will end with 164 carries for 958 yards and 9 touchdowns.
Graham wasn’t the only Heisman hopeful to find himself out of the running this week.
Oklahoma’s top two candidates, Landry Jones and Ryan Broyles, are, for all intents and purposes, out of the race. It was unlikely either would win anyway, but before last week’s loss to Texas Tech, they were at least in the conversation. Now, the odds of either making it to New York are on par with OU’s chances of making it to New Orleans for the BCS title game. It’s not impossible, but they’ll have to be really, really good from here on out, and someone else will have to suddenly fall out of contention.
In the Sooners’ shocking loss at home to the Red Raiders last weekend, Jones was 30 of 55 with five touchdowns, but he posted his lowest completion percentage of the season, just 54.5%. If Jones had been able to bring OU back from a 17-7 deficit at halftime, which he almost did, he’d have a better shot, but since he wasn’t a leading candidate to begin with, it’s unlikely he’ll be among the top three at the end of the year.
One week after setting a new NCAA record for career receptions, Broyles was third in receiving yards for the Sooners against Texas Tech, behind Kenny Stills, who had 8 catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns, and sophomore Jaz Reynolds.
Another name that’s more than likely dropped off the list is Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson. He was the trendy choice after transferring from NC State and leading the Badgers to a 6-0 start, but as with Landry Jones, Wilson’s inability to pull off the win over Michigan State hurt his chances at winning the Heisman. He was 14 of 21 for 223 yards, but his two touchdown, two interception performance wasn’t quite Heisman-worthy.
Neither was Heisman favorite Andrew Luck’s, but Stanford won big over Washington, 65-21, so the Stanford QB is still very much at the top of the short list for the award. The Cardinal put a lot of points up on the Huskies, but Luck only accounted for 14 of them, as he threw just 21 passes (hitting 76% of them) for two touchdowns and continued his efficient but not mind-boggling march toward the Heisman Awards ceremony.
A far more exciting quarterback to watch was Clemson’s Tajh Boyd. He hasn’t gotten much attention as far as the Heisman goes, but he’s one of the key members of a Clemson offense that has been surprisingly dynamic. Boyd’s completion percentage is nothing to brag about at just 61.9%, but the rest of the stat line is pretty darn good: 24 touchdowns and just 3 interceptions, while taking a much higher number of sacks (15) than many of the other top quarterbacks.
One of Boyd’s favorite targets, freshman Sammy Watkins, is another player to keep an eye on. Though he took a backseat to DeAndre Hopkins last week against North Carolina, Watkins is firmly entrenched as the team’s leading receiver, with 54 receptions for 819 yards, and as long as the Tigers keep rolling, their star players will continue to be in the mix for the most coveted award in college football.