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Alabama's star RB leads Heisman race, but contenders close in

The play of the weekend -- and perhaps the play of the year, so far -- was undoubtedly the game-saving blocked field goal by Alabama's 6-foot-5, 365-pound Terrence "Mount" Cody. The block, one of two he had on the day, preserved a 12-10 Tide victory and, predictably, raised the question of whether he should be a Heisman contender.

In the opinion of The Watch, the answer is no. The main argument for Cody is that he's a force up front, whose job is to occupy multiple blockers so that others can make the tackles and, therefore, his numbers can't quantify his value. While I agree with the stats argument, it's not as if Cody is the only interior defensive lineman to ever get double-teamed. Take Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, for instance. Suh also faces constant double-teams on the inside, but on the season, there is no competition between the two. He has more tackles (44 to 17), tackles for loss (10 to 5), sacks (4 to 0), passes broken up (7 to 1), quarterback hurries (12 to 2), interceptions (1 to 0) and forced fumbles (1 to 0) than Cody. Oh, and on Saturday, Suh also blocked two kicks.

With all due respect to Cody, who looks to be the second coming of Gilbert Brown in the NFL, he has much catching up to do if he wants to get into the Heisman race.

Last week: 18 rushes, 99 yards in a 12-10 victory against Tennessee

Season: 153 rushes, 1,004 yards, 8 TDs; 19 receptions, 186 yards, 3 TDs

Heisman-o-meter: This is how good those 99 rushing yards were: This season, Tennessee has allowed only one player -- Auburn's Ben Tate -- to rush for more (128 yards), and he got 25 carries to do it. The next highest amount was 80 yards by UCLA's Johnathan Franklin, and someone you may have heard of, Tim Tebow, ran for 76 on 24 carries. So, while Ingram didn't get loose like he usually does, particularly when he was not in the Wildcat, he had a solid effort. And, yes, I realize his fumble set off a chain of events that nearly lost 'Bama the game, but considering it was his first lost fumble in 322 college touches, this is not a chronic problem. He remains No. 1, but just barely.

Up next: Nov. 7 vs. LSU

Last week: 8 tackles, 6 solo; 1 tackle for loss; 1 sack; 2 blocked kicks; 3 quarterback hurries in a 12-10 loss against Iowa State

Season: 44 tackles, 25 solo; 10 tackles for loss; 4 sacks; 1 interception, 7 passes broken up; 12 quarterback hurries; 1 forced fumble; 2 blocked kicks

Heisman-o-meter: Suh turned in another All-America performance that will probably be overlooked because of his team's ugly loss. But it was because of him that the turnover-happy Huskers stayed in the game. Suh again was a relentless havoc-maker up front, and his sack was the result of not giving up on the play. (Others applied the pressure first, and he cleaned up the mess.) On the block of the extra point, he bulldozed the lineman to get a hand on the ball, but the field-goal block was even better. He hurdled between two linemen, and the kick never had a chance. Any Heisman list that doesn't include the dominant Suh is incomplete.

Up next: Saturday at Baylor

Last week: 11 receptions, 128 yards, 2 TDs; 1 rush, minus-2 yards; 1 punt return, 8 yards in a 20-16 victory against Boston College

Season: 52 receptions, 847 yards, 8 TDs; 15 rushes, 94 yards, 1 TD; 6 punt returns, 47 yards; 3 kickoff returns, 62 yards

Heisman-o-meter: Some have written in, calling The Watch a Notre Dame lover for having two Irish players on the list. Uh, no. You know what The Watch loves? Players who perform week in and week out, which is what Tate has done. On Saturday, he continually found holes in the Eagles' soft-zone coverage. On his first touchdown, he improvised and found an open area so that Jimmy Clausen could find him. (Tate's catch on the previous play was nice, too.) On the second touchdown, Tate hauled in a perfectly placed ball from Clausen on the left sideline, then cut inside to avoid a half-hearted tackle "attempt" by a BC defender for the winning score. As for Tate's chances of winning the stiff-armed statuette, he must overcome a lot of obstacles (such as anti-receiver bias), and he's not helped by having another Heisman contender throwing him the ball. But in this strange Heisman season, who knows?

Up next: Saturday vs. Washington State in San Antonio

Last week: 14 rushes, 81 yards; 6 receptions, 104 yards, 1 TD; 3 kickoff returns, 125 yards, 1 TD in a 40-37 overtime victory at No. 10 Miami

Season: 108 rushes, 547 yards, 3 TDs; 18 receptions, 267 yards, 2 TDs; 5 punt returns, 182 yards, 1 TD; 12 kickoff returns, 459 yards, 3 TDs; 0-of-1 passing

Heisman-o-meter: Spiller was on the list for two weeks earlier in the season, and he returns after a dynamic all-around performance that helped knock off the Hurricanes. All game he showed off his gamebreaking speed -- on a first-quarter catch out of the backfield, on the 90-yard kickoff return (he went untouched), on a long TD reception in the third quarter and on a long run in the fourth quarter that set up Clemson on Miami's 15-yard line. His 310 all-purpose yards set a new Tigers record. Amazingly, Spiller has a play of at least 60 yards in each of Clemson's seven games. He is 2005 Reggie Bush Lite, without the hype.

Up next: Saturday vs. Coastal Carolina

Last week: 23 rushes, 178 yards, 1 TD; 1 reception, 13 yards in a 28-24 victory against Connecticut

Season: 137 rushes, 912 yards, 10 TDs; 13 receptions, 105 yards, 1 TD; 3 kickoff returns, 53 yards

Heisman-o-meter: Nine rushes, seven yards. That's what Devine had at halftime against the Huskies. Then his crazy legs went wild in the second half (after an adjustment in play calling to run the ball to the tight end side). He gained most of his yards on two plays. On the first, a 62-yarder that put the Mountaineers on the UConn 1, Devine took a handoff, saw no hole, stopped, cut back to the left and raced down the sideline until being knocked out of bounds. On the second he ran down the right sideline and somehow stayed inbounds for a 56-yard score that ended up being the game-winner. With games remaining against Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, Devine still has a chance to make some Heisman noise.

Up next: Friday at South Florida

Last week: 26-of-39 passing, 246 yards, 2 TDs; 6 rushes, 1 yard in a 20-16 victory against Boston College

Season: 150-of-230 passing, 2,050 yards, 16 TDs, 2 INTs; 38 rushes, minus-48 yards, 1 TD

Heisman-o-meter: Clausen didn't have a huge statistical day because he kept throwing underneath against an Eagles defense determined to not allow the big play. Nonetheless, he did show off his rocket arm when, rolling left on one play, he fired a rocket to Tate. And he displayed a nice touch on the second touchdown pass, which was just over the outstretched arms of a defender. (Clausen however did cost the Irish two points when, while being hurried by a rusher in the end zone, he could not get the ball to the line of scrimmage, resulting in an intentional grounding penalty and a safety.) I still am having trouble grasping the idea of voting for a quarterback who has not beaten one ranked opponent all season, but to his credit Clausen has four come-from-behind wins in the fourth quarter this year.

Up next: Saturday vs. Washington State in San Antonio

Last week: Idle

Season: 140 rushes, 834 yards, 10 TDs; 9 receptions, 165 yards, 1 TD; 1 punt return, 0 yards

Heisman-o-meter: If you haven't seen Williams run yet, you'll get your chance Thursday night. This electric back has the Hokies' coaching staff throwing out words like "special" and comparing him favorably with former Tech ball-carrying studs Kevin Jones and Lee Suggs. A freshman winning the Heisman may be a long shot, but Williams' play in the first half of the season has been deserving of consideration.

Up next: Thursday vs. North Carolina

Last week: 25-of-36 passing, 233 yards, 1 TD; 7 rushes, minus-12 yards in a 38-15 victory against SMU

Season: 241-of-344 passing, 2,734 yards, 20 TDs, 4 INTs; 30 rushes, 64 yards, 3 TDs

Heisman-o-meter: This wasn't your typical Keenum effort. SMU defended the pass well, so the Cougars relied more on the run (37 rushing attempts). The usually accurate Keenum also overthrew an open Tyron Carrier for what would have been Houston's third touchdown. But on the next drive he hit PatrickEdwards with a perfectly placed ball on a slant pattern to extend his school record of consecutive games with a touchdown pass to 23. His best play however didn't even make the final stats. Early in the fourth quarter, Keenum was chased out of the pocket to the right sideline, saw three SMU defenders, reversed field, slipped a tackle and found an open Edwards downfield for a long gain. Alas, the play was nullified due to a clipping penalty.

Up next: Saturday vs. Southern Miss

Last week: 12-of-22 passing, 127 yards, 2 INTs; 22 rushes, 88 yards, 1 TD in a 29-19 victory at Mississippi State

Season: 84-of-132 passing, 1,159 yards, 8 TDs, 4 INTs; 121 rushes, 466 yards, 6 TDs

Heisman-o-meter: The Watch can't remember Tebow playing a worse game in his college career. Though he did tie Herschel Walker atop the SEC's touchdown list (49 scores) with a nice scoring run, Tebow's two interceptions, which were returned for touchdowns, will be what everyone remembers. And while those were two ugly picks, let's not forget that he was pressured on both throws. As has been the case for much of the season, Tebow was hurried much of the night and was sacked three times. After the game he, for the first time, chose not to speak to media, which put an exclamation point on a very un-Tebow-like night.

Up next: Saturday vs. Georgia in Jacksonville

Last week: 25 rushes, 157 yards, 1 TDs; 1 reception, 27 yards in a 34-3 victory at New Mexico State

Season: 156 rushes, 1,131 yards, 9 TDs; 5 receptions, 68 yards; 0-of-1 passing

Heisman-o-meter: The nation's leading rusher was largely being held in check by New Mexico State until, just into the fourth quarter, he took a handoff, got a great block by a pulling teammate, hurdled over another blocker and ran untouched for a 68-yard score. The run was his seventh of 50 yards or more this season, and was his last touch on the night. (He lost a fumble on a call that replays seemed to indicate was questionable.) Pittsburgh's Dion Lewis, Boise State's Kellen Moore and Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers are just three players who have strong cases to be included on the list as well.

Up next: Saturday vs. Utah State

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