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Oregon RB James climbs Watch list after Heisman-like showing

Flipping between telecasts of Florida-Alabama and Oregon-Stanford, it almost seemed as if Mark Ingram and LaMichael James were squaring off in a Heisman running back showdown. But any keen observer -- and anyone who merely checked the boxscore -- could see it wasn't even close.

Ingram ran 12 times, had 47 yards and scored two short TDs in the Crimson Tide's victory over the seventh-ranked Gators, while James had 31 carries for a career-high 257 yards and three scores in the Ducks' win over No. 9 Stanford. James claimed the spotlight on one of the biggest stages of the season by torching a Cardinal defense that had given up 113 yards per game on the ground for his second 200-yard game of the year, pushing him to second in the nation with 712 total yards (Michigan's Denard Robinson is tops with 905 yards).

But was James' performance enough to move him past the reigning Heisman winner?

Ingram only had 15 touches against the Gators, but that stat is a bit misleading: He only saw the ball six times after he scored his second touchdown in 'Bama's rout, and let's not forget that he had posted back-to-back 150-yard games the previous two weeks.

But what separates James and Ingram at this point in the season is Alabama's offense. The Tide are relying on the pass more than in 2009, and while backfield mate Trent Richardson has helped keep Ingram fresh, he's also commanding carries (25 in three games) since Ingram's return.

While Ducks QB Darron Thomas has been a running threat in the zone, James has been a workhorse with 59 carries over the last two weeks. Over the season, James has tallied eight runs of 20 or more yards while Ingram has only recorded four.

And it's for those reasons that James has -- for this week -- passed Ingram as the lead runner in the Heisman Watch.

Before the Watchman unveils this week's top 10 Heisman candidates, here's a look back at the rankings after Week 4.

Last Week: 10-of-16 passing for 277 yards and three TDs; 19 rushes for 217 yards and two TDs in 42-35 win over Indiana

Season: 67-of-96 passing for 1,008 yards, seven TDs and one INT; 98 rushes for 905 yards and eight TDs; one punt for 30 yards

In racking up 494 yards against the Hoosiers, Robinson became the first player in FBS history with two games with 200 yards passing and 200 yards rushing in the regular season -- and he's done it in a span of four weeks. But Shoelace's candidacy is about to be put to the test as the Wolverines begin a grueling three-game stretch against Michigan State, Iowa and Penn State -- the first of which owns a defense that put a halt to John Clay's 100-yard game streak.

Up Next: Saturday vs. Michigan State

Last Week: 31 carries for 257 yards and three TDs in Oregon's 52-31 win over Stanford

Season: 89 carries for 712 yards and seven TDs; one reception for nine yards

How's this for an exclamation point? To ice the Ducks' win over Stanford, James tore off a 76-yard touchdown run -- one of his 16 carries in the game's final 20:39 -- to bump his average to 178 yards per game. But if you think those numbers are gaudy, just wait until he faces a Washington State defense that ranks 117th against the run and gives up more than 250 yards per game.

Next Up: Saturday at Washington State

Last Week: 13-of-18 for 196 yards and three TDs in Boise's 59-0 win over New Mexico State

Season: 75-of-113 passing for 1,069 yards, 11 TDs and one INT; six rushes for minus-21 yards

Just like his team's standing in the AP poll, this Bronco was passed by Oregon. In Moore's defense there wasn't much more he could have done to improve his standing against the winless Aggies, who Boise outscored 208-7 in their last four meetings. The junior was pulled five minutes into the third quarter after throwing his third TD pass. He improved to 30-1 as a starter.

Next Up: Saturday vs. Toledo

Last Week: 9-of-16 passing for 76 yards, two TDs and one INT; 11 rushes for 104 yards in 24-13 win over Illinois

Season: 80-of-123 passing for 1,015 yards, 12 TDs and three INTs; 54 rushes for 373 yards and three TDs; one reception for 20 yards and one TD

Though he reached 100 yards rushing in a game for this sixth time in his career, Pryor headed to the locker room early with a strained quadriceps. He returned, but his limited abilities were instantly felt by the Buckeyes; he led the clinching drives, but he accounted for 30 total yards as OSU went with Dan Herron and Brandon Saine on 19 of 25 plays. Ohio State survived, but it remains to be seen whether Pryor's injury be a lingering issue.

Next Up: Saturday vs. Indiana

Last Week: 12 rushes for 47 yards and two TDs; three receptions for 19 yards in 31-6 win over Florida

Season: 45 rushes for 355 yards and 6 TDs; five receptions for 46 yards

He hit the end zone twice against Florida, but he wasn't asked to shoulder much of a load as his 12 carries were the fewest in his last 11 SEC games. The performance won't hurt his Trophy candidacy, but considering he's already missed two games and he's being held to a higher standard as a returning Heisman winner, Saturday's showing didn't help his chances.

Next Up: Saturday at South Carolina

Last Week: 14-of-19 passing for 245 yards, three TDs and one INT; one rush for minus-11 yards in 52-3 win over Louisiana-Monroe

Season: 57-of-87 passing for 928 yards, 12 TDs and four INTs; 76 rushes for 474 yards and five TDs; one reception for 22 yards; one punt for 22 yards

After Newton ran 75 times during the first four games, head coach Gene Chizik and offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn opted to give their QB's body a rest. They didn't ask Newton to run once (his lone rushing stat was a sack) in the blowout win over Louisiana-Monroe. Instead, they had Newton to rely on his arm, something he'll certainly be asked to do in SEC play, as he passed for three TDs before sitting out most of the second half.

Next Up: Saturday at Kentucky

Last Week: 29-of-46 for 341 yards, two TDs and two INTs; eight rushes for 39 yards and one TD in 52-31 loss to Oregon

Season: 93-of-148 passing for 13 TDs and four INTs; 25 rushes for 202 yards and two TDs; one reception for 11 yards

Though Luck and the Cardinal managed to do fine without Toby Gerhart in the backfield in their first four victories, they ran into problems against the Ducks. Without a real threat in the backfield the play-action wasn't effective and the pressure was on Luck. He passed for a season-high 341 yards but also threw two picks, giving him four on the year to equal his 2009 total.

Next Up: Saturday vs. USC

Last Week: Idle

Season: 95-of-138 passing for 1,438 yards, 10 TDs and five INTs; 14 rushes for minus-10 yards and two TDs; one punt for 43 yards

Mallett got a weekend off, but he still ranks as the SEC leader in passing and total offense and third nationally in the latter. While he failed to capitalize on a showcase game against Alabama his last time out, he'll have another chance in two weeks against Auburn. That is, so long as he doesn't suffer another setback against Texas A&M and its 14th-ranked defense.

Next Up: Saturday vs. Texas A&M at Cowboys Stadium

Last Week: Four tackles; three punt returns for 30 yards, three kickoff returns for 64 yards in 16-14 win over Tennessee

Season: 15 tackles, four interceptions, two passes broke up and four passes defended; 12 punt returns for 283 yards and two TDs, nine kickoff returns for 254 yards

The Tigers are the most confounding 5-0 team in the land, but don't hold that against Peterson; he's the most dominant player on their sixth-ranked defense, as well as a dangerous return man. However, he was held back by the Volunteers, who rank 100th in punt-return defense, with 30 yards on three attempts. Les Miles said Peterson has been practicing on offense, but will we finally see it against Florida?

Next Up: Saturday at Florida

Last Week: 13-of-17 passing for 124 yards, one TD and one INT; 13 rushes for 97 yards and one TD in 44-26 win over UNLV

Season: 86-of-123 passing for 1,048 yards, seven TDs and two INTs; 69 rushes for 548 yards and nine TDs

Moore isn't the only worthy candidate in the WAC. The triggerman of Chris Ault's pistol offense has always been able to run, but what makes him so intriguing is his improved passing game. He's completing a career-best 69.9 percent of his passes and is on pace to join former Missouri QB Brad Smith as the only players with 8,000 yards passing and 4,000 yards rushing.

Next Up: Saturday vs. San Jose State

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