Non-AQ stars Keenum, Moore could break through in Heisman race
One seems to rewrite history every week, the other is all but certain to make it days from now.
Houston's Case Keenum and Boise State's Kellen Moore figure to keep the NCAA publications staff busy when they update the FBS record book -- but how much weight will their benchmark seasons carry in the Heisman Trophy race?
If the past can teach us anything, it's that the major records Keenum owns, and the one Moore will soon possess, have offered little advantage since they began handing out the award in 1935.
In the last two weeks, Keenum has set the marks for career TD passes and total offense, shattering the records held by Graham Harrell and Timmy Chang, respectively, and he has another in sight, sitting 267 from knocking off Chang as the passing yardage king.
Nine players have ended their careers with the touchdown mark, producing zero winners and a top finish of third shared by Colt Brennan in 2007, Ty Detmer in 1991 and Jim McMahon in '81. The total offense record has changed hands 14 times and while three of those players have won, you have to go back 27 years, to find the last occurrence with Doug Flutie in '84.
Moore will make his first attempt at knocking off Colt McCoy as the winningest quarterback in NCAA history as he eyes his 46th career victory against 1-5 UNLV. That record has been broken six times, with Peyton Manning, coming closest to the trophy with a second-place finish in '97, while McCoy was third in '09.
What does it all mean for Keenum and Moore? The past tells us the path is difficult enough for non-AQ stars -- no player from outside the major conferences has won in 21 years and no one has finished higher than third since '92 -- and the perception of career achievements in voting, and these records in particular, could mean everything. But what happens if Moore gets Boise State into the BCS title game or Keenum somehow puts the Cougars in a top-tier bowl? Will a spot in NCAA history then be a boon for their resumes? It could prove to be an interesting test of the perceptions of non-AQ players and records in voters' minds.
Before we unveil this week's rankings, where Andrew Luck puts some distance between him and field (for now) in a triple-OT thriller, here's a
The pick-six could have proved fatal. Luck's Heisman chances would have suffered their first blow -- along with Stanford's BCS title hopes -- as USC took a late lead off Nickell Robey's touchdown. Instead Luck responded with a defining performance as he coolly led the Cardinal to a game-tying TD, then carried them to three more scores in overtime to win a highly anticipated duel with Matt Barkley and extend the Cardinal's FBS-best winning streak to 16 games. Here's an interesting stat: Since the Trojans began playing in 1888, they have allowed more than 53 points twice, both against Luck and Stanford.
As if there wasn't enough riding on the No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown between LSU and Alabama in Tuscaloosa, what with all the BCS and SEC title implications, it's also an opportunity for Richardson to wrestle the lead away from Luck in this race. Of course, that's easier said than done against a Tigers defense that's giving up 76.6 yards per game on the ground (fourth nationally) and hasn't allowed a back to get more than 70 yards so far this season, but it's that degree of difficultly involved that could see it pay off big for Richardson.
Moore's efficiency has long been his calling card and fittingly it's part of his chase of McCoy's wins record. It took the former Texas quarterback 50 games in order to pass Greene's previous record of 42 career wins, while Moore will likely pass McCoy in just his 48th start. While that record carries the most cachet, it isn't the only one of McCoy's marks that Moore is chasing. So far, he's completed 75.9 percent of his passes, putting him in position to break the single-season record of 76.7 McCoy set in '08.
How does Jones stack up against his predecessor, Sam Bradford, in his Heisman-winning season of '08? Through eight games, Jones has 319 more yards and two more 400-yard games with four, and while Bradford had three more TDs and four fewer interceptions, Jones has 85 more attempts and a comparable completion percentage, 66.4 for Jones; 67.7 for Bradford. They both also suffered October losses and responded with monster performances the following week against Sunflower State schools. Bradford threw a Sooners' best 468 yards against Kansas, while Jones bested that with 505 against K-State.
They came from 57 and 21 yards, 64, 18 and 41, too. There was another from 20, a 37, a 22 and a 47, giving Keenum nine TD passes as he broke Harrell's record and then left it far in his rearview mirror. However, it wasn't the most prolific in Cougars history as Keenum tied David Klingler, who threw nine TDs in a game in 1991 and who holds the FBS mark of 11. As for Keenum's next run at history, it's a strong bet he passes Chang on the yardage list this week as Houston faces 1-7 UAB.
Weeden got the best of Robert Griffin III with a victory, but he didn't fully give his candidacy the boost that this matchup offered him as Griffin had 452 total yards to Weeden's 274. A lot of that had to do with the situation: Griffin threw 50 times to Weeden's 36 with the Bears playing from behind and the fact that the Cowboys' backs piled up 327 yards and five TDs on 27 carries. Weeden could put up big numbers against Kansas State, which is 103rd in pass defense.
For the second straight week, Wilson pulled off some late-game heroics and for the second straight week he could only watch as the opposing quarterback one-upped him with a game-winning score in the closing seconds. Against Ohio State, Wilson completed a season-low 62.5 percent of his passes, but it's hard to fault him for this one as the senior had his fourth three-TD day and moved within two TD passes of John Stocco's Badgers mark of 21 set in '05. But another loss dropped Wisconsin further back in the Big Ten race, and it delivered another blow to Russellmania.
RGIII's 425 passing yards were just five shy of the career high he had set the previous week, and he broke his own Baylor mark with 452 total yards of offense. Despite another big statistical day, Griffin couldn't put the Bears on the scoreboard on five straight drives deep into Cowboys' territory in the first half, and Baylor didn't find the end zone until the first play of the fourth quarter. It was Griffin and Co.'s third loss in four games and they still have three ranked opponents remaining on the schedule in Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Texas.
Clemson's chances at a BCS title, and ultimately a Heisman campaign that was building steam fell, apart on Saturday with a loss to the Yellow Jackets. After accounting for 10 TDs and just one pick over the previous two games, Boyd had more turnovers (two) than scores (one) for the first time this season. Aside from the third quarter, when he had 179 of his 295 passing yards, he failed to do much damage against the ACC's top-rated pass defense.
The nation's leading rusher? It's not Richardson, LaMichael James or even Denard Robinson. It's Wilson, who rattled off his sixth straight 100-yard game as the Hokies eked out a win over Duke. Wilson is on pace to break the Virginia Tech single-season rushing mark of 1,655 yards Ryan Williams set in 2009. A run at the Heisman is unlikely at this point, but Wilson had been among the nation's most consistent and underrated performers. He can open some eyes on Nov. 10 with a primetime matchup against Georgia Tech.