Oregon fans had long viewed the team's Week 10 meeting with USC as a statement game, an ideal stage on which to prove the Ducks' offense warrants the hype.
Kenjon Barner got the memo.
After weeks of lurking just outside the inner-circle of Heisman candidates, Barner burst onto the Watchman's rankings with an offensive performance for the ages against the Trojans. The senior rushed for a school-record 321 yards and was responsible for five of the Ducks' nine touchdowns, while Oregon's 730 yards of offense were the most given up by USC in the program's 124-year history.
Barner has reason to be encouraged by Heisman history. Though quarterbacks have largely dominated the Heisman vote in recent years, winning all but one trophy since 2000, Barner's current season compares favorably to Alabama's Mark Ingram's, the only running back to receive the award during that span (Reggie Bush's 2005 award was vacated). Through nine games Barner's 19 touchdowns and 7.2 yards per carry best Ingram's 2009 marks of 17 and 6.1. Moreover, Barner needs only 364 yards to surpass Ingram's 1,658 total rushing yards.
The catch: Ingram's Crimson Tide finished the 2009 season unbeaten and won the BCS title. But as the motor behind Oregon's seemingly unstoppable offense, Barner may have the Ducks heading down a similar path.
Before moving on to this week's rankings, here's a reminder of
Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel, Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater and Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez missed the rankings this week.
For the third straight week, the Heisman continues to be Klein's award to lose ... at least according to SI's ballots. He appeared on eight of nine SI ballots, earning the first-place vote on all of those eight. Te'o maintained his second-place spot, but he's now sharing it with Barner, whose career day lifted him from out of the poll to six votes. The only newcomer this week is USC wideout Marqise Lee, whose big outing against Oregon was overshadowed by Barner's record day.
USC couldn't stop Barner, who rushed for five touchdowns in the Ducks' record-setting win. (Landov)
Alabama's McCarron finds Yeldon for the game-winning touchdown against LSU to deflate the rowdy crowd at Death Valley:
It looks like Barner has earned his former teammate's vote: