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In the clear


The ballot if the season ended today:

Last week: 18-of-26, 256 yards, 4 TDs; 20 rushes, 78 yards, 1 TD in a 45-37 victory at No. 8 Kentucky

Season: 115-of-174 for 1,711 yards passing, 17 TDs, 3 INTs; 125 rushes, 578 yards, 10 TDs

Heisman-o-meter: He looked like a winner on Saturday, hitting the deep ball, overpowering tacklers (it took four Wildcats to bring him down near the goal line on one play), controlling the game, etc. There¹s room on the Tebow-for-Heisman bandwagon, but a note to those who jump on: He¹s been this brilliant all season, not just the last week. Now, one must wonder how his bruised right shoulder will affect how many times he totes the ball and how he attacks, or doesn¹t, tacklers. A solid No. 1.

Up next: Saturday vs. Georgia

Last week: Did not play in a 27-17 victory at Illinois

Season: 200 rushes, 1,078 yards, 12 TDs; 7 receptions, 43 yards

Heisman-o-meter: Just like the theory that says a starter should not lose his job due to injury, I believe that a player should not lose his status on this list because he sits out a game to an injury. So, Hart stays at No. 2. It must have been a pretty bad ankle injury to keep this gutty back from playing against the Illini, so I¹m curious to see how that ankle looks on Saturday. As of Monday, he¹s expected to play.

Up next: Saturday vs. Minnesota

Last week: Idle

Season: 192-of-304 for 2,148 yards passing, 17 TDs, 6 INTs; 20 rushes, 38 yards, 1 TD; 1 reception, 1 yard

Heisman-o-meter: I was shocked to see Ryan jump to the top of more than one Heisman list last week after his game against Notre Dame. His 291-yard, two-touchdown, one-interception effort wasn¹t close to being his best this season. But my guess is that voters, all of whom have NBC at home I presume, finally got to see what makes Ryan such a delicious candidate: the big arm, the poise in the pocket, the ability to stretch the field, etc. The Heisman could very well be won, or lost, when Ryan faces a Virginia Tech defense that ranks 13th in the nation.

Up next: Thursday at No. 8 Virginia Tech

Last week: 22 rushes, 110 yards; 2 receptions, 10 yards in a 44-8 victory at Mississippi

Season: 169 rushes, 932 yards, 7 TDs; 10 receptions, 71 yards; 5 kickoff returns, 122 yards; 1-of-2 passing, 42 yards, 1 TD

Heisman-o-meter: Last week, he was stuffed by Auburn. On Saturday, he was merely good against the Rebels. (Felix Jones arguably outplayed him again.) It¹s amazing that he¹s still ranked seventh in the nation in rushing even though he has maybe one extraordinary effort (195 rushing yards, two touchdowns against Alabama). With each week, as others on this list outperform him, it gets harder to keep sticking with the preseason favorite.

Up next: Saturday vs. Florida International

Last week: 19-of-30, 196 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 12 rushes, 99 yards, 1 TD in a 55-34 victory at Washington

Season: 138-of-199 for 1,728 yards passing, 16 TDs, 3 INTs; 75 rushes, 416 yards, 7 TDs

Heisman-o-meter: He, Jonathan Stewart and the ruthless Oregon offensive line made it look easy while killing Washington with the option. What makes the performance even more impressive was that it seemed as if the Ducks ran the same three or four plays and Washington still couldn¹t stop them. Dixon¹s passing wasn¹t always sharp, but he was elusive in the open field, and he has a great opportunity to move up this list with a marquee game against the Trojans.

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Up next: Saturday vs. No. 9 USC

Last week: 35-of-50, 415 yards, 5 TDs; 8 rushes, minus-38 yards in a 45-37 loss against No. 14 Florida

Season: 191-of-295 passing, 2,201 yards, 26 TDs, 4 INTs; 35 rushes, minus-123 yards, 3 TDs

Heisman-o-meter: There were two main reasons behind my keeping Woodson off the list the last two weeks. First, I didn¹t believe that he was as big a catalyst for his offense than the players on the list were for theirs. He pretty much disproved that against the Gators in an effort that was better than the week before when he threw two interceptions against LSU. Now he just has to maintain that momentum. Second, I just couldn¹t get the scenes from Woodson¹s South Carolina meltdown out of my head. And I still can¹t. The Gamecocks really made him look silly, a quality you don¹t see on winning Heisman résumés.

Up next: Saturday vs. Mississippi State

Last week: 32 rushes, 251 yards, 2 TDs; 3 receptions, 20 yards; 1 kickoff return, 34 yards in a 55-34 victory at Washington

Season: 131 rushes, 940 yards, 7 TDs; 12 receptions, 51 yards; 13 kickoff returns, 388 yards

Heisman-o-meter: Stewart returns to the list after gashing the Huskies for big chunks of yardage almost every time he touched the ball. At 5¹11" and 230 pounds, it¹s impressive that he still has enough quickness to get to the edge. This big back has been terrific all season, but just as I said last week with Texas Tech¹s Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree, I think the quarterback is the catalyst in this offense. At least in my opinion, the threat of Dixon running makes Stewart that much better, not the other way around.

Up next: Saturday vs. No. 9 USC

Last week: 39 rushes, 181 yards in a 30-27 victory against No. 2 South Florida

Season: 204 rushes, 999 yards, 13 TDs; 17 receptions, 175 yards, 1 TD

Heisman-o-meter: Welcome back, Ray. After a brief time off the list, Rice is back, thanks to a display of power running against the second-ranked Bulls. How about that nasty stiff arm on defensive end George Selvie? To have any chance of reaching New York, Rice must excel on Saturday against two other preseason Heisman candidates: Pat White and Steve Slaton.

Up next: Saturday vs. No. 6 West Virginia

Last week: 14-of-19 passing, 210 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 7 rushes, 11 yards in a 41-10 victory against No. 22 Texas Tech

Season: 200-of-289 for 2,283 yards passing, 17 TDs, 7 INTs; 59 rushes, 198 yards, 3 TDs

Heisman-o-meter: The Red Raiders¹ defense schemed against the pass so the Tigers kept the ball almost exclusively on the ground, running 50 times. It worked. Missouri rang up 210 yards on the ground and won, so Daniel should not be penalized for the change in the game plan.

Up next: Saturday vs. Iowa State

Last week: 44-of-69, 397 yards, 1 TD, 4 INTs; 5 rushes, minus-39 yards in a 41-10 loss at No. 15 Missouri

Season: 302-of-416 for 3,548 yards passing, 32 TDs, 7 INTs; 24 rushes, minus-70 yards, 3 TDs

Heisman-o-meter: I was waiting for Texas Tech to play a legitimate defense in order to get a read on Harrell, but I never thought it would be Missouri¹s. The Tigers applied constant pressure on this passing madman and intercepted him four times, two on tipped balls. Anyone can have a bad game, but after this effort, it¹s easy to be skeptical over the lotterylike numbers Harrell had been putting up this season.

Up next: Saturday vs. Colorado