For the last two years The Watch has named a Halfway Heisman winner, awarded to the best player in college football through the season's first half. Unlike the real Heisman Trophy presentation however, there will be no trip to New York, no schmaltzy ESPN profiles and no actual trophy. But don't let that diminish the significance of the award; the first two recipients of the Halfway Heisman, Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith and Florida quarterback Tim Tebow,have gone on to be No. 1 on this list at the end of the year and win the real Heisman.
And now the moment that no one has been waiting for. The winner of the Halfway Heisman for 2008 is ...
Last week: 28-of-35 passing, 277 yards, 1 TD; 14 rushes, 31 yards in a 45-35 victory over No. 1 Oklahoma in Dallas.
Season: 131-of-165 passing, 1,557 yards, 17 TDs, 3 INTs; 59 rushes, 348 yards, 4 TDs; 1 punt, 44 yards.
Heisman-o-meter: McCoy's play has been as sweet this season as a pint of Blue Bell on a Texas summer afternoon. On Saturday against the top-ranked Sooners he did what he has done all year -- hit receivers in tight windows, make plays with his feet, move the chains methodically and take care of the ball. Perhaps most impressive on Saturday was his play on third downs in the second half. McCoy completed 4-of-6 passes for 59 yards on those plays (including a patient two-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Shipley in the back of the end zone), extending four drives that led to 22 Texas points. Before this week, the only factor that kept McCoy from not being higher on the list was the lack of a big game against a quality opponent. He now has that -- and the Halfway Heisman.
Up next: Saturday vs. No. 11 Missouri.
Last week: 28-of-39 passing, 387 yards, 5 TDs, 2 INTs; 8 rushes, minus-5 yards in a 45-35 loss to No. 5 Texas in Dallas.
Season: 134-of-185 passing, 2,052 yards, 23 TDs, 5 INTs; 18 rushes, minus-28 yards, 2 TDs.
Heisman-o-meter: Bradford backers, there's no reason to fire off emails claiming that the Sooners quarterback and not McCoy should be No. 1 because he threw for more yards and more touchdowns. The following should help explain. First, Bradford was undeniably terrific on Saturday, finding his receivers, some in tight spots (the fourth quarter TD to Manuel Johnson, for one) and giving the Sooners every chance to win. But McCoy makes plays with his feet and, on Saturday, made the plays when it counted. If Bradford had driven Oklahoma to a game-winning touchdown when his team was down 38-35, he would've been atop this list. He still could be at some point this season.
Up next: Saturday vs. No. 16 Kansas.
Last week: 39-of-52 passing, 390 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs; 7 rushes, 46 yards in a 28-23 loss to No. 17 Oklahoma State.
Season: 158-of-208 passing, 2,055 yards, 16 TDs, 4 INTs; 22 rushes, 120 yards.
Heisman-o-meter: Daniel did not look like his usual self on Saturday, and it wasn't only because he was wearing jersey No. 25 to honor former teammate Aaron O¹Neal. The three interceptions were highly uncharacteristic (though the first one should be charged to Danario Alexander, who let it bounce off him), and the second one, a jump ball in the middle of the field, was particularly egregious. Daniel took responsibility for the loss. "Put it all on me," he said after the game. And now the question is Can he still win the Heisman? The Watch believes so, but he'll have to be brilliant from here on out and will need to play great against the Longhorns. Daniel haters may think he should drop further, but remember he has five terrific games on his résumé, and not many candidates can claim that.
Up next: Saturday at No. 1 Texas.
Last week: 16-of-25 passing, 244 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 6 rushes, 12 yards, 2 TDs in a 48-7 victory at Wisconsin.
Season: 96-of-149 passing, 1,360 yards, 10 TDs, 2 INTs; 38 rushes, 145 yards, 6 TDs.
Heisman-o-meter: After a slow start (Clark pounded the top of a cooler with his hand after a failed third-down pass in the first quarter), he settled down nicely and got hot to start the second half. On back-to-back plays in the third quarter he threw a great passes under pressure to receiver Jordan Norwood for a 17-yard gain, and on the next play scored on a four-yard run. The Oct. 25 game against Ohio State will be the one that determines just how legitimate a candidate he is.
Up next: Saturday vs. Michigan.
Last week: 8 receptions, 120 yards; 2 rushes, 6 yards; 2 punt returns, 5 yards; 5 kickoff returns, 92 yards in a 28-23 loss to No. 17 Oklahoma State.
Season: 39 receptions, 600 yards, 5 TDs; 13 rushes, 64 yards, 1 TD; 14 punt returns, 128 yards; 14 kickoff returns, 365 yards, 1 TD.
Heisman-o-meter: The Watch doesn't know what to do with Maclin. On one hand he's possibly the most electric player in college football, but because of the nature of his position, his impact on a game can fluctuate. Not to mention, in a conference with Dez Bryant (who got rocked twice by Missouri defensive backs) and Michael Crabtree, an argument can be made that Maclin is not the best receiver in the Big 12. For now, we'll stick with Maclin.
Up next: Saturday at No. 1 Texas.
Last week: 22-of-34 passing, 258 yards, 3 TDs; 3 rushes, 15 yards in a 21-3 victory over New Mexico.
Season: 152-of-215 passing, 1,845 yards, 20 TDs, 4 INTs; 13 rushes, 32 yards, 1 TD.
Heisman-o-meter: This game was actually closer than the final score indicated (the Lobos had a fourth-quarter TD nullified by a questionable block in the back call), and a good team with a good Heisman candidate should've put New Mexico away. (Just wondering: Is Austin Collie open down the right sideline every game?) Perhaps Hall and the Cougars were looking ahead to this week's matchup with TCU, which leads the nation in sacks and total defense but gave up 411 yards and four TDs to Oklahoma.
Up next: Thursday at TCU.
Last week: 24 rushes, 154 yards, 1 TD; 4 receptions, 27 yards in a 28-23 victory at No. 3 Missouri.
Season: 125 rushes, 862 yards, 9 TDs; 7 receptions, 72 yards; 1 kickoff return, 13 yards.
Heisman-o-meter: The Watch has held off adding this undersized (5-foot-8, 190 pounds) back with surprising strength to the list until the Cowboys played a quality opponent. After Saturday's upset of Missouri, it's time. On his 68-yard touchdown run, he showed both his speed and his power, shedding a would-be tackler while racing down the right sideline. Receiver Dez Bryant and quarterback Zac Robinson could make a case for being on here as well.
Up next: Saturday vs. Baylor.
Last week: Idle.
Season: 179 rushes, 1,067 yards, 12 TDs; 14 receptions, 54 yards.
Heisman-o-meter: There are other running backs I'd prefer to have on my team over Brown -- Knowshon Moreno, LeSean McCoy and Beanie Wells, among others -- but The Watch gives credit to this Huskies back for being productive and durable. (He's second in the nation in carries.) The Watch is looking forward to seeing what he'll do against South Florida's stout run defense next month.
Up next: Saturday at Rutgers.
Last week: 20-of-25 passing, 284 yards, 2 TDs; 1 rush, 1 yard, 1 TD in a 37-31(OT) victory over Nebraska.
Season: 178-of-262 passing, 2,311 yards, 20 TDs, 3 INTs; 10 rushes, minus-4 yards, 3 TDs.
Heisman-o-meter: The Cornhuskers controlled the clock and kept the Red Raiders' offense off the field on Saturday, allowing them to hold Harrell to "only" 284 yards passing. (His 25 attempts were his fewest since his freshman year when he didn't start.) But this is why Crabtree may belong on here before Harrell: On the you-have-to-be-kidding-me fourth-and-5 play from Tech's 36, Harrell underthrew the pass, forcing Crabtree, who was four steps past his defender, to wait for the ball. Crabtree's ability to get open and run in the open field after the catch makes Harrell's job that much easier.
Up next: Saturday at Texas A&M.
Last week: Idle.
Season: 95 rushes, 708 yards, 5 TDs; 4 receptions, 27 yards.
Heisman-o-meter: LSU's Charles Scott (35 yards in a loss Florida) and Michigan State's Javon Ringer (too many three-yard carries) were bumped off the list in favor of Hunter and Coffee. The Bama back almost single handedly beat Kentucky two weeks ago, when he rushed for 218 yards. His stats are similar to Scott's, maybe slightly better, but Coffee has performed well against better competition. He needs to stop putting the ball on the ground though.
Up next: Saturday vs. Mississippi.