By Gene Menez
November 23, 2009

Here are three things, in no particular order, for which The Watch is thankful this year: his relatively good health, separated right shoulder (Sam Bradford style, only worse) notwithstanding; his I-couldn't-live-without-you "nurse," to whom he doesn't express his appreciation nearly enough; and Week 12 of the college football season, which begins the annual Watch paring down from 10 candidates to eight, to five, and finally to three.

The eight still standing:

Last week: 11 rushes, 102 yards, two TDs in a 45-0 victory over Chattanooga

Season: 205 rushes, 1,399 yards, 12 TDs; 25 receptions, 225 yards

Heisman-o-meter: The Watch tried to follow its own advice from last week: With Alabama meeting FCS member Chattanooga, "be careful to not read too much into Ingram's numbers." That said, the 'Bama back made the most of his 20-plus minutes of work and added two long touchdown runs to his highlight reel. He broke two tackles and dragged two defenders on the first and went army style (left-right-left-right-left-right) on the second. A good outing Friday against an Auburn defense ranked 88th against the run will turn the SEC championship showdown against Florida into a high stakes Heisman game for Ingram.

Up next: Friday at Auburn

Last week: 20 rushes, 136 yards, four TDs; one reception, 29 yards in a 34-28 loss to Cal

Season: 282 rushes, 1,531 yards, 23 TDs; nine receptions, 116 yards

Heisman-o-meter: Gerhart had two big plays against Cal: a 61-yard touchdown run on his second carry and a 29-yard catch-and-run on which he shed multiple tacklers and dragged two more down to the Cal 13-yard-line. The reception, just his ninth on the year, put the Cardinal in position to pull out the win, but quarterback Andrew Luck's interception ended that hope. Why didn't coach Jim Harbaugh feed his Heisman candidate with the game on the line? Perhaps because Cal had done a decent job slowing Gerhart after that 61-yarder -- 11 of his 20 carries went for three yards or fewer. Gerhart should deliver a more consistent performance this week against a Notre Dame defense that just surrendered 231 rushing yards to Connecticut.

Up next: Saturday vs. Notre Dame

Last week: nine tackles, four solo; two tackles for loss; one-and-a-half sacks; two passes broken up; one quarterback hurry in a 17-3 victory over Kansas State

Season: 65 tackles, 35 solo; 15 tackles for loss; six-and-a-half sacks; one interception; 10 passes broken up; 20 quarterback hurries; one forced fumble; three blocked kicks

Heisman-o-meter: After Kansas State held him relatively in check for three quarters, Suh took over in the fourth, helping the Huskers repeatedly turn away the Wildcats' offense. He recorded a sack and deflected a pass on consecutive plays; later in the quarter he chased the K-State quarterback 10 yards downfield before deflecting another pass on the next snap. But the stats don't reveal one of the most amazing things about Suh: the guy never seems to come off the field. Add that to the list of reasons he won't sniff a trip to New York next month, but should.

Up next: Friday at Colorado

Last week: 19 rushes, 58 yards, one TD; five receptions, 39 yards; one punt return, 17 yards in a 34-21 victory over Virginia

Season: 172 rushes, 894 yards, seven TDs; 29 receptions, 421 yards, four TDs; 16 kickoff returns, 543 yards, three TDs; seven punt returns, 208 yards; 1-of-2 passing, 17 yards, one TD

Heisman-o-meter: Maybe the Cavs just have Spiller's number. For the second straight season, Al Groh's boys contained Clemson's back of all trades. (Spiller managed just 18 rushing yards and 16 receiving yards last year against Virginia.) Spiller did have a 26-yard catch and a 14-yard run, and he did break the ACC record for all-purpose yards, but his string of big days ended. Next up: a South Carolina team that not too long ago surrendered 246 rushing yards to Mark Ingram.

Up next: Saturday at South Carolina

Last week: 15-of-29 passing, 233 yards, one TD; one rush, one yard in a 52-21 victory at Utah State

Season: 218-of-329 passing, 2,791 yards, 33 TDs, three INTs; 22 rushes, minus-six yards, one TD

Heisman-o-meter: Boise's running attack clicked against the Aggies, so the Broncos needed Moore less in this one. (The game was his first without three touchdown passes since Week 4.) He did exhibit a nice touch on a TD pass to Tommy Gallarda, and a strong arm on a deep ball to Titus Young late in the second quarter. Moore has been deadly efficient this season and fully deserves any accolades that come his way, but the guess here is he'll miss out on some national awards due to the level of the Broncos' competition.

Up next: Friday vs. Nevada

Last week: 24 rushes, 165 yards, two TDs; five receptions, 39 yards in a 42-10 victory at Washington State

Season: 239 rushes, 1,313 yards, 19 TDs; 67 receptions, 436 yards, one TD; 1-of-1 passing, 14 yards, one TD

Heisman-o-meter: The Watch isn't crazy enough to believe Quizz will finish in the top three of Heisman voting, much less win the thing. One reason: Oregon State's relative lack of exposure, which was evident again on Saturday with its game nowhere near a TV. But that's not a valid reason to disregard Rodgers, who had another big game, albeit against woeful Wazzu. He left with 12 minutes still left in the game, finishing the day with a 39-yard touchdown run that, according to the Corvallis Gazette-Times, was very Quizzian. ("He appeared stopped in a pile, wiggled free and finished the play.") Exposure won't be a problem for Rodgers in his next game, as the Beavers' Civil War showdown with the Ducks for a Rose Bowl berth will give him (and Oregon's Jeremiah Masoli and LaMichael James) a chance to show the nation just how good he is.

Up next: Dec. 3 at Oregon

Last week: nine receptions, 123 yards, one TD; one rush, 12 yards; two punt returns, 20 yards in a 33-30 double overtime loss to Connecticut

Season: 83 receptions, 1,295 yards, 12 TDs; 24 rushes, 171 yards, two TDs; 11 punt returns, one TD; three kickoff returns, 62 yards

Heisman-o-meter: Another week, another Notre Dame loss, another big game from Tate. What separated this performance from his others this season is Tate did most of his damage early. He took advantage of Connecticut's poor coverage on the game's opening drive to grab a TD catch. Then later in the first quarter he snuck out of the backfield for a 39-yard catch-and-run. However, Tate was pretty quiet in the second half and in overtime. He'll need another big game next week (and it would help his cause if Notre Dame wins) in order to make The Watch after we whittle down to five.

Up next: Saturday at Stanford

Last week: Idle

Season: 224 rushes, 1,291 yards, 13 TDs; 17 receptions, 142 yards, one TD

Heisman-o-meter: LaMichael James, Jeremiah Masoli, Colt McCoy and Jordan Shipley all warrant consideration for the No. 8 spot, but The Watch is sticking with Lewis, who has been a running sensation in his first season. Even if Lewis goes off in his last two games against the Mountaineers and Bearcats, it's hard to imagine him earning an invite to New York. Still, those games could serve as a springboard for a 2010 Heisman season.

Up next: Friday at West Virginia

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