LSU's Peterson flashes signs of Trophy contender, Boise QB shines

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It certainly wasn't subtle. But an in-your-face signal that he was officially throwing his hat into the ring was exactly what Patrick Peterson needed.

The LSU corner/return man had just returned a punt 60 yards in the Tigers' 20-14 win over West Virginia on Saturday night, when he stopped in the end zone and struck that familiar stiff-armed Heisman Trophy pose. It drew a 15-yard penalty for excessive celebration, but come December, that yellow flag could turn into much more -- like a bronze trophy.

"The attention he receives for that will be off the charts," LSU associate sports information director Bill Martin told the Shreveport Times. "We've had a 'Peterson for Heisman' promotional plan in the works since the spring. We've just been waiting to really start it."

Peterson faces the longest of odds (something Ndamukong Suh knows a little about), but what he has, and what arguably no defensive player has had since Charles Woodson broke through the glass ceiling 13 years ago, is a singular moment to burn into voters' minds before the start of October.

LSU may not have begun its Peterson Heisman campaign, but for all intents and purposes, it's officially underway.

Before the Watchman unveils this week's top 10 Heisman candidates, here's a look back at the rankings after Week 3.

Last Week: 4-of-4 passing for 60 yards; five rushes for 129 yards and two TDs in 65-21 win over Bowling Green

Season: 57-of-80 passing for 731 yards, four TDs and one INT; 79 rushes for 688 yards and six TDs

The knee, according to Michigan's staff is fine. In fact, Robinson could have returned if needed, but it was clear he wasn't. Shoelace was spectacular in a little more than nine minutes of work, running for 100-plus yards again to keep his national rushing lead. But the injury -- minor or not -- was a concern for a player who has taken a pounding and enormous workload just four weeks into the season.

Next Up: Saturday at Indiana

Last Week: 19-of-27 passing for 288 yards and three TDs; two rushes for minus-1 yard in 37-24 win over Oregon State

Season: 62-of-95 for 873 yards, eight TDs and one INT; six rushes for minus-21 yards

This was Moore at his very best. With Oregon State's Brandon Hardin coming untouched off the edge, Moore sidestepped the rusher and hit Austin Pettis with a 25-yard pass before lofting a pass to Titus Young for a touchdown. Moore put on a show in what was billed as the biggest sporting event in Idaho history. Now comes the hard part: keeping voters' interest with the BCS portion of the schedule over.

Next Up: Saturday at New Mexico State

Last Week: 20-of-26 passing for four TDs; seven rushes for 104 yards and one TD; one reception for 20 yards and one TD in 73-20 win over Eastern Michigan

Season: 71-of-107 passing for 939 yards, 10 TDs and two INTs; 43 rushes for 269 yards and three TDs; one reception for 20 yards and one TD

Pryor did everything but the laundry. He accounted for six touchdowns, becoming the third player in OSU history to throw for a TD, run for a TD and catch a TD pass in a game, all while leading the Buckeyes to their largest point total since 1950. Four weeks into the season, it looks like Jim Tressel has loosened the leash on his quarterback as Pryor's averages 26.8 passes per game after topping 26 attempts four times in 2009.

Next Up: Saturday at Illinois

Last Week: 24 rushes for 157 yards and two TDs; two receptions for 27 yards in 24-20 win over Arkansas

Season: 33 rushes for 308 yards and four TDs; two receptions for 27 yards

It's the Watchman's dilemma: Having missed two games, how high can Ingram move up? He's averaging 9.3 yards per carry in two weeks of work and he's arguably the reason the Crimson Tide dodged an upset in Fayetteville, so he's making a strong case. But another national title seems more obtainable than equaling Archie Griffin's two trophies, though you'll find no argument here that Ingram is proving he's still the best running back in the country.

Next Up: Saturday vs. Florida

Last Week: 16-of-21 passing for 158 yards and two TDs; 25 rushes for 176 yards and three TDs in 35-27 win over South Carolina

Season: 43-of-68 passing for 683 yards, nine TDs and three INTs; 75 rushes for 485 yards and five TDs; one reception for 22 yards

Newton simply took over against the Gamecocks, but like Michigan with Shoelace you have to wonder if the Tigers are riding Newton too much? Of Auburn's 131 points, Newton has been responsible for 84 of them and he leads the SEC in rushing with 75 carries, trailing only Robinson and Georgia Tech's JoshNesbitt for most by a passer. He's going to need more help from his running backs to keep him upright and in the race.

Next Up: Saturday vs. Louisiana-Monroe

Last Week: 19-of-32 passing for 238 yards, one TD and two INTs; four rushes for 23 yards in 37-14 win over Notre Dame

Season: 64-of-102 passing for 912 yards, 11 TDs and two INTs; 17 rushes for 163 yards and one TD

After terrorizing Wake Forest in a game that started at 11:15 p.m. ET in Week 3, Luck failed to take advantage of a nationally televised date with Notre Dame as he threw two picks against a defense that came in 90th against the pass. He'll have plenty of opportunities to get back into my good graces in what could be the biggest Pac-10 game of the year as he leads the Cardinal into Oregon's Autzen Stadium.

Next Up: Saturday at Oregon

Last Week: 25-of-38 passing for 357 yards, one TD and three INTs; three rushes for minus-7 yards and one TD in 24-20 loss to Alabama

Season: 95-of-138 passing for 1,438 yards, 10 TDs and five INTs; 14 rushes for minus-10 yards and two TDs; one punt for 43 yards

There's no way around it: Mallett had a chance to seize the lead in the Heisman race and failed. The Razorbacks had the No. 1 team in the nation on the ropes, but he threw two fourth-quarter interceptions and tossed a career-high three picks. He's not out of the running following his third straight game with at least 300 yards, but he has some serious work to do.

Next: Sat., Oct. 9 vs. Texas A&M

Last Week: 28 rushes for 114 yards and one TD in 42-31 win over Arizona State

Season: 58 rushes for 475 yards and four TDs; one reception for nine yards

It certainly wasn't pretty against a Sun Devils defense that James called "the best defense I've faced in my whole career." Averaging nearly 12.5 yards per carry coming in, James tallied just 2.7 yards on 27 of his career-high 28 carries, but a 40-yard TD run in the first quarter helped him break 100 yards. He'll be on his biggest stage yet as the focal point of the Ducks' offense against the Cardinal.

Next Up: Saturday vs. Stanford

Last Week: One tackle; two punt returns for 86 yards and one TD in 20-14 win over West Virginia.

Season: 11 tackles, two passes defended, two interceptions, one blocked kick; nine punt returns for 253 yards and two TDS, six kick returns for 190 yards

I'm skeptical that another player can equal Charles Woodson, but Peterson is that rare defender in the same mold as the 1997 Heisman winner. Peterson is the only player in the nation to rank in the top 15 in yards per punt return (28.1) and kick return (31.6), but without a role on offense, like Woodson had, can his return exploits make up for the fact that his defensive stats will be limited since most quarterbacks won't throw his way?

Next Up: Saturday vs. Tennessee

Last Week: 15 rushes for 118 yards and one TD in 70-3 win over Austin Peay

Season: 77 rushes for 501 yards and six TDs

Clay extended the nation's longest string of 100-yard games to 10 as National Big Ten Thump a Little Guy Day was celebrated everywhere but Purdue. Clay hasn't had a monster game (he averages 125.5 ypg) but that's by design. Badgers coach Bret Bielema has been altering between Clay, freshman James White and Montee Ball, allowing his star to take less of a pounding. A healthy Clay should carry a bigger load in Big Ten play.

Next Up: Saturday at Michigan State