The very thing that makes No. 1 USC so overpowering--its abundance of offensive weapons--is hurting the Trojans' chances of producing their third Heisman Trophy winner in four seasons. After an eye-popping performance in which he carried 15 times for 160 yards and three touchdowns against Notre Dame on Oct. 15, junior tailback Reggie Bush looked like he might run away with the statue. USC has since had four straight lopsided victories, but Bush has had only one 100-yard game and two touchdowns rushing while sharing the spotlight with backfield mate LenDale White (who had a 155-yard game against Washington State and six rushing touchdowns over the same span). In last Saturday's 35-10 win at Cal, neither Bush (17 carries, 82 yards) nor reigning Heisman winner Matt Leinart (20 of 32, 246 yards, no touchdown passes) put up trophy-type numbers. White has been steady (16 carries, 90 yards against Cal), but his overall season stats don't mark him as a candidate. Meanwhile, Texas quarterback Vince Young (above) has been a one-man wrecking crew. He had 506 total yards in a 47-28 win over Oklahoma State on Oct. 29, and in consecutive routs of Baylor (62-0) and Kansas (66-14) he completed 35 of 54 passes (64.8%) for 579 yards, with six touchdowns and no interceptions. If I had to send in my Heisman ballot this week, I'd vote for Young.
HEAD TO HEAD
No. 9 Ohio State (6-1 in the Big Ten, 8-2 overall) at No. 17 Michigan (5-2, 7-3)
November 21, 2005
As so often happens, these teams enter their annual grudge match with Big Ten title aspirations--though this year Penn State (6-1, 9-1) has to lose at Michigan State (2-5, 5-5) this Saturday for the winner to get the conference's automatic BCS berth. The Buckeyes' offense has erupted during their current five-game winning streak, averaging 41.8 points a game, mostly because of the improved decision-making of quarterback Troy Smith (63.7% completion rate during that span) and the breakaway ability of running back Antonio Pittman (above), who's averaging 6.1 yards per carry, up from 5.0 in his first five games. However, Michigan's unsung defense has held three of its last four opponents (Penn State, Northwestern and Indiana) to 10 or more points below their season averages. Ohio State, which boasts the nation's fifth-ranked defense, is the more complete team, but in this rivalry the team with the better record has lost four of the past five meetings. Don't be surprised if that trend continues.
THREE AND OUT
1 It's becoming increasingly clear that Florida State (7-3) doesn't stockpile talent the way it once did. Injuries at running back, cornerback and along both lines have crippled the Seminoles and resulted in three losses to unranked opponents. Florida State lost to an unranked foe only once throughout the 1990s.
2 After going 0-11 last year in his first season at Central Florida, George O'Leary has the Golden Knights at 7-3 and in first place in Conference USA's East division. Makes you wonder whether Charlie Weis would be in South Bend right now had O'Leary not fibbed on his résumé in 2001.
3 Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter could be in jeopardy of losing his job if the Sun Devils (5-5) don't beat rival Arizona (3-7) on Nov. 25. After going 9-3 last season, Arizona State has been a major disappointment. At the same time, the Wildcats, who upset undefeated UCLA on Nov. 5, have shown signs of life under second-year coach Mike Stoops.
• More from Stewart Mandel five times a week at SI.com/collegefootball.