THE HEISMAN FORMULA

Do you want to know who will win the Heisman? SI has created a six-step formula based on past voting trends and applied it to the 2011 season to determine who will be living a trophy life in December
August 21, 2011

Heisman Favorites: THE FINE 15

JUSTIN BLACKMON

TANK CARDER

BRANDON JENKINS

CASE KEENUM

ANDREW LUCK

KELLEN MOORE

DENARD ROBINSON

MATT BARKLEY

RYAN BROYLES

LAMICHAEL JAMES

LANDRY JONES

MARCUS LATTIMORE

TAYLOR MARTINEZ

TRENT RICHARDSON

DARRON THOMAS

RULE 1

Get in Position

The winner must be a QB, RB or multidimensional receiver or defender.

MATT BARKLEY

ELIMINATED

He's a household name after the Rose Bowl and is the heart and soul of a suffocating defense, but no linebacker has finished higher than sixth since 2005.

TANK CARDER

LANDRY JONES

ANDREW LUCK

TRENT RICHARDSON

ELIMINATED

The Oklahoma State receiver faces an uphill battle considering the two wideouts who've won the award (Tim Brown and Desmond Howard) were also return men.

JUSTIN BLACKMON

LAMICHAEL JAMES

CASE KEENUM

TAYLOR MARTINEZ

DENARD ROBINSON

RYAN BROYLES

ELIMINATED

There may not be a better player than Florida State's edge-rushing end, but that's not enough to get the voters' backing (see: Ndamukong Suh, 2009).

BRANDON JENKINS

MARCUS LATTIMORE

KELLEN MOORE

DARRON THOMAS

RULE 2

In the Title Hunt

The winner must play for a BCS national championship contender.

ELIMINATED

He has 17 wins in his two years starting at quarterback for the Trojans, but USC remains on probation, and only one player who has carried that stigma (Houston's Andre Ware in 1989) has won the award.

MATT BARKLEY

LANDRY JONES

ANDREW LUCK

TRENT RICHARDSON

RYAN BROYLES

ELIMINATED

The sixth-year senior is sure to make an assault on the FBS alltime career-passing record (he is 3,486 yards short of the mark set by Timmy Chang). But playing for Houston in Conference USA will keep him off the national radar.

CASE KEENUM

TAYLOR MARTINEZ

DENARD ROBINSON

ELIMINATED

Even if the quarterback makes a seamless transition to the new pro-style offense, he must still keep the Wolverines, who were 7--6 last year, relevant through a November slate that includes Iowa, Nebraska and Ohio State.

LAMICHAEL JAMES

MARCUS LATTIMORE

KELLEN MOORE

DARRON THOMAS

RULE 3

Conference Counts

The winner must play in a BCS conference

RYAN BROYLES

MARCUS LATTIMORE

ELIMINATED

Fourth in the voting last year when he was the nation's most efficient passer, Boise State's senior quarterback is the nation's active leader in career wins, with 38, and is closing in on Colt McCoy's record of 45. But no player outside of what are now known as the six BCS conferences has finished higher than third since 1992.

KELLEN MOORE

LAMICHAEL JAMES

ANDREW LUCK

TRENT RICHARDSON

LANDRY JONES

TAYLOR MARTINEZ

DARRON THOMAS

RULE 4

Best of the Best

The winner must be the clear-cut best player on his team.

ELIMINATED

No player had more catches (131) last year than Oklahoma's multipurpose threat. But voters prefer quarterbacks over receivers in pass-happy offenses (see: Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree, 2008), so Landry Jones gets the nod.

RYAN BROYLES

LANDRY JONES

ANDREW LUCK

TRENT RICHARDSON

LAMICHAEL JAMES

ELIMINATED

As a freshman in 2010, the 6-foot, 232-pound bruiser rumbled for 1,197 yards and 17 TDs. Any Heisman push for South Carolina's back, however, is bound to take a hit with teammate and Biletnikoff runner-up Alshon Jeffery also making a bid.

MARCUS LATTIMORE

ELIMINATED

The Nebraska quarterback is coming off a record-setting freshman year, racking up 2,596 yards of total offense and 22 TDs, but he plays in the shadow of one of the nation's top linemen, Jared Crick, the Big Ten Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

TAYLOR MARTINEZ

ELIMINATED

In his first year as a starter, Oregon's electric, dual-threat passer threw 30 touchdowns against nine interceptions and dazzled in the BCS title game. But he's still not the most decorated candidate on his own team. (Keep on reading.)

DARRON THOMAS

RULE 5

Past Performance

The winner must be a previous candidate or finalist.

LAMICHAEL JAMES

ANDREW LUCK

ELIMINATED

No quarterback throws the ball more than Jones, the triggerman behind the Sooners' wide-open offense. Last season he led the country in completions (405) and attempts (617) and averaged 337.0 passing yards while accounting for 39 touchdowns. He figures to build on those numbers this fall with his top two receivers from 2010 back in the lineup. Also working in his favor is that his team is positioned to be in the national championship hunt; seven of the last 11 winners have been quarterbacks on teams to play for the crystal football.

But despite his robust stats from last season, Jones did not finish even in the top 10 of the balloting. Something about him held Heisman voters back (perhaps a perception that he's a system quarterback), and that something could very well prevent him from winning this year.

LANDRY JONES

ELIMINATED

The Alabama running back often has been described as more talented than his predecessor, Mark Ingram (who just happens to be the 2009 Heisman winner), and this year Richardson has an opportunity to prove it. With Ingram off to the NFL, Richardson is now the top back for a Crimson Tide offense that figures to stick to the ground game while it breaks in a new starting quarterback.

Richardson may be the SEC's best chance to make it four Heisman winners in five years, but, in a Heisman race in which five of the top six vote-getters from last season are back, he will start the season trailing others in name recognition.

TRENT RICHARDSON

RULE 6

The Winner

The winner must play big in the biggest games.

ANDREW LUCK,QB, Stanford, Junior

If he'd turned pro, he'd have been the surefire No. 1 pick in the NFL draft and a millionaire many times over. Instead, last season's Heisman runner-up returns as this year's favorite.

There's no shortage of challenges, though. Luck has to at least match last year's prolific numbers (3,338 passing yards, 32 TDs, eight interceptions and a 12--1 record). And he'll have to do it without his top two receivers from 2010 and three starters on the offensive line. Then there's the question of how the loss of coach Jim Harbaugh (along with key members of the staff) to the NFL will affect Luck's performance. He is also battling history: A runner-up has returned and won the award just four times, and it hasn't happened since Herschel Walker did it in 1982.

But Luck has much working in his favor. He has name recognition, arguably the most important currency a Heisman candidate can own. Then there's Stanford's schedule. The Cardinal closes out the regular season with three high-profile games on the Farm (Oregon, Cal and Notre Dame) and could qualify for the inaugural Pac-12 championship game, giving Luck the stage to leave a lasting impression in voters' minds. It all sets up for Luck to bring Stanford its first Heisman since Jim Plunkett was honored in 1970.

ELIMINATED

There is no better game-breaker in college football than Oregon's diminutive (5'9", 195 pounds) yet dynamic running back. The nation's reigning rushing champion (1,731 yards, 21 TDs in 2010), James will once again be the bell cow of a high-scoring, spread attack that has the pieces to land the Ducks back in the BCS title game. He has an outside shot at cracking the 2,000-yard mark.

If he can run wild in an opening-week megamatchup against LSU in Arlington, Texas, James will have everyone else playing catch-up. His campaign, however, hinges largely on how well he fares in a Nov. 12 showdown against Luck and Stanford in what is a de facto Heisman elimination game. The first Heisman Trophy in Oregon history may be on the line.

LAMICHAEL JAMES

PHOTOPETER READ MILLER (LUCK PORTRAIT) PHOTOPETER READ MILLER (BROYLES) PHOTOPETER READ MILLER (MOORE) PHOTOJED JACOBSOHN (JAMES) PHOTOJED JACOBSOHN (LUCK) PHOTOJED JACOBSOHN (THOMAS) PHOTOED RUVALCABA/MARINMEDIA.ORG/CAL SPORT MEDIA (BARKLEY) PHOTOSPRUCE DERDEN/SOUTHCREEK GLOBAL/ZUMAPRESS.COM (BLACKMON) PHOTOPAUL MOSELEY/FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM/MCT/LANDOV (CARDER) PHOTOGRAY QUETTI/CAL SPORT MEDIA (JENKINS) PHOTOROBERT BECK (JONES) PHOTODAVID J. PHILLIP/AP (KEENUM) PHOTOSIMON BRUTY (LATTIMORE) PHOTODAVID E. KLUTHO (MARTINEZ) PHOTOBOB ROSATO (RICHARDSON) PHOTODAMIAN STROHMEYER (ROBINSON)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)