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The College Football season kicks off on Thursday.  This Thursday.  Tomorrow!  I can’t believe it either.  Not a great slate of games with only 1 Top 25 team in action as #23 Wake faces Baylor, with everyone else taking the field on Saturday.  But it’s still football.  Before week 1 begins I have to weigh in with my top picks for the Heisman, getting on record now.  Really the more predictions you make, the better your chances are of getting something right, right?  So allow me to take a stab at it.  Remember the Big 8?  Well here are my Big 8 favorites to take home the statued stiff arm.

 

8. Matthew Stafford, Junior QB, Georgia

(2007: 2,523 passing yards, 19 TD, 10 INT, 2 rushing TD)

The QB on the #1 team, like it or not he’ll be in the mix until he plays himself out of it.  Georgia has a world beater schedule if you ever saw one featuring 6 preseason Top 25 teams.  If Stafford and Moreno (below) can keep it up, they’ll receive a ton of Heisman consideration at the end of the year.  His numbers weren’t pretty last year, but playing in the title game can make stats look much more impressive.  Like plastic surgery.            

 

7. Jeremy Maclin, Soph. WR, Missouri

(2007: 80 receptions, 1,055 receiving yards, 9 TD, 2,776 total yards, 16 total TD)

Easily one of the most entertaining players in college football.  Whenever Mizzou is on TV this year be sure to watch.  Maclin, and not QB Chase Daniel, is the Tigers’ best chance at the Heisman.  He does it all.  He catches the ball, runs the ball, returns punts and kicks, he’ll even throw it (1-2, INT last season.)  Maybe he shouldn’t throw it, but any time it’s in his hand he has a chance for 6.  Teams may just kick away from him this year, which would significantly hurt his stock, but Daniel and the Mizzou offense better find him even more opportunities to touch the ball this year. 

 

6. Beanie Wells, Junior RB, Ohio State

(2007: 1,609 rushing yards, 16 TD, 5.9 avg.)

I am sick of everything Ohio State football.  Troy Smith winning the Heisman, Ted Ginn getting picked way to high by the Dolphins, the Buckeyes getting blown out bad in BCS Championship games by anyone from the SEC.  Enough.  This guy is nasty though.  Flip a coin between Wells and Moreno to decide the best RB in the country.  Wells will try to join Archie Griffin and Eddie George as RBs from “the” Ohio State to win the Heisman, but if he really wants he may have to stay for his senior season… and that ain’t happenin’.   

 

5. Pat White, Senior QB, West Virginia

(2007: 1,724 passing yards, 14 TD, 4 INT, 66.7%, 1,335 rushing yards, 14 TD)

Head coach Rich Rodriguez and speedy RB Steve Slaton are gone, but White’s Heisman hopes are still very much alive.  He and Noel Devine will spearhead a West Virginia team that once again finds themselves in the preseason Top 10.  The Mountaineers have a huge non-conference game against Auburn on ESPN Thursday night in October where he can grab some votes by putting up big numbers vs. an SEC defense.  Last Big East Heisman winner?  You have to go back to 1992 when Gino Torretta won it at UMiami. 

 

4. Knowshon Moreno, Soph. RB, Georgia

(2007: 1,334 rushing yards, 14 TD, 5.4 avg.)

Moreno went over 100 yards on the ground every game he had 22+ carries.  He racked up 196 vs. Troy and 188 vs. Florida with 3 TDs in both games.  The guy tore up the SEC as a freshmen reminiscent of another former Bull Dog, (I believe that guy also did some bobsled work.)  Moreno’s team starts the season ranked #1 and he’s been on a number of magazine covers, so the hype is certainly there.  On the flip side, since 2000 only one RB has won the award.  If Darren McFadden can’t win it, it’s going to be tough for any RB let alone Moreno. 

 

3. Michael Crabtree, Soph. WR, Texas Tech

(2007: 134 receptions, 1,962 receiving yards, 22 TD)

Look at those freshmen year numbers.  Comical.  If Crabtree can somehow better those freakish totals he must be a finalist.  Desmond Howard and Tim Brown are the only WRs to win the Heisman trophy, and both men were exceptional return specialists as well.  It’s certainly an up hill struggle for Crabtree, but I’ll be rooting for him all year.  What would it take?  150+ catches, 2,000+ yards, and 25+ TDs?  That’s a great college career, let alone season, and you know what, he could do it.  Michael Crabtree for Heisman! 

 

2. Tim Tebow, Junior QB, Florida

(2007: 3,286 passing yards, 32 TD, 6 INT, 895 rushing yards, 23 TD)

As we all know, Tebow is trying to join Archie Griffin as the only back-to-back/ 2 time Heisman trophy winner.  In just his sophomore season he compiled an astonishing 55 total touchdowns for the Gators.  Unreal.  He’s the hands down obvious pick to capture the award again, and that’s why I can’t pick him.  I’m not going to predict an injury, but with the ball in his hands so often and the hits he takes against SEC defenses I think its going to be extremely difficult to repeat.  Key games against Miami, Tennessee, LSU, Georgia, and Florida State will attempt to derail Tebow’s chances.      

 

1. Graham Harrell, Senior QB, Texas Tech

(2007: 5,705 passing yards, 48 TD, 14 INT, 71.8%, 4 rushing TD)

If you like stats, and I do, then you can’t ignore the boys from Texas Tech.  I was a fan of Colt Brennan the past 2 seasons out in Hawaii, where his competition (or lack there of) hurt him, but for Harrell?  You can say system all you want, but he’s putting up XBOX numbers in the Big 12.  How about 46-67, 646 yds, 5 TD-0 INT in a loss to OK State last year?  In a loss?  They had 4 of them last year, and will certainly need to cut that down to have a chance for a Red Raider to hoist the trophy.  He and my true favorite Crabtree will split votes, but Bush and Leinart seemed to do ok with that same problem.  Much like my inquiry with Crabtree, what will it take for Harrell?  6,000 passing yards?  50+ TD passes?  75% completions? 

 

Three of Texas Tech’s last 5 games are against Kansas, Texas, and Oklahoma.  If they can finish the year with 1 or 2 losses I would have to think Harrell will get serious attention.  Home games versus Eastern Washington, SMU, and UMass.  The scoreboard guy is going to be busy, we could even see some records fall. 

 

Well there’s my Heisman picks.  Looks like I’ll have a close eye on Texas Tech all season.  Who do you like this year?  (Besides Tebow) 

 

-Rich Keefe

 

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