Heisman Watch: Injury doesn’t eliminate Bradford

Let’s cut through the garbage, the pomp, the circumstance, the PR BS and the hype surrounding the greatest individual award in all of sports. The Heisman Trophy goes to the most celebrated quarterback or running back from a top BCS team or a top 25 non-BCS program. And while others will be acknowledged here if they have any prayer of potentially finishing in the top five, it’ll take something extraordinary to get on this list.

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This isn’t a ranking of the best players or the top NFL prospects. This is an attempt to put the finger on the pulse of the Heisman chase. So without further ado, here are the current favorites at the moment. These listings will change week after week with players moving in and out of the categories.

No current chance to win,

but with finalist potential

QB Matt Barkley, Fr. USC

This week: at Ohio State.

Last week: 15-19, 233 yds, one TD in win over San Jose State.

The debut couldn’t have gone better with a nearly flawless performance in the win over San Jose State. Now it’s national-coming-out-party time with the big game against Ohio State. All the insiders know how good he is, and now it could be the time when the world figures out that the arm, the poise and the talent make him the total package.

WR Dez Bryant, Jr. Oklahoma State

This week: Home vs. Houston.

Last week: three catches, 77 yards, two TDs, two punt returns for 29 yards in win over Georgia.

His teammates, QB Zac Robinson and RB Kendall Hunter, politely excused themselves from the Heisman discussion, at least for the moment, after mediocre days against Georgia. Bryant made a slew of mistakes and appeared to be rattled by the Dawg defensive backfield, but he also blew the game open with his two big scoring grabs.

QB Todd Reesing, Sr. Kansas

This week: At UTEP.

Last week: 13-20, 208 yds, two TDs, 13 carries, 79 yards in win over Northern Colorado.

The buzz is starting build. It’s almost like everyone forgot about how good he has been over the last two years, and while it was only Northern Colorado he rocked against, he came out and showed that he’s going to be a statistical monster. If he keeps rushing for scores, his Heisman stock will shoot up.

On the radar, but we’re looking for more

RB Jahvid Best, Jr. California

This week: Home vs. Eastern Washington.

Last week: Ten carries for 137 yards and two touchdowns in win over Maryland.

Unfortunately, few ended up watching his scintillating runs in the blowout over the Terps, and that’s unfortunate. His 73-yard touchdown dash ended the game before it really even started. His problem will be the bulk numbers. Cal will be able to blow out many teams so badly that he won’t see enough carries to get the Heisman types fired up.

QB Jimmy Clausen, Jr. Notre Dame

This week: at Michigan.

Last week: 15-18, 315 yards, four TDs in win over Nevada.

Counting the Hawaii win at the end of last year, Clausen has completed 37 of his last 44 passes for 716 yards and nine touchdowns with no interceptions in his last two games. Now he and the Irish are front and center on the national stage, and he’ll get plenty of chances to get in the thick of the Heisman race. Team success will be vital to his chances, and it’ll all come down to the October 17 date with USC.

RB Jonathan Dwyer, Jr. Georgia Tech

This week: Home vs. Clemson.

Last week: Seven carries for 95 yards and two touchdowns in win over Jacksonville State.

First play from scrimmage in the 2009 season and boom! 74 yards, and it’s ballgame. He added another short score in the first quarter, and his day was done. If he rocks against Clemson, he’ll start to be the ACC’s featured superstar.

QB Jevan Snead, Jr. Ole Miss

This week: Home vs. SE Louisiana

Last week: 12-22, 175 yards, two TDs, two INTs in win over Memphis.

He was awful against Memphis. He was spraying his passes, he was inconsistent and he struggled to get the offense moving. And then the game turned late, and he was able to stick in the dagger to make a tight battle a laugher. His Heisman campaign is all about the SEC season that’s right around the corner.

The true favorites

QB Sam Bradford, Jr. Oklahoma

This week: Out with shoulder injury. Oklahoma is home vs. Idaho State.

Last week: 10-14, 96 yards, one TD in loss to BYU.

It’s not over. If he can come back from his shoulder injury in time to lead OU to a win over Miami and then outplay Colt McCoy and lead the way to a win over Texas, he’s right back in the thick of the chase. Voters will put him back on the favorites list if he can make the Sooners shine again, and he’ll get more credit for being tough enough to grind it out through the pain.

QB Max Hall, Sr. BYU

This week: at Tulane.

Last week: 26-38, 329 yards, two TDs, two INTs in win over Oklahoma.

He put together a Heisman-caliber drive to lead his Cougars to an improbable win over Oklahoma, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. What he does in the Mountain West is important, and while he has to lead the team to a title and a BCS slot, the upcoming Florida State game will be what defines his Heisman candidacy. After seeing what Miami’s Jacory Harris did to the ‘Noles, Hall has to be licking his chops.

QB Terrelle Pryor, Soph. Ohio State

This week: Home vs. USC.

Last week: 14-21, 174 yards, one TD, one INT, six carries, 30 yards, one rushing TD in win over Navy.

Here it is. This is the chance for Pryor to go from being a superior prospect to a college football superstar with the biggest game of the early college football season. If he’s the one who can finally lead a Big Ten team to a win over USC and if he can put Ohio State back in the national title picture with a win, the Navy game will be forgotten and he’ll be on the fast track to a trip to New York.

QB Tim Tebow, Sr. Florida

This week: Home vs. Troy.

Last week: 10-15, 188 yards, one TD, two carries, one yard, one TD in win over Charleston Southern.

Statistics aren’t going to matter so much for Tebow’s Heisman chase; it’s all about the big wins. He’ll put up the necessary statistics to be considered, but all that matters is whether or not he can make the No. 1 team in the country special on a weekly basis. There will be a backlash, but he can silence all that with more and more wins.

And the current leader in the clubhouse is …

QB Colt McCoy, Sr. Texas

This week: at Wyoming.

Last week: 21-29, 317 yards, two TDs, one INT in win over ULM.

With Sam Bradford getting hurt, it might be McCoy’s Heisman for the taking if he can lead the Longhorns to the national title. He threw a (gasp!) interception against Louisiana-Monroe and he might have a few problems against a not-that-bad Wyoming defense, but he has the team around him to do something special. He’s everyone’s favorite at the moment — he’s the type of guy that’s easy to root for, and he’s a good story. But that doesn’t matter if he doesn’t beat Oklahoma and take the ‘Horns to the Big 12 title.