Luck favorite for Heisman, but not only strong candidate

Luck
Luck
Posted: October 20, 2011

STANFORD quarterback Andrew Luck would have been the top pick in last year's NFL draft. He will be the first guy taken in the next one. It's simply a matter of destination.

The only other unknown would be whether he's taking a Heisman Trophy there with him.

He was the runner-up 10 months ago, to Auburn's Cam Newton. And he's done nothing to diminish his status as this season's anointed favorite. It's just that the Cardinal hasn't played anyone yet. That will change Saturday, when they host Washington. Then they're at USC. In November they'll get Oregon and Notre Dame at home. So he'll have plenty of chances to impress the voters, maybe even in a Pac-10 title game.

OK, who's going to provide the serious competition?

Well, South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore just went down for the duration. Oregon's LaMichael James, a 2010 finalist, sat out last week with an elbow injury but could be back soon. Assuming he returns at something approaching his usual self, he could still be a factor. Especially if the Ducks beat Stanford.

Boise State's Kellen Moore also made it to New York a year ago. He figures to do so again. There's no disputing what he's done. But he doesn't play in a BCS conference. Perhaps that shouldn't matter. Relevant or not, it probably doesn't help his cause.

Alabama's Trent Richardson doesn't look like he's going away any time soon. And a Crimson Tide running back did win it 2 years ago, perhaps even with not as much on his resume. Oklahoma has two candidates in quarterback Landry Jones and wide receiver Ryan Broyles. Two Sooner QBs have won in the last 7 years. But a wide receiver hasn't won since Desmond Howard in 1991. Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden might be able to work his way into the equation if the Cowboys beat Oklahoma. Ditto Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson, who has already locked down transfer of the year, should those Badgers remain and-0.

In this century all but two of the 10 winners have played in the national-title game, the exceptions being Carson Palmer in 2002 and Tim Tebow 5 years later. And nine quarterbacks have struck the pose, which would seemingly narrow the possibilities.

Although Houston's Case Keenum certainly will have the numbers, and that should be enough to get him to the ceremonies, he doesn't fit the profile.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT

The last time Kansas State was 6-0, in 2000, who was its quarterback? Hint: He went 21-4 as a starter. See Answer man.

THIS AND THAT

* One of the six computer rankings used in the BCS formula, the Massey ratings, had unbeaten Wisconsin at No. 17. That was one behind Nebraska, which lost by 31 at Wisconsin. And six behind two-loss Texas.

* Penn State is 6-1, but 1-5 against the spread (there was no official line for the game against FCS Indiana State). The cover came against Iowa. For amusement purposes only.

* Florida has scored 27 points in its last three games.

* LSU has won at least two road SEC games in each of the last 11 seasons, the longest such streak in that league.

ANSWER MAN

That would be Jonathan Beasley.

SPOTLIGHT ON NOTRE DAME-SOUTHERN CAL RIVALRY

IT REMAINS the sport's best intersectional rivalry, even if it isn't what it used to be in the Ara Parseghian-John McKay days. Or neither team is ranked.

Last year, the Fighting Irish ended an eight-game losing streak in the series with a 20-16 win in Los Angeles. This Saturday they'll play a night home game for the first time in 21 years.

Both teams have second-year coaches. Notre Dame's Brian Kelly won his last four in 2010 to finish 8-5. Then he lost his first two this season. But the Irish have won four straight since then, and are coming off a bye. They're still thinking BCS bowl, something they haven't done in 6 years.

The Trojans are 5-1 and still not in the Top 25, something that's never happened to them before. They also went 8-5 a year ago in Lane Kiffin's debut, and aren't eligible to go bowling because of NCAA infractions. Next week they've got unbeaten Stanford at home. Tough exacta.

USC's Matt Barkley missed last year's game with an ankle injury. As a freshman in 2009 he passed for 380 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-27 win at South Bend.

"I just remember [the environment] being electric," he accurately recalled.

It all dates back to 1926, when Knute Rockne became the first Midwestern coach to take his team to the West Coast. They've met every year since except for 1943-45 (due to travel restrictions during World War II). The winner gets to keep a jeweled shillelagh. This is only the 10th time (and second in a row) that they've met when both were unranked. The Irish are 7-2 in those matchups, 4-1 at home.

Overall, ND leads the series, 43-33-5.

SIDELINES

MAC ME UP:

* Last season Temple lost a close one at Penn State, lost a crossover conference game in early October and posted back-to-back shutouts. So far these Owls have dropped a close home game with Penn State, lost an early-October crossover game (this time at home) and are now coming off consecutive shutouts.

* The top five teams in the West division are all 4-3. The only teams in the East with a winning record are Temple (5-2) and Ohio (4-3).

* Chandler Harnish of Northern Illinois just became the 10th FBS player to throw for 200 yards and run for 200 in one game.

SMALLS STUFF:

Sophomore Kyle Schuberth, who had more carries last season than he did in his career at Monsignor Bonner High School, has rushed for more than 100 yards in Delaware Valley's last five games, the first Aggie to do that. Unbeaten Del Val is ranked 13th in Division III.

COUCH POTATO:

THURSDAY

7:30 Bethune-Cookman at Norfolk State, ESPNU

9 UCLA at Arizona, ESPN

FRIDAY

8 West Virginia at Syracuse, ESPN

8 Rutgers at Louisville, ESPN2

SATURDAY

Noon Cincinnat at South Florida, Channel 6

Noon Yale at Penn, Versus

Noon North Carolina at Clemson, ESPN

Noon Illinois at Purdue, ESPN2

Noon Kansas State at Kansas, CSN

Noon Arkansas at Mississippi, TCN

Noon Jacksonville State at Kentucky, ESPNU

Noon Indiana at Iowa, Big Ten

Noon Oklahoma State at Missouri, FX

Noon Wake Forest at Duke, Phila. Nonstop

3:30 Auburn at LSU, Channel 3

3:30 Maryland at Florida State, Channel 6

3:30 Georgia Tech at Miami, ESPN

3:30 Nebraska at Minnesota, ESPN2

3:30 Oregon at Colorado, TCN

3:30 Air Force at Boise State, Versus

3:30 East Carolina at Navy, CBS College Sports

7 Army at Vanderbilt, ESPNU

7 Tulsa at Rice, TCN

7 Penn State at Northwestern, Big Ten

7:15 Tennessee at Alabama, ESPN2

7:30 USC at Notre Dame, Channel 10

8 Wisconsin at Michigan State, ESPN

8 Texas Tech at Oklahoma, Channel 6

8 SMU at Southern Mississippi, CBS College Sports

10:30 Oregon State at Washington State, CSN

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