December 14, 2017

Ducks Soar and Wildcats Climb in the Leatherheads Top 16

It is just week two of the Leatherheads College Football Top 16 and we already have some dramatic changes.  Yes, the Crimson Tide still sit at the top after their 40-7 victory over Florida Atlantic.  However, they only won by 33!  LSU slid from second to fourth in the poll after their 12-10 victory in the battle of the Tigers.  What happened to LSU’s offense?

LSU didn’t slide just because they barely beat a now 1-3 Auburn team, but rather because of two impressive victories by Oregon and Florida State.  The Ducks handily beat the then AP-ranked #22 Arizona Wildcats 49-0.  How about that Ducks defense?  FSU took on a tough Clemson team and won 49-37 in Tallahassee.  EJ Manuel was a beast!  He threw for 380 yards and ran for 102.  Clemson fell out of our Top 16 after being ranked #9 last week.

While the Ducks crushed a Wildcat team in Eugene, another Wildcat team made believers out of college football poll voters throughout the country and Leatherheads was no exception.  The Kansas State Wildcats beat Oklahoma in Oklahoma 24-19.  Last week, KSU was ranked #15 in the Top 16.  I must note that I ranked them #7 last week – so take that suckers!!  I had to throw that in there.  One of the main reasons KSU beat our previously 5th-ranked Sooners was the play of John Hubert.  The junior from Waco, Texas ran for 130 yards.  Oklahoma dropped to #16 in the Top 16.  Quoting Leatherhead Brandon Williams, “Landry Jones must be thinking twice about not turning pro….”

The Fighting Irish are now 4-0 with a 13-6 victory over Michigan.  Notre Dame didn’t win this game.  Denard Robinson and his 4 interceptions lost it for Michigan.  Robinson, who often reminds me of a superhero, was not one this week with his 69.1 QB rating and just 138 yards passing.  I expect Robinson to rebound from this performance but you can remove his name from the Heisman hopeful list.  The Irish moved up three spots to #9, largely due to the Oklahoma loss and idle weeks by Stanford and Texas.  Perhaps, I am being to harsh on Notre Dame.  Their defense did shutdown Michigan State the week before, allowing just a field goal.  Next up, the Miami Hurricanes on October 6.

Our second biggest gainer of the week was Florida.  The Gators beat the Kentucky Wildcats 38-0 in Gainesville to move from #16 to #12.  Their next game will be October 6 against LSU.  We will see what the Gators are made of in that game.  BTW, are there enough teams named Wildcats?

Entering the poll for the first time this season is the TCU Horned Frogs.  TCU beat Virgina to continue their FBS-best winning streak of 11 games.  Just missing the cut this week is Oregon State.  The Beavers are just 2-0 but have beat two AP-ranked teams in those two victories.  If they can beat the previously AP-ranked Arizona Wildcats this weekend, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them move into the poll at the expense of a loss by any of our lower ranked teams.

Rank Team Record Points  Last   Week
   1 Alabama (12)    4-0   192      1
   2 Oregon    4-0   177      3
   3 Florida State    4-0   163      4
   4 LSU    4-0   159      2
   5 Georgia    4-0   134      6 (Tie)
   6 South Carolina    4-0   124      6 (Tie)
   7 Kansas State    4-0   104     15
   8 West Virginia    3-0   102      8
   9 Notre Dame    4-0     92     12
  10 Stanford    3-0     91     10
  11 Texas    3-0     70     11
  12 Florida    4-0     67     16
  13 Ohio State    4-0     38     14
  14 USC    3-1     37     13
  15 TCU    3-0     34     NR
  16 Oklahoma    2-1     22      5

Others receiving votes
: Oregon State  – 9, Clemson – 7, Louisville – 4, Rutgers – 4, Mississippi State – 2.

Participating voters: David Boyce, Ronnie Foreman, Terry Keshner, Bob Lazzari, Dan McCloskey, Andrew McKillop, Tex Noel, Pete Sonski, Bob Swick, Brandon Williams, Joe Williams, Tony Williams.


Leatherheads Heisman Poll

Tonight the 77th Heisman Trophy winner will be announced on ESPN with five finalists waiting in the audience.  The five finalists are Wisconsin running back Montee Ball, Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, and Alabama running back Trent Richardson.

In anticipation of College Football’s most prestigious award, we here at Leatherheads of the Gridiron took it upon ourselves to pick who we think should be the Heisman winner. Our voters followed the same format as the Heisman voters: 3 points for our number one choice, 2 for our second choice and 3 for our third choice.

We had ten voters allocate their votes to nine different players.  Absent from receiving any votes is Tyrann Mathieu, the winner of this year’s Bednarik Award.  The Heisman has been given to a primarily offensive player each year except 1997 when Michigan cornerback and future Pro Football Hall of Famer Charles Woodson won.  Sorry Tyrann, we do not believe you will win the award.

Our candidates in alphabetical order are as follows:

Montee Ball
Ball is a running back for the 11-2, Rose Bowl-bound University of Wisconsin Badgers.  A junior, Ball has so far this season led the nation in total rushing yards with 1,759 and rushing touchdowns with 32.  He has also caught 20 passes with 6 receiving touchdowns.  His 230 points scored also leads the nation, 74 points more than the number two scorer Collin Klein of Kansas State.

Matt Barkley
Barkley is the quarterback for the USC Trojans.  The junior has led them to a 10-2 record and currently ranks eighth in QB rating (161.2) with 3,528 yards, a 69.1 completion percentage and 39 touchdowns (third in the nation) versus just 7 interceptions. USC is bowl ineligible so his season is complete.

Robert Griffin III
Griffin, also known as RG3, is the quarterback for the 9-3 Baylor Bears.  Griffin, a junior, leads the nation in QB rating with an impressive 192.3 rating.  He is fifth in the nation with a 72.4 completion percentage, sixth in passing yards with 3,998, fourth in TD passes with 36 while just tossing 6 interceptions.  He leads the nation in yards per passing attempt at 10.8 and has also rushed for 644 yards and 9 TDs.

LaMichael James
James is a running back for the 11-2, Rose Bowl-bound Oregon Ducks. The junior is currently fourth in the nation with 1,646 rushing yards and tied for ninth with 17 rushing touchdowns.  He has also caught 17 balls for 210 yards with a TD and has returned 14 punts, including a 58-yard touchdown against Nevada.

Case Keenum
Keenum is the throwing machine for the 12-1, Ticket City Bowl-bound Houston Cougars.  The redshirt senior QB leads the nation in passing yards with 5,099 and passing TDs with 45.  He ranks sixth with a 71.7 completion percentage, third in yards per passing attempt with 9.5 and is third in QB rating at 177.9 while throwing just 5 interceptions.

Andrew Luck
Luck is the red-shirt junior quarterback for the 11-1, Tostitos Fiesta Bowl-bound Stanford Cardinal. Luck, the 2011 Camp, Maxwell and Unitas Awards winner, has thrown for 3,170 yards with the ninth best completion percentage (70.0), fifth most passing TDs (35) and the fifth best QB rating (167.5).  He was the Heisman runner-up last season, losing out to Auburn quarterback Cam Newton.

Kellen Moore
Moore is the quarterback of the 11-1, MAACO Bowl-bound Boise State Broncos. The redshirt senior has thrown for 3,507 yards and is second in the nation with 41 TD passes.  His 177.9 QB rating ranks third and has thrown just 7 interceptions.  Moore was a Heisman finalist last season, finishing fourth in the voting.

Trent Richardson
Richardson is a junior running back for the 11-1, BCS Championship Bowl-bound Alabama Crimson Tide. The Doak Walker Award winner ranks sixth in rushing yards with 1,583 yards and fifth in rushing TDs with 20.  He has caught 27 passes for 327 yards with 3 scores and is tied for fourth in overall scoring with 138 points.

Denard Robinson
Robinson, a junior quarterback for the 10-2, Allstate Sugar Bowl-bound Michigan Wolverines is one of the most exciting players in college football.  He has passed for 2,056 yards and 18 TDs with a QB rating of 142.2 (38th) while throwing 14 interceptions.  On the ground, he has rushed for 1,163 yards and 16 TDs.

So what did our Leatherhead brethren come up with?

Drum Roll Please…

                  First  Second   Third  Total
Griffin           9 (3)   2 (1)   2 (2)    13
Richardson        3 (1)   8 (4)   2 (2)    13
Ball              9 (3)   2 (1)   0 (0)    11
Luck              3 (1)   6 (3)   1 (1)    10
Keenum            6 (2)   0 (0)   2 (2)     8
Robinson          0 (0)   2 (1)   0 (0)     2
Barkley           0 (0)   0 (0)   1 (1)     1
James             0 (0)   0 (0)   1 (1)     1
Moore             0 (0)   0 (0)   1 (1)     1


So Griffin and Richardson tie with RG3 getting more first place votes (3 to 1) while Richardson having more people voting for him, including more second place votes (4 to 1). I feel that Griffin will win tonight with Richardson finishing second. Ball and Luck will be 3 and 4, although I can not predict which order. Mathieu should be fifth.

I personally voted for Ball to win the award with Richardson second. When I think of the Heisman, running backs rank higher to me than QBs and other positions. Why? Could it be that when growing up running backs won the award from 1973 to 1983? Flutie screwed everything up with his Hail Marry pass in 1984.

Anyway, Ball has had a monster statistical season with one game left to break past Heisman winner Barry Sander’s single-season Football Bowl Subdivision touchdown record of 39 that he set during the 1988 season. Richardson is just a monster and can not wait to see him run in the NFL.

My third choice was Keenum. Why? I love those guys on perceived lessor teams that light it up with 9 TDs in a game. Timmy Chang anyone? If Houston had defeated Southern Mississippi, I probably would have had him number one. But he lost.

I could have easily voted for Griffin as my number 3. Afterall, his nickname is RG3.


Participating voters: David Boyce, Bo Carter, Ronnie Foreman, Terry Keshner, Bob Lazzari, Dan McCloskey, Tex Noel, Pete Sonski, Bob Swick, Joe Williams.