News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Z_CNHI News Service

September 24, 2013

Real battle for Heisman Trophy begins

The race for the Heisman Trophy is like a political campaign. There’s jockeying for position among the pretenders and contenders and then after a few early rounds -- where the dreamers fall to the wayside -- the real battle begins.

That’s where the race to be named college football’s best player stands today. Teams are four weeks into the season and individual statistics should have been burnished by picking apart lesser competition. They now turn to about two months of conference face-offs where Saturday showdowns will become more intense and survivors live to fight another day.

Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller has missed the past two games with an ankle injury. He lost a great opportunity to pad his stat sheet when he watched OSU destroy Florida A&M, 76-0. Then there’s South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney, who needed huge numbers to stay in the discussion. But 10 total tackles in three games, only two of which were sacks, have hushed much of the early Heisman talk in Columbia.

So where do we stand? If you’re a quarterback and the pro scouts are still checking you out, you remain a front-runner. Other position players remain in contention but need some good fortune on the backstretch if they have any hope of dashing home a winner.

Then there’s this reminder from Heismanpundit.com that the trophy winner isn’t necessarily the one getting the hype in August. No early favorite has won the Heisman since 2007, it pointed out. Outside College Station, there wasn’t much talk about Johnny Manziel before the 2012 season began. Believe it or not, Florida’s Tim Tebow and Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford weren’t always established names. Same with Alabama’s Mark Ingram, Auburn’s Cam Newton and Baylor’s Robert Griffin III.

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