This should be one whale of a Heisman race. I mean, usually a name or two pulls away from the pack and is the odds on favorite to bring home the hardware. But who knows??
The five finalists will be suited up tonight…and all think they have a shot to bring it home. All five are playing in BCS bowls. All five have won every game this season. Three are quarterbacks….two are running backs. Four of the five will be playing in the Orange Bowl…..the de facto National Championship Game. Two of the finalists come from Helix High School in San Diego [Bush, Smith]. There is only one senior in the mix. The winner could be historic. No freshman or sophomore has ever won the award…but one of each is in the running. Only Archie Griffin has won multiple Heismans….but there is a former winner here [who can vote for himself]. You have a QB for USC here…and a QB from USC [Carson Palmer] won the Heisman two years ago. None of the candidates play East of the Mississippi River.
5TH-ALEX SMITH [QB, Utah]
WHY HE CAN WIN: Maybe the Sooner and Trojan nominees split the votes amongst themselves and Smith can sneak away with the award. He’s thrown 28 TD and only 4 INT and thrown for over 2,600 yards. He also has 563 yards rushing and 10 TD to his total. Very nice numbers. If you think that the fact that he played at Utah deters voters…remember Ty Detmer’s Heisman at BYU. And, heck, he only led the Utes to a BCS game…becoming the first non-BCS school to get into one of the big games.
WHY HE WON’T WIN: Lately, schools from non-BCS conferences tend to get a invite to the ceremony…but tend not to win. Utah really wasn’t on TV that much….so many voters never really got to see him play. Add to the fact that many of the voters have held on to their ballots…and Smith hasn’t played since before Thanksgiving. Out of sight, out of mind??
WHAT WILL HAPPEN: Smith may end up a surprising 3rd in the voting….though he may not be viewed as the 3rd best player out of the bunch. However, Smith may be the best pro prospect out of this Heisman class.
4TH-REGGIE BUSH [RB, USC]
WHY HE CAN WIN: Many people think that Bush is the best player on USC…and that will get him some votes. While his yardage isn’t enormous…he does have 15 total TD. He’s probably the best all around player in the country and can play many diverse roles for USC. Desmond Howard won the award with a similar-type game. He has a whale of a game in the USC-UCLA showdown.
WHY HE WON’T WIN: His core numbers aren’t eye-popping. Just 833 rushing yards and 6 TD….along with 478 receiving yards and 7 TD. He has thrown a TD and returned 2 TD. Also, Matt Leinart will most likely steal a ton of Bush’s votes.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN: The “Push For Bush” campaign will fall a little short…though we should see him back next year as an early favorite to take the 2005 award.
3RD-ADRIAN PETERSON [RB, Oklahoma]
WHY HE CAN WIN: He rushed for over 1,800 yards and 15 TD. But…the man…uh, kid…was the best in Oklahoma’s biggest games [OSU, Texas, Big XII title game]. That Big XII title game against Colorado is fresh on everyone’s mind…where he scored 3 TD and ran for 172 yards.
WHY HE WON’T WIN: Mainly because he is a freshman. And many voters won’t vote for him because of that. Aside from Archie Griffin’s back-to-back awards…the last time the Heisman winner came from the same college two consecutive years was Army’s Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis in 1945 and 1946 [Davis actually finished 2nd in the 1945 voting].
WHAT WILL HAPPEN: Many people will have him #1 on their ballots….and he could have the 2nd most first place votes. But, many people will shun a true freshman….believing that he will have his day in 2005 and in 2006. He’ll make a nice run…but come up short.
2ND-MATT LEINART [QB, USC]
WHY HE CAN WIN: Paging Carson Palmer. Leinart stepped up and threw for just a hair under 3,000 yards and 28 TD. He also ran for 3 TD. He's the QB for the #1 team in the Nation...and that usually accounts for a few votes. Also, he did all of this without Mike Williams and Kerry Colbert...which is quite impressive.
WHY HE WON’T WIN: He played his worst game of the season while everyone was hanging on to their ballots. Histeammate Reggie Bush outshined him and may steal some votes away. He didn't win last year's Heisman when USC was a better team than this year.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN: He may end up winning the Heisman. Coming into the ceremony...he is most likely the favorite. Though, favorites don't always win.
WINNER-JASON WHITE [QB, Oklahoma]
WHY HE CAN WIN: He put up the numbers….2,961 yards and 33 TD. Just as USC sits atop the polls because no one has knocked them off…White is atop my Heisman poll because no one has knocked him off. If you size up White to Leinart and Smith….he has about the same amount of yards as Leinart [300 more than Smith]…and more TD passes than both. He threw the same amount of picks as Leinart  and just two more than Smith. Of course, those two picks were in the Big XII title game…an extra game that Utah didn’t have to play. White also took the Maxwell award for top player of the year.
WHY HE WON’T WIN: Ty Detmer didn’t repeat….basically because we many voters don’t think he is in the realm of Archie Griffin. White isn’t the kind of player that many voters will want do put in that category either. Also, many people believe that Peterson is the reason the Sooners click….so White may lose some votes there.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN: I honestly think he brings this one home and becomes only the second person to own two Heismans. Since having both knees blown out…he’s won a Heisman, in the running for a second…and playing for a National Championship. That shows me his toughness.