PASSING OUT THE HONORS
With the 2004 college football regular season behind us and the bowls beginning in less than a week, it's time to take a look back at the season that has come and gone. In this week's edition, we'll take a look at all eleven conferences' top players as well as each league's coach of the year.
QB: Brock Berlin (Miami) 2509 yards, 21 TDs, 5 INTs
QB: Tyler Palko (Pittsburgh) 2816 yards, 23 TDs, 7 INTs
QB: Kyle Orton (Purdue) 2809 yards, 28 TDs, 5 INTs
QB: Jason White (Oklahoma) 2961 yards, 33 TDs, 6 INTs
QB: Darrell Hackney (UAB) 2653 yards, 24 TDs, 7 INTs
QB: Omar Jacobs (Bowling Green) 3637 yards, 36 TDs, 3 INTs
QB: Alex Smith (Utah) 2624 yards, 28 TDs, 4 INTs
QB: Matt Leinart (Southern Cal) 2990 yards, 28 TDs, 6 INTs
QB: Jason Campbell (Auburn) 2511 yards, 19 TDs, 6 INTs
QB: Buck Pierce (New Mexico State) 2239 yards, 16 TDs, 5 INTs
QB: Timmy Chang (Hawaii) 3853 yards, 34 TDs, 13 INTs
ONE LAST LOOK
The five finalists for the 2004 Heisman Trophy were announced late Wednesday afternoon on ESPN. The winner will be crowned Saturday night at 7:00 PM CDT on that same network. So who's going to come out on top?
The 2004 Heisman race has to be as cluttered as any other in the history of the Trophy. There are four clear-cut front-runners, two from each of the top two teams in the country. So how does one decide? Not easily, this wrtier has concluded over the past few weeks. About five weeks ago, I said Oklahoma RB Adrian Peterson was leading. Last week, I said Peterson was still at or near the top, but USC QB Matt Leinart was gaining ground and just as deserving.
Truth be told, all four of these players - Peterson, Leinart, OU QB Jason White, and USC RB Reggie Bush - are extremely deserving and are among the best players to ever play college football. The stats all four have compiled are unbelievable, and their value to their respective teams is immeasureable. The fact that the four come from only two separate teams (and the nation's top two teams at that) is what makes this such a hard choice.
And before we come to that conclusion, let's not forget Utah QB Alex Smith, the fifth finalist. The Utes have had a remarkable season and were deserving of a BCS bowl berth. But the fact is, Smith will fall victim to the four more well-known and well-publicised nominees.
And speaking of "the four," there's no way to decide but by looking at the stats. Starting with the QBs, my vote goes to OU's Jason White over USC's Matt Leinart, for several reasons. First of all, White has thrown for five more TDs (33 to 28) this season than Leinart, and both have thrown only a half-dozen INTs. Secondly, while White has thrown the ball more than 20 times fewer than Leinart this season, the Trojan has only thrown for just 29 more total yards than White in 2004. The Sooner averages 8.4 yards per attempt, while Leinart gets less than 8 yards per attempt. Since both players' completion percentages and yards per game are basically equal, the QB nod goes to Jason White of Oklahoma.
The two RBs are extremely hard to compare. Peterson is much more of a power back, while Bush makes catches out of the backfield and returns kicks for the Trojans. To quickly solve this resolution, I believe that the player that is more deserving of this award is the one that gets more touches for his team. The more he touches the ball, the more of a benefit he is. Because Bush splits time at RB with LenDale White, Peterson comes away with the advantage. This season, Peterson touched the ball 317 times, while Bush registered just 220 touches on the campaign, including special teams. Though just a true freshman, Peterson gets the nod over Reggie Bush.
So how do you decide between the two Sooners, Peterson and White? It's tough to do because both players' performances open up more opportunities for the other. However, if Jason White was good enough to win the award last year and his stats are improved this year, how do you deny the senior the honor?
I find it hard to do. We'll see if the voters found it hard as well when the votes are released Saturday night on ESPN.
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