2010 Heisman Trophy Threat Level Watch: Denard Robinson, Terrelle Pryor Enter Code Red

Assessing the viability and liabilities of a deep pool of candidates for the 2010 Heisman Trophy. This week: A modicum of separation at the top, and a potential Big Ten hardware battle looming at year's end.

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RED

Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan
Last week we told Denard Robinson to "do it again 11 more times." He's well on his way, and although we didn't mean he had to work in 11 games' worth of running-and-gunning into one weekend, Robinson gave it the old college try: Over 500 (FIVE HUNDRED) yards of offense, split neatly between passing and running, against a high-profile outfit at Notre Dame. He's got the stats. He's got the hype. And he's got fantastic hair. A better coming-out party could not have been scripted by the tiny, elfin hands of Mitch Albom himself.

Terrelle Pryor, QB, Ohio State
As we pointedly did not predict last week, came out far ahead of Jacory Harris in Week 2's premier quarterbacks duel, despite spotty play, on account of not throwing eleventeen interceptions on national television against a ranked defense. In a year where hands are ceaselessly wringing over the  future of the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry, wouldn't it be something if it came down to a Buckeye and a Wolverine for the fancy hardware?

ORANGE

Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State
For a team counting on momentum to vault them to BCS glory where various and sundry undefeated seasons have failed to do so, a Week 2 bye may have been a terrible idea. (Then again, maybe not.) Heisman voters are, if anything, even more hidebound and hype-susceptible than poll voters, so Moore's going to have to make the Broncos' Sept. 25 date with No. 25 Oregon State count for quite a bit. (And then hope the Beavers don't get mown down by inferior competition a week later.)

Jake Locker, QB, Washington
Still high on the list by virtue of locking very quarterbackish, and helping his case by acting like it this week, Locker threw for close to 300 yards and four touchdown passes in Washington's slow-starting victory over Syracuse.

Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
Has proven himself very adept thus far at attempting high numbers of passes (43) and completing them for high yardage (400) against terribly overmatched competition (Louisiana-Monroe), and had better enjoy these halcyon days while he can: The Hawgs travel to Georgia in Week 3, and if last week's outing is any indication, they will pose no threat, but Mallett will need one hell of a tuneup game to put on a fireworks show against Alabama in Week 4.

YELLOW

Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
More than doubled his carries and ground output from Week 1 against San Jose State to Week 2 vs. Penn State, and it paid dividends for the Tide: The former Ingram backup's 144 yards accounted for more than a third of Alabama's offensive output. The looming return of the reigning Heisman winner, however, may dim his star more than a little.

Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Had a 150-yard outing but a poor completion percentage against UCLA. Wake Forest next week should boost his numbers nicely.

GREEN

Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State
Had a bad day on his own merits and received absolutely no help from a miserable Seminoles team, who were busy getting utterly thrashed by Oklahoma.

Andy Dalton, QB, TCU
Is putting up good numbers, but wasn't the show pony in Week 2, as the Horned Frogs gained 270 ground yards against Tennessee Tech.

Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State

Rushed for 157 yards on Saturday ... and the 'Pokes almost lost to Troy. This is bound to be a miserable year for Oklahoma State, and it'll take some highly dramatic footwork for Hunter's candidacy to take off.

Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon
Almost a nonentity against Tennessee, thanks entirely to the return of ...

LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
Has there ever been a successful Heisman campaign mounted on the strength of a single early-season play? Because this run through the entire Tennessee defense might do it. Oregon is very, very good this year, and its offense is a killing machine that will give many parts a chance to shine. James' one-game suspension to open the season may not have damaged his speed at all, but a trophy candidate with a domestic abuse rap may not sit well with voters.

Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Threw for a nice, round 200 yards against Virginia, but seems likely to get lost in a shuffle of older candidates barring some truly heroic play. Being of USC, however, he'll get his chance eventually.

Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Will have to have at least several more showpiece games like he had against UNC in Week 1 to attract voters' attention from the cheap seats of defense and kick returns.

Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
Is extremely large, fast, and hard to tackle, if Thursday's outing against Mississippi State is any indication. Will get a real spotlight chance in Week 3 when GameDay comes to town for the Auburn-Clemson tilt.

BLUE

Jacory Harris, QB, Miami
Oh, Jacory Harris. We love just about everything about you, including these overalls. 232 passing yards against the No. 2 team in the nation is a very nice number. Those four interceptions, however, are a no-no with consequences.

Case Keenum, QB, Houston
We will confess a marked affection for mid-major quarterbacks and their pinball numbers, but Keenum sustained a concussion in Houston's Friday night revenge mauling of UTEP and is listed as day-to-day. That glowing stats column is bound to suffer as a result.

Daniel Thomas, RB, Kansas State
Up close to 400 rushing yards after just two games, and has some very big dates coming up (like, say, Nebraska) in which to make his case.

Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State
Another unfortunate victim of a Week 2 bye. Look for his stock to rise next week when the Beavers feast on Louisville, or not at all.

Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Football-Weekend.

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