Heisman Trophy Watch 2010: Cam Newton Investigation Could Open Door For Kellen Moore

BOISE ID - SEPTEMBER 25: Quarterback Kellen Moore #11 of the Boise State Broncos looks for a handoff against the Oregon State Beavers at Bronco Stadium on September 25 2010 in Boise Idaho. (Photo by Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images)

Examining the 2010 Heisman Trophy race, ordering the potential candidates by threat level. This week: Character questions dog two leading candidates, while mid-major candidates Kellen Moore and Andy Dalton begin to seem less adorable and more menacing.

With the Cam Newton investigation still swirling and at least two mid-major candidates threatening to overtake those from more storied programs, the 2010 Heisman Trophy Race is in a state of late-season disarray. All that and more in today's Heisman Trophy Threat Levels.

RED

Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State
So the central question in the 2010 Heisman Trophy race now concerns whether Cam Newton will be tagged as a character risk by voters. And if he's a character risk, is LaMichael James? And does that constitute a perfect storm for a speedy, near-perfect passer from a non-AQ conference to slide into the top spot? Moore's 216 yards and three touchdowns pale in comparison to his 507 against Hawaii, but when 216 yards is an off day, value judgments look sort of silly. And unlike his mid-major compatriot Andy Dalton, he's got three more weeks and one more ranked opponent with which to make his case.

Cam "Cameron" Newton, QB, Auburn
Byes near the end of the season can be dangerous for tight hardware races, but a week away from the spotlight (sort of) may be just what Newton's candidacy needs. Nobody knows with any sort of certainty what the eligibility investigation will do to his Heisman Trophy chances, but lying low and then busting loose in the Iron Bowl will give him his best shot at the metal stiffarm.

LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
This was James' lowest-caliber game all season, unless you count his Week-1 suspension, and he came out of it injured, to make matters worse. Luckily for the Ducks, he's got a bye week to rest, and his ankle problem will reportedly not prevent him from starting in Week 12 against No. 22 Arizona, Oregon's last significant regular-season hurdle.

ORANGE

Andy Dalton, QB, TCU
TCU's obliteration of Utah doesn't look nearly so impressive now that Notre Dame's been able to do the same thing, but Dalton remains a strong candidate, throwing for 240 yards and matching his season high of four touchdown passes in a close game against one of mid-majordom's stronger squads, San Diego State.

Terrelle Pryor, QB, Ohio State
Put on only his third sub-200-yard game of the season against Penn State, with just 13 pass attempts, 139 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. His 49 rushing yards were nothing special. Iowa could give him some trouble, but look for a major numbers boost against Michigan's nonexistent secondary in Week 13.

YELLOW

Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Not a grand outing for young master Luck against the strangely pesky Sun Devils. He neared the 300-yard mark through the air, but threw a pick and no touchdowns. It's Luck's first game without a scoring pass in 2010.

Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan
Denard Robinson has done exactly what he's been predicted to do since about Week 4, when the astonishment of his prowess was wearing off and dark predictions that he'd wear out thanks to being Michigan's only potent weapon on either side of the ball were setting in. Robinson can boost his stock back to the stratosphere, but it'll take stellar performances against the mighty Ds of Wisconsin and Ohio State to do so.

GREEN

Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
Of all the weeks for college football's most notable Ent to have a low-octane night, facing UTEP in November has to be among the most disadvantageous. Mallett's 26 completions and 73.1% accuracy will be overshadowed by the stat line that says he "only" put up 215 passing yards in a rout of the Miners.

BLUE

Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada
It is our favorite active college football player's chronological misfortune to be a senior with a loaded offense playing at the same time as the more-ballyhooed Kellen Moore and Andy Dalton. Kaepernick's third-lowest aerial output of the season, 171 passing yards against Fresno State, was coupled with his second-highest rushing output of 2010: 153 yards and two touchdowns.

Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Hasn't had a 100-yard game since September's outing against Arkanasas, and didn't even come close this week, netting only 53 yards in the Tide's victory over Mississippi State. Somewhere, somebody will still vote for him because he's already won once.

COME AND GONE

Daniel Thomas, Christian Ponder, Trent Richardson, Patrick Peterson, Jacory Harris, DeMarco Murray, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, John Clay, Matt Barkley, Justin Blackmon, Nick Fairley, Marcus Lattimore, Jacquizz Rodgers, Taylor Martinez, Kendall Hunter, Tyrod Taylor, Robert Griffin

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