This week: With December within shouting distance, it's time to narrow the field of Heisman Trophy hopefuls to a respectable ten candidates. And just what are voters supposed to do about Cam Newton? All that and more in today's Heisman Trophy Threat Levels.
Cam "Cameron" Newton, QB, Auburn
We said last week that the 2010 Heisman Trophy was Newton's to lose, and events since have made it likelier (not likely, but likelier) that he'll do just that. The Tigers played Chattanooga in Week 10 and Newton turned in a predictably boffo performance, so let's jump right to the off-field issues: The investigation into circumstances surrounding his recruitment out of junior college, and now the allegations of academic improprieties while Newton still played for Florida.
For the record, count me in the camp of those who hold that if Newton was indeed being shopped around by unscrupulous parties without his knowledge, it shouldn't be held against him in the Heisman vote. But this new story out of Gainesville couldn't possibly have come at a worse time for his hardware hopes.
Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State
Moore doubled his 2010 interception total in Saturday's game against Hawaii, by which we mean "Kellen Moore threw two interceptions." Kellen Moore is very, very good at quarterbacking. One key question here is whether his fate with Heisman voters (and Andy Dalton's) will be tied to the respective prestige of their team's projected bowl bids.
LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
121 yards against Washington marks James' second-lowest output in a game this season, but he was responsible for three of the Ducks' touchdowns. With all the hoopla surrounding Newton and candidate-come-lately Justin Blackmon's DUI arrest, James' one-game suspension at the season's outset seems all but forgotten.
Andy Dalton, QB, TCU
There are statement games, and then there's what Andy Dalton did to Utah Saturday afternoon, lighting up a top-five team with a blistering 355 yards through the air (on just 21 completions of 26 attempts). Message received.
Terrelle Pryor, QB, Ohio State
Put on a solid if unspectacular performance against a dismal Minnesota team in Week 10, with 222 passing yards, 55 rushing yards, a touchdown, and an interception. The Ohio State-Michigan game is shaping up to be quite the quarterbacks' duel this year, no?
Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Luck had a great game against a highly-esteemed Arizona outfit, with close to 300 passing yards and two touchdowns. His only downfall lately has been his misfortune to play in the same conference as Oregon.
Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan
It's tough being the only player on a I-A football team. Robinson was re-re-reinjured in Saturday's barn-burner against Illinois and put on the bench with a concussion, but not before he put up 300 yards' worth of damage through the air and 62 more on the ground. The knock to the head and his two costly interceptions may hog the headlines, however.
Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
Very nicely done for young master Mallett in Week 10: Against the alleged best of the SEC East, the overly-scaled quarterback threw for over 300 yards, completing 70% of his passes, with one passing touchdown, one rushing touchdown, and one interception.
Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada
Remains decidedly a non-frontrunner, but will surely garner at least a few votes from statheads who like to see lines like the Angry Ostrich put up on Idaho: 322 yards. Five touchdowns. Zero picks.
Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Isn't having anything close to resembling another Heisman-winning season, but will scrape together a few nostalgia points, surely.
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, Robert Griffin