If the 2011 Heisman Trophy is going to follow the recent pattern of "best offensiver player X on national title contender Y wins," it seems clear that there is one player who is far and away the leader in the 2011 Heisman race: Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden.
Weeden triggers an explosive Oklahoma State offense that has the Cowboys at 10-0 on the season, and threw for 423 yards and five touchdowns in a 66-6 obliteration of Texas Tech on Saturday. He's thrown for 3,635 yards on the season, has 31 touchdowns and nine interceptions, and is the likely Heisman front-runner both because he's the best player on his team and because LSU does not have a comparable offensive talent.
Weeden's age — he turned 28 in October, and is only playing college football now because of a failed stint in minor league baseball — and system, a variant on Mike Leach's Air Raid, may both work against him. But he's certainly the best candidate for the "best player, best team" criterion that has been key in selecting the last three Heisman winners, and he has one fewer loss than Andrew Luck in 2011.
The other notable number-tallying quarterback in the race, Houston's Case Keenum, probably had his stock go up with losses by Luck and Boise State's Kellen Moore in Week 11. Keenum, who has thrown for 3,951 yards and 37 touchdowns against just three interceptions, now has Houston at 10-0, and may break 5,000 yards and threaten 50 touchdowns in 2011.
The Cougars will not play for a BCS title, which hurts Keenum's chances, but they appear poised to earn their first-ever BCS bowl berth, and that might improve Keenum's hopes of at least heading to New York to take part in the Heisman ceremony. Having one fewer loss than the other major mid-major quarterback, Moore, will certainly boost Keenum's campaign.
For further reading, news, discussion and more, visit Oklahoma State blog Cowboys Ride For Free.