It's hard not to bump up your stock for the 2011 Heisman Trophy in a win. The field is so wide open that any player who plays well in a prominent game is likely to enter the Heisman conversation. But Robert Griffin III may have put on the year's most spectacular performance against Oklahoma on Saturday night.
Griffin was both statistically dominant — 479 passing yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions, plus 72 yards on the ground to lead Baylor — and dramatically valiant, leading a game-winning touchdown drive with less than a minute to play and finding Terrence Williams on a superb cross-body pass for the touchdown to cap it and help Baylor upset Oklahoma, 45-38. That's the sort of performance that makes voters sit up and take notice, and it adds to a tremendous statistical resume for Griffin that could get him to New York City and/or the podium at the Heisman Trophy ceremony at year's end, despite Baylor's less impressive profile.
Other players are fighting their teams' perceptions, too. Montee Ball is sort of the running back equivalent of a system quarterback, racking up yardage and touchdowns in an offense tailored to letting him do just that. Ball is second nationally with 1,466 rushing yards, just two fewer than Western Kentucky's Bobby Rainey, and he has a staggering 30 total touchdowns, 25 of them on the ground. But with Wisconsin likely to remain outside the top 10 of the college football rankings unless the Badgers can win the Big Ten, Ball may be on the outside looking in when it comes to the Heisman.
USC's Matt Barkley is in a similar boat. His Trojans aren't eligible for a bowl game thanks to NCAA sanctions, but he's been brilliant for them, especially lately. Barkley's averaging nearly 300 yards per game through the air, and has thrown for 33 touchdowns, including 11 in three November games and four in USC's upset of Oregon last weekend. If he is invited to New York City, it will be testament to the Heisman voters' ability to look past a team to a great player on it.