Alabama Crimson Tide running back Trent Richardson, Baylor Bears quarterback Robert Griffin III, Stanford Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck, LSU Tigers cornerback/kick returner Tyrann Mathieu Wisconsin Badgers running back Montee Ball are all headed to the Downtown Athletic Club to hopefully hear their name called as the winner of the 2011 Heisman Trophy.
That's more names than were expected. That's no consolation to some of the great college football players who won't be going to New York for the opportunity to be recognized. Those who sit among the snubbed include:
Case Keenum, Houston
It's highly likely that Keenum would have been headed to New York had he and the Houston Cougars not laid such an egg in the Conference USA Championship Game. Part of Keenum's appeal was his seemingly indestructible way of carving up defenses and leading the undefeated Cougars towards a BCS bowl. Both of those ideas were smashed when Houston lost to Southern Miss on Saturday.
Still, Keenum's numbers are ridiculous. His 5,099 passing yards were nearly 800 more than the next guy and his 45 passing TDs were the best in the nation as well. Not to mention that his TD-to-INT ratio was 45-to-5. His 383 completions were third-best in the nation
Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State
After playing hard all season and doing almost everything asked of him, an Oklahoma St. Cowboys player has to sit and watch while others vie for the title. Why does that sound so familiar?
Weeden might not have Case Keenum numbers, but his numbers are almost as impressive and he did it against much tougher competition. He completed the season with 4,328 yards and 34 touchdowns while leading the Pokes to an 11-1 record, a win over the hated Sooners, a Big 12 crown and getting within a few Harris Poll votes of playing for the National Title.
Matt Barkley, USC
If the Heisman Trophy rewarded the best player in the final month of the season, Barkley might have a serious case to be the one holding it come December. The USC Trojans signal-caller threw for 1,238 yards (8.7 per pass), 17 touchdowns and two interceptions in the final four games of the year, which included a win over Oregon.
Unfortunately for Barkley, he got off to a slow start, at least in terms of Heisman-level season statistics and an amazing finish wasn't enough to make up for it. He finished with 3,528 yards and 39 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. That TD total was third-best in the nation.
Kellen Moore, Boise State
Once the Boise St. Broncos lost to TCU, the collective national eyeballs stopped watching them, ending whatever Heisman campaign Moore was putting together. That's a shame since Moore racked up some significant numbers along the way.
He ended the season with 41 touchdown passes, second in the nation only to Keenum. He also threw for 3,507 yards and coughed up a mere seven interceptions. Moore was a Heisman finalist in 2010 with similar numbers (3,845 yards, 35 touchdowns and six interceptions).
It's hard enough for Boise to drum up national respect as a whole, let alone on a player-by-player basis.
LaMichael James, Oregon
James was a victim of Oregon's two losses, which rendered them an also-ran in the national title picture and lessened the impact his stats would have in the Heisman race (which sounds as dumb to me as it does to you).
Montee Ball ran for more yards but James did much more with less. On 222 carries, he ran for 1,646 yards and 17 touchdowns. His 7.4 YPG average is a good yard higher than Ball's. On the flip side, he ran for almost half as many touchdowns. Like Moore, James was a Heisman finalist in 2010, when he ran for 1,731 yards and scored 24 total touchdowns.