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Does Mike Leach's latest prolific QB have a Heisman shot?

Washington State's Luke Falk has been putting up silly numbers. But that hasn't helped Leach's QBs before.

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The Heisman of the Week is a totally serious column in which we dissect the performances of literally thousands of college football players to tell you which ones deserve the Heisman Trophy mostly based on just this last week of competition ... and which players are actually setting themselves up for contention for the thing (they're not always the same).

Heisman of the Week: Luke Falk, Washington State

In five games against power conference competition this year, Luke Falk has completed 72.4 percent of his passes for 2,293 yards, 22 touchdowns and three interceptions. He's averaging 458.6 yards and 4.4 touchdowns per game against the big boys, which makes his 514-yard, five-touchdown immolation of Arizona last Saturday not all that surprising.

Falk's been incredible over the last three weeks, throwing for 1,426 yards and 16 touchdowns. There's no earthly way he could keep that up, really, but that extrapolates to 6,179 yards and 69 TDs for a 13-game season, numbers that would break both FBS single-season records.

Heisman Hopeful of the Week: Christian McCaffrey, Stanford

Stanford's emerging star had another fine game one week after being named our Heisman of the Week, adding 109 rushing yards, 112 receiving yards, and 79 yards on three kick returns to his swelling season totals. And topping the century mark in both rushing and receiving is something neither Reggie Bush nor Barry Sanders ever did.

But now we've got to start evaluating McCaffrey's candidacy against players like Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook. And while McCaffrey's averaging a fantastic 7.1 yards per touch on offense and 176.7 yards from scrimmage per game, he's 1.5 yards per touch behind Cook in the former stat, and about 25 yards per game back of Fournette (on pace to break the FBS record in a 14-game season) in the latter.

Can McCaffrey's contributions on special teams help negate some of that? Sure. He's definitely going to win most arguments about versatility, though Fournette/Cook boosters will (rightly) note that their teams have players better suited to return kicks, and that Stanford's lack of other talent for the position shouldn't be held against them.

But he's got to overcome the old East Coast biases, too, and he may not play in a single game that kicks off before 7 p.m. ET for the rest of the year. It's an uphill road for McCaffrey to even get to New York, and the more of it that he travels with his own feet, the better.

Ha-Hasman of the Week: Phillip Ely, Toledo

Ely's first half against UMass: 14-for-28, 157 yards, one touchdown, three interceptions. Ely's second half against UMass: 12-for-19, 198 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions.

And he led Toledo back from a 28-10 halftime deficit to a 51-35 victory, saving the undefeated Rockets' hopes for a New Year's Day bowl.

He Can't Win The Heisman of the Week: Luke Falk, Washington State

Remember that guy from the beginning of this column? He's not a Heisman candidate. Not really.

Last week, I wrote about quarterbacks Trevone Boykin and Seth Russell, and noted that both feel more like challengers to Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook than front-runners. Boykin was off this weekend, and Russell was much less impressive than his Big 12 counterparts against Iowa State. He threw for 197 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception on 43.2 percent passing at home against the Cyclones, a far cry from Boykin's 436 yards passing, brilliant 84.4 percent completion rate and five total touchdowns in Ames on Oct. 17. Worse still, Russell broke a bone in his neck.

So Boykin can feel like he has the upper hand in the race to be the nation's most prominent quarterback in the Heisman race ... but he's still well behind Fournette in the Heisman Trophy odds.

Falk, meanwhile, hasn't been listed on those odds at any point this year.

Most likely that's a reflection of Falk being a Mike Leach quarterback. The only one of his pupils to ever make the top five in Heisman voting was Graham Harrell, who was a distant fourth in 2008 behind the triumvirate of Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow. Harrell didn't even get invited to New York for the presentation. Kliff Kingsbury threw for 5,000 yards for the first time in the 21st century and finished ninth. B.J. Symons set the FBS record and finished 10th.

Leach QBs are seen as system passers, basically, and it hasn't helped that Leach's teams have won 10 games just once. (Harrell, of course, led that team.) If Falk can maintain his seemingly unsustainable play of the last three weeks and somehow pilot Washington State to 10 wins and a Pac-12 Championship Game berth, maybe he gets a ticket to New York. If that doesn't happen, though, he's not sniffing anything but a few Western writers' ballots.


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