October 17, 2010

Wild day for QBs shakes up Heisman race

NEW YORK (AP) Good thing the Heisman Trophy isn't given out until December.

In just a few hours on another topsy-turvy Saturday in college football, just about everyone whose name has been mentioned in the same breadth with the famous bronze statue saw his stock go soaring or sinking, often along with his team's fortunes.

Taylor Martinez and Denard Robinson scampered onto the Heisman scene with their electrifying ability to run, but both quarterbacks were standing still on the sidelines as their teams fell. Martinez was ineffective in No. 5 Nebraska's 20-13 loss to Texas, while Robinson got hurt during the third quarter and didn't return to Michigan's 38-28 loss to No. 15 Iowa.

Ryan Mallett could commiserate. The gunslinger sustained a concussion in the first half of No. 12 Arkansas' 65-43 loss to seventh-ranked Auburn, and was gone long before it was decided.

"It was just a normal hit you put on every quarterback," said the Tigers' Nick Fairley, who delivered the blow. "No different than any other one."

While that trio of quarterbacks watched their hardware hopes plunge from the sidelines, Ohio State's Terrell Pryor was still playing at the bitter end against No. 18 Wisconsin.

Among the front-runners even before the season, Pryor was just 14 of 28 for 156 yards passing and ran for 56 yards against the Badgers. His interception in the closing minutes sealed the top-ranked Buckeyes' 31-18 loss at Camp Randall Stadium.

In fact, just about the only quarterback whose stock went the right direction on Shake-up Saturday was Cameron Newton, the 6-foot-6, 250-pound quarterback for Auburn.

He ran for 188 yards, threw for 140 and accounted for four touchdowns against Arkansas, helping the Tigers (7-0) to their best start since going undefeated in 2004. And he'll get another big stage next weekend, when the Tigers take on No. 9 LSU in an SEC showdown.

"I don't have an opportunity to watch everybody in America," Auburn coach Gene Chizik said, "but No. 2 is one spectacular football player."

So is Boise State's Kellen Moore, who didn't hurt his Heisman hopes, either.

Moore completed 14 of 16 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns before putting on a cap and headset to signal plays in the second half of a 48-0 romp over San Jose State. It's the kind of spotless performance he'll need every week if No. 3 Boise State wants to keep alive its BCS title hopes - and Moore his Heisman chances - against a weak WAC schedule.

Still, the news Saturday mostly centered on those who didn't get it done.

Perhaps the biggest pratfall came from Martinez, who had the fifth-ranked Huskers riding high after a 48-13 rout of Kansas State. He ran for 241 yards and threw for another 128 in that game, accounting for five touchdowns and making national headlines.

But the Longhorns flustered the freshman for the first time, pressuring him from the start, silencing the crowd and hassling his receivers into dropping several passes. Martinez managed a season-low 21 yards on 13 carries before being pulled for Zac Lee in the third quarter.

"We didn't execute. Our reads weren't good. We had a couple of touchdowns we should have had with Martinez, with dropped balls," coach Bo Pelini said. "We weren't pointing the finger at Taylor when we made the change, we just felt like we needed a spark."

Robinson was banged up for the second time this season, leaving with a shoulder injury after Iowa linebacker Tyler Nielsen tackled him in the third quarter at the Big House. Robinson had thrown for 96 yards with an interception and ran for 105 yards when he left the game, a second consecutive forgettable effort after five scorching performances to start the season.

"He just landed on it funny," said coach Rich Rodriguez, whose Wolverines get a week off before visiting Penn State on Oct. 30. "He should be good to go for the next game."

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AP Sports Writers Eric Olson in Lincoln, Neb., Paul Newberry in Auburn, Ala., and Larry Lage in Ann Arbor, Mich., contributed to this report.



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