September 16, 2008

Olin Buchanan's Week 3 Heisman ballot

VOTE: Who took the early lead in the Heisman race?

So what are you looking for in a Heisman Trophy candidate that USC quarterback Mark Sanchez doesn't provide?

Leading the top-ranked team in the country? Check.

Starring in a victory over a highly ranked opponent? Check.

Posting impressive statistics? Check.

Playing well but unsatisfied? Check.

Even after throwing four touchdown passes in the Trojans' 35-3 thrashing of Ohio State, Sanchez was tough on himself. "There are still some plays I want back," he said. "We were well-prepared, but you want to be perfect."

Sanchez wasn't perfect. He threw an interception and 11 of his 28 passes fell incomplete, although there were a few drops. Still, he played more than well enough to stay on top of the quarterback-heavy Heisman race.

About the only thing Sanchez hasn't accomplished to gain Heisman credibility is leading the Trojans to a come-from-behind victory in the second half. But they're so good he might not get that opportunity.

Of course, Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel, Oklahoma's Sam Bradford and BYU's Max Hall should be able to relate to that.

1. USC QB Mark Sanchez: Go ahead and crack on Ohio State, but that's a good defensive team. I was there to see Sanchez throw four touchdown passes against the Buckeyes. He has completed 68.3 percent of his passes, with seven touchdowns and two interceptions.

2. Missouri QB Chase Daniel: If his strong performance in the season-opening victory over Illinois wasn't enough, he has followed that up with impressive showings against lesser competition. In blowout victories against Southeast Missouri and Nevada, Daniel was 39 of 45 (87 percent) for 650 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions. He ranks among the top 10 in passing efficiency (fourth), passing yards (sixth) and passing yards per game (seventh).

3. Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford: Other than Cincinnati, his competition hasn't been that great, but he's completing 79 percent of his passes and OU doesn't have a dink-and-dunk offense. Five of his 12 touchdown passes have covered at least 20 yards. He ranks second in the nation in passing efficiency and has exceeded 300 yards in each of the Sooners' past two games.

4. BYU QB Max Hall: He rockets into the Heisman discussion after throwing seven touchdown passes last week against UCLA and he did it in less than three quarters of play. Remember, UCLA beat Tennessee. Hall has completed at least 73 percent of his attempts in every game thus far. He also ranks among the top 10 in four national passing categories. The Cougars are 3-0 and ranked 14th. Think they'd be there without Hall?

5. Michigan State RB Javon Ringer: Coming off a 282-yard outburst against Florida Atlantic, Ringer now is third in the nation in rushing with 498 yards. He also leads the nation with nine touchdowns. He's feasted on inferior competition, but also had a solid game (81 yards, two touchdowns) in a season-opening loss to California.

VOTE: Who took the early lead in the Heisman race?

Olin Buchanan is a Heisman voter and a senior college football writer for He can be reached at

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