Heisman Trophy finalists: A tale of the tape


December 09, 2009

Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford
Stats: 311 rushes for 1,736 yards and 26 touchdowns.

Why he could win: Pound for pound, Gerhart has had the best statistical year of all the candidates. And Heisman voters love statistics. Gerhart led the Pac-10 in rushing yards and touchdowns. His 205-yard performance against Notre Dame bolstered his profile.

Why he won't: Despite Stanford's 8-4 season, the other four candidates have the luxury of playing for traditional powers. Exposure is the issue for Gerhart, who might have jumped into the race too late after playing without much buzz for the first half of the season.

Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
Stats: Completed 182 of 279 passes (65.2 percent) for 2,413 yards, 18 TDs and five interceptions; rushed for 859 yards, 13 TDs.

Why he could win: This attention-grabber with a cult following is basically a walking Heisman campaign. Tebow's career will be in the minds of voters whether he's deserving or not.

Why he won't: It's hard to justify calling the nation's 49th-ranked quarterback in passing yardage a Heisman winner. Tebow had arguably his worst season as a three-year starter. Tebow had nine more TDs at this point last season and still lost. His performance probably doesn't warrant Archie Griffin company as a two-time winner.

Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Stats: 249 rushes for 1,542 yards and 15 touchdowns; 30 receptions for 322 yards and three TDs.

Why he could win: Dominated the Southeastern Conference championship game with 189 total yards on the most crucial day of the season while Tebow and Colt McCoy struggled. Some voters might be ready to give tradition-rich Alabama a Heisman. He refused to let Alabama lose all year by constantly making clutch plays.

Why he won't: Could have used a couple more touchdowns and a couple more yards to seal the deal. Heisman-winning running backs need eye-popping stats to beat quarterbacks, and Ingram's are good but not great. That 30-yard performance on 16 carries vs. Auburn probably hurt.

Colt McCoy, QB, Texas
Stats: Completed 330 of 468 passes (70.5 percent) for 3,512 yards, 27 TDs and 12 interceptions; rushed for 348 yards and three scores.

Why he could win: He's the sentimental pick after losing out on the Heisman and the national title last year. McCoy has won 45 games as a starter, more than any in Division-I history. Some voters might consider this a lifetime achievement award, and his stats are just good enough.

Why he won't: Seemed to regress while leading a struggling offense with too many interceptions and a lack of big plays. His erratic performance against Nebraska in the Big 12 title game was not the lasting memory he wanted to leave for voters. He had an opportunity to separate himself from the pack but didn't.

Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
Stats: 82 tackles, 12 sacks, one interception.

Why he could win: Suh's probably the most dominating player in the entire race, and he had his best game - a 12-tackle, four-sack performance against Texas - at the perfect time on the national stage of the Big 12 title game. Heck, he's the biggest reason Nebraska actually had a chance at the title. The most feared player in the lineup.

Why he won't: Defensive linemen have too steep of a disadvantage going in. The last tackle invited to New York was Warren Sapp in 1994. Michigan's Charles Woodson, the only defensive player to win a Heisman, benefited from eight interceptions while also returning punts and playing wide receiver on offense in 1997.

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