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November 18, 2008
Olin Buchanan's Week 12 Heisman Ballot
VOTE: Who is the front-runner for the Heisman?
History indicates otherwise.
Big victories in key Big 12 matchups have shaken up the Heisman leader board this season. Oklahoma's Sam Bradford was the top contender until he was upstaged by Texas' Colt McCoy in a 45-35 Longhorns victory. McCoy was the top contender until he was outplayed by Texas Tech's Graham Harrell is a 39-33 Red Raiders win.
Now, Bradford could reaffirm his status as the top contender if he has a big game against Texas Tech.
But if history is any indication, he wouldn't necessarily have to win.
The last time two of the top three Heisman contenders faced each other in November was 1972, when Nebraska's Johnny Rodgers and Oklahoma's Greg Pruitt were the leading candidates. Oklahoma won the game 17-14, but Rodgers won the trophy.
The same thing happened in 1967. That season, UCLA's Gary Beban and USC's O.J. Simpson finished first and second, respectively, in the voting. But USC defeated the Bruins 21-20 on a winning run by Simpson that endures as one of college football's greatest plays.
An argument could be made that Oklahoma-Texas Tech does not match the top two contenders because McCoy is rated second in many Heisman polls. But Bradford actually has more touchdowns and passing yards, so essentially he's even with McCoy.
And he could be ahead of everyone with a good game this week – win or lose.
2. QB Colt McCoy, Texas: Another game, another outstanding performance. McCoy passed for 255 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-7 victory over Kansas. He added another 78 rushing yards and a touchdown. He completed at least 70 percent of his attempts for the ninth time.
3. QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma: Like Harrell, Bradford didn't play last week. If he upstages Harrell this weekend, Bradford could take the lead in the Heisman race. He already has more touchdown passes than Harrell (38-36). And though he's thrown for about 650 fewer yards, Bradford ranks second in the country in pass efficiency – five spots ahead of Harrell – and has played better competition.
4. QB Tim Tebow, Florida: In a 56-6 victory over South Carolina, Tebow had another outing that was big on performance but modest on statistics. He accounted for three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing). Tebow has accounted for at least three TDs in each of the past five games.
5. WR Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech: Crabtree might be the best player in the nation; he's definitely the best receiver. He has 78 catches for 1,010 yards and 18 touchdowns even though he's marked by every defense Tech faces.
Olin Buchanan is a Heisman voter and a senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.