Southern Cal's Reggie Bush, averaging a stunning 8.6 yards per carry to go with 244 receiving yards, is on the verge of running away with the Heisman Trophy.
Before dusting off yet another spot for a Heisman at USC (Matt Leinart, Carson Palmer, Marcus Allen, Charles White, disgraced, hot-
tempered lowlife O.J. Simpson, Mike Garrett), consider the case of a quarterback not named Leinart.
Vince Young? No. At this rate, Missouri's Brad Smith and Texas A&M;'s Reggie McNeal are pushing Young for first-team All-Big 12 Conference honors. They won't catch him, but they're pushing him.
Try Notre Dame junior Brady Quinn, who must be happier even than the most rabid of Domers at the hiring of Charlie Weis. Quinn lit up Brigham Young with six touchdown passes and 467 yards. For the season, he has thrown a school-record 20 touchdown passes and has been intercepted four times. Notre Dame plays a tough schedule, and Quinn doesn't have as much talent around him as either Leinart or Young.
Notre Dame has the most Heisman Trophy winners (seven), but hasn't had one since Tim Brown took it home in 1987.
Joe Theismann didn't win it, though not for lack of effort from former Notre Dame sports-information director Roger Valdiserri. With the Heisman in mind, Valdiserri told Theismann as a freshman that his last name no longer was pronounced Theesman, rather now was pronounced to rhyme with the trophy.
Maybe Quinn needs a gimmick to get the attention he deserves in the Heisman race. Maybe he needs a slogan. That's it, a slogan. How about: Don't sin, vote for Quinn.
Anybody remember where I put that drawing board?
This week's Big 12 picks:
Missouri 21, Kansas 20: Smith rushed for 246 yards and passed for 234 in last week's 41-24 drilling of Nebraska, so he's coming into the game on his best roll ever. Yet, the Jayhawks have neutralized him the past two years. Can the emotion of the rivalry enable them to do it again? KU's linebackers are terrific and will need to be to contain Smith. Even if they do keep him well below his typical performance, nothing suggests the Jayhawks will be able to exploit the Tigers' mediocre defense.
Texas 59, Oklahoma State 9: The Longhorns moved past USC into the No. 1 spot in the BCS poll, making themselves even bigger targets. No matter, the Cowboys aren't capable of hitting a target of any size in the Big 12. The same can be said for their quarterback, Al Pena, who threw four interceptions last week. This matchup pits the best of the Big 12 against the worst.
Texas Tech 35, Baylor 23: The Red Raiders made it to the Top 10 for the first time in 28 years and then showed they didn't belong, getting pounded by Texas, 52-17, last week. Baylor, coming off its second overtime loss in Big 12 play, has lost the last nine times it has played Texas Tech. Even while getting blown out, Tech quarterback Cody Hodges threw for 369 yards. Defending the pass is what Baylor does best, which makes for an interesting game. The Bears are competitive, just not talented enough yet to win a game against a Top 25 opponent.
Nebraska 24, Oklahoma 23: The sizzle is dead. Long live the sizzle. Neither team is easy to watch, which says something for a pair of programs that have been a blast to watch on Saturday afternoons through the decades. Now? Dull and duller. For years, Nebraska got so much mileage out of speedy backs running behind corn-fed linemen. Now, the running game is the short-passing game, and it's as if the Cornhuskers are ashamed to run the ball. They carried the ball only 19 times for negative-two yards last week in a loss to Missouri. Strange. Oklahoma, meanwhile, is struggling with freshman Rhett Bomar (four touchdown passes, seven interceptions) at quarterback and tailback Adrian Peterson (4.3 yards per carry) slowed by an ankle injury. The atmosphere at Tom Osborne Field still will be worthy of this rivalry, and it should be close, but the quality of play?
Texas A&M; 35, Iowa State 10: Tailback Stevie Hicks' ribs are feeling better, which is good news for Iowa State. The bad news? The Cyclones still don't have a great deal of zip offensively. So-so quarterback Bret Meyer does have a reliable target in Todd Blythe (16.5 yards per catch). McNeal receives credit for being a dual threat, but not enough for taking care of the ball. With McNeal leading the team in passing and rushing yards, the Aggies have turned the ball over just 10 times. The best way to try to beat the Aggies is through the air, and in Meyer the Cyclones don't have the man who can do that.
Colorado 31, Kansas State 28: This is an uncharacteristically sloppy Bill Snyder team. The SourCats have committed 19 turnovers. It's also an atypical Snyder team in the talent department. Could it be Mark Mangino is making enough inroads in the area of recruiting in-state athletes that it's subtly eating away at K-State's talent base?