Home    News    Scoreboard    Top 25 Scores    Schedule    Stats    Injuries    Conferences
Heisman Showdown

Scott Haynes, College Football Senior Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - There are still a couple of weeks left in the 2008 college football season and with it, the Heisman Trophy remains up for grabs. The list of candidates has dwindled down significantly over the last month or so and there is one matchup this week that should, for all intents and purposes, settle the issue of just who will take home college football's most prestigious individual award.

Sure, Texas' Colt McCoy, Florida's Tim Tebow and Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree are all having great seasons and are certainly worthy of being finalists for the Heisman, but the trophy itself should go to one of the talented gunslingers that take the field in Norman this Saturday night.

Graham Harrell has put up eye-popping numbers ever since taking the field for Texas Tech.
The Red Raiders can clinch the Big 12 South Division with a victory over Oklahoma this weekend and if they do so, senior QB Graham Harrell will be a big reason why. The 6-3 quarterback has put up eye-popping numbers ever since taking the field for Texas Tech and has been pouring it on since rallying the Red Raiders from a 31-point third-quarter deficit to lead his team to victory over Minnesota in the 2006 Insight Bowl (44-41 OT).

Harrell has put up monster numbers over the last three seasons, throwing for 4,555 yards and 38 TDs in 2006, 5,705 yards and 48 scores in 2007 and has already thrown for 4,077 yards and 36 TDs this season. Of course, there is a potential four games left on the docket for Texas Tech (two regular season, the Big 12 Championship, and a bowl game), so his numbers could certainly rival his 2007 campaign.

The big difference between this year and last is the fact that he has shed the label of being a "system" quarterback and has shown all the qualities of being a true pro prospect. He has good size and above-average arm strength with the ability to make all the necessary throws. However, more important than that, Harrell has demonstrated his leadership qualities, which rival any signal-caller in the nation. His comeback drive against Texas in early October thrust him into the Heisman race as more than just a candidate and the "Harrell-Express" has been gaining steam ever since. If he can shred a good Oklahoma defense like he has the rest of the competition, while leading his team to a Big 12 title and subsequent BCS Championship appearance, it would be a travesty to take the Heisman away from him.

Of course, there is a quarterback on the other side of the field in Norman this weekend that could have something to say about that. Third-year sophomore Sam Bradford is destined to have a bright future in the NFL and could leave the Sooners after this year if he wants. In his brief career with Oklahoma, the 6-4 220-pounder has really stood out as one of the nation's premier signal-callers. As a freshman, he finished with a stellar 176.52 passer rating, throwing for 3,121 yards, with 36 TDs and just eight interceptions. His second season has been even better, as he has thrown for 3,406 yards with 38 TDs and a mere six picks. The scary thing is that Bradford is also just hitting his stride, throwing for 20 TDs in the last five games.
Sam Bradford is destined to have a bright future in the NFL.

The Sooners do have the one loss on the season to Texas, but that wasn't Bradford's fault, as he threw for 387 yards and five TDs against the Longhorns.

The likelihood is that both players thrive in this matchup and put up big numbers. Expect a shootout and an emotional game with momentum swings on both sides of the football.

If Texas Tech prevails and Harrell is instrumental in that, it would be awfully hard to take the Heisman away from him. If the Sooners get the victory and bring a halt to the Red Raiders' pillaging of the competition and derail Tech's national title bid, Bradford will be the man to beat.

Last year's Heisman winner Tim Tebow will get consideration, especially with his performance of late, as he has been responsible for 22 TDs in the last five games, all impressive wins by the Gators. And if Florida runs the table and wins the SEC, votes may come for the Gator gunslinger. Texas' McCoy is in the same boat, as his remarkable season could land the Longhorns in the Big 12 Championship, with some help from the Sooners this weekend.

Crabtree is the only non-quarterback that should garner serious attention, but while he is probably the most pro ready prospect and a phenomenal football player, he is fighting against history, as there have been only two wide receivers to win the award (Tim Brown and Desmond Howard) and it hasn't happened since 1991 (Howard).

The smart money is on one either Harrell or Bradford winning the award. This weekend in Norman could very well settle the debate.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Scott Haynes at shaynes@sportsnetwork.com.
Scott Haynes
The Sports Network, a STATS Company. All Rights Reserved.  home | terms of use | privacy policy | comments | SportsNetworkdata.com