Tim Tebow had his Heisman moment _ after fumbling two times and taking six sacks against Arkansas. Jimmy Clausen made his case, too _ in a loss to Southern California. Colt McCoy came up big against Oklahoma _ with a touchdown-saving tackle after throwing an interception.
The standards for these Heisman Trophy contenders sure have dropped.
Halfway into a season that was supposed to be all about the superstar quarterbacks, the real front-runner for college football's most prestigious award is a running back who entered the season with little hype.
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Tebow, McCoy and Sam Bradford were on all the magazine covers. Never before had three Heisman Trophy finalists returned to school the following year.
Playing for national championship contenders, it seemed like a slam dunk that those three stars would be back in New York for the Heisman handout in December.
Now, none of them is a lock to be a finalist again.
Bradford re-injured his right shoulder early in the Texas game Saturday and might be done for the season. Hopefully he can recover in time to rebuild his draft stock.
Heismanpundit.com, which polls 13 Heisman voters throughout the season, had Tebow and McCoy leading what it described as a wide-open race coming into this weekend.
Tebow was great in leading Florida to a game-winning field goal in the final minutes of the Gators' 23-20 victory against Arkansas. But that was after he contributed to Florida's early woes with turnovers and poor decisions.
Tebow ranks third in the country in passer rating (164.6), but he's thrown only eight TD passes, is averaging 3.8 yards per carry, and 79 quarterbacks have passed for more yards than Tebow's 1,032.
McCoy was downright ordinary in Texas' 16-13 victory against Oklahoma. His most notable play was cutting down Brian Jackson, who had a clear sideline after making a fourth-quarter pick. Like Tebow, McCoy hasn't been nearly as good as he was last year. The senior is 39th in the country in passer rating at 137.9.
McCoy and Tebow could still win the Heisman, especially if they lead their teams to the BCS national title game, but they'll need to play much better in the second half.
Clausen looks like the leading candidate among quarterbacks. He's the second-rated passer in the nation (166.4) with 1,804 yards and 14 touchdowns. Even though he couldn't close the deal against USC, Clausen stood in against the Trojans' pressure and was the biggest reason Notre Dame had a chance to win.
Cincinnati's Tony Pike looked as if he could make a push for the Heisman, but he injured his left wrist last week against South Florida.
Houston's Case Keenum will put up huge numbers, but he needed to lead the Cougars to a perfect season to gain widespread support.
Boise State's Kellen Moore is the leading passer in the country, but will have the same problem in the Heisman race as his team will have in the national title race: A soft schedule provides few opportunities for eye-catching performances.
There's been talk about a defensive player seriously getting into the mix with Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamkong Suh, Tennessee safety Eric Berry and Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain getting talked up. But that's just talk.
If you're searching for the leading Heisman contender, take a look at Crimson Tide running back Mark Ingram.
It was the sophomore who had the breakout performance this past weekend, running for 246 yards and the game-sealing touchdown in Alabama's 20-6 victory against South Carolina.
"He really inspires the offensive line when we know we have a good back like him." Tide tackle Drew Davis said.
Ingram ranks fourth in the nation in rushing at 129 yards per game and is averaging 6.7 per carry with 11 touchdowns. He has been the backbone of the offense for the No. 1 team in the nation and if he keeps it up he might become Alabama's first Heisman Trophy winner.
The first BCS standings had Alabama, Florida and Texas at the top, as expected.
Here's what you need to know: The path to Pasadena, Calif., and the BCS national championship game is simple for the Tide, Gators and Longhorns. Just win, baby.
Looking for the looming controversy?
Could a one-loss team make the title game ahead of an undefeated Cincinnati? The Bearcats from the Big East are fifth in the standings, but USC is already ahead of the Bearcats in the polls.
Boise State is fourth in the standings, but a a long shot to make the BCS title game. The bigger issue for the Broncos could be what lurks behind. Unbeaten TCU has a tougher remaining schedule and could keep Boise State from making any BCS game.
_Why when Purdue beats Ohio State does it reflect poorly on the Big Ten, but when Arkansas nearly beats Florida it's another example of how deep the SEC is?
_The most surprising team in the country: Idaho. The Vandals are 6-1 and 3-0 in the Western Athletic Conference under third-year coach Robb Ackey. Idaho went 2-10 last year and won 12 games over the previous five seasons.
_Much like last year, Al Groh's Virginia has followed up a miserable start with a winning streak. The Cavaliers (3-3) have won three straight, but the rest of their schedule is tough and it's doubtful they can win enough to save Groh's job.
Big game for a potential BCS buster.
No. 10 TCU plays at No. 16 BYU Saturday night in a game with Mountain West Conference title implications and much more for the unbeaten Horned Frogs.
The rest of TCU's schedule is much tougher than Boise State's and it gives the Horned Frogs a chance to catch the Broncos and earn a Bowl Championship Series appearance from a non-automatic qualifying conference.