NFP Heisman Watch

Russell Wilson couldn’t quite deliver a Heisman moment last Saturday night in East Lansing as Wisconsin was unable to finish its comeback in a loss to Michigan State. Meanwhile, Andrew Luck put up pedestrian numbers in Stanford’s surprising blowout win over Washington.

So which contenders have the edge for the hardware after eight weeks of the season?

Here are the names to monitor as we enter Week 9:

Andrew LuckICONAndrew Luck has some tough games left, so he'll have opportunities to further impress the voters.

Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford: The prohibitive Heisman favorite didn’t have to do too much in the win over Washington because the Cardinal rushing attack was so dominant. Stepfan Taylor and Co. rushed for a school-record 446 yards in the 65-21 rout, so Luck was able to take it easy. The junior threw for 169 yards and two touchdowns and completed 16 of 21 passes as the Cardinal extended the nation’s longest winning streak to a school-record 15 games. Luck is now 27-5 as a starter, and he’ll get his chance to have an even brighter spotlight when he faces off against thriving squads USC, Oregon and Notre Dame. This week, he’ll face a Trojans defense that is allowing 265.1 yards per game through the air — good for 104th in the nation.

2011: 145 of 202 passing for 1,888 yards, 20 TDs and 3 INTs

Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State: Moore threw for 265 yards and three touchdowns in a 37-26 win over Air Force. The Broncos weren’t on the field too much as the Falcons won the time of possession battle, but Moore and Co. did enough when they had the football. The senior signal-caller finished 23 of 29 en route to winning the 45th game of his career as a starter, which ties him with former Texas quarterback Colt McCoy for the most wins all-time by a college quarterback. He also has 123 career touchdown passes. But will Boise's schedule turn away some of the voters?

2011: 174 of 228 passing for 2,010 yards, 24 TDs and 5 INTs

Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama: The junior workhorse was unable to extend his streak of 100-yard games to six, but he was able to tally two touchdowns against a Tennessee defense that did everything it could to limit his effectiveness. He had 77 yards on just 17 carries, so his yards per carry average was still solid. With his rare combination of power and speed, the tough-nosed runner is positioned as the best non-QB in this race. And he could position himself as the player to beat with a big game against top-ranked LSU on November 5.

2011: 149 rushes for 1,016 yards and 17 TDs; 18 receptions for 212 yards and 1 TD

Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin: Wilson threw two interceptions in Wisconsin’s first loss of the season in East Lansing against Michigan State. But he rallied the Badgers from a 14-point deficit before they were burned by Kirk Cousins’ Hail Mary to Keith Nichol. The former three-year starter at N.C. State threw for 223 yards on 14 of 21 passing with two touchdowns to go along with those picks. He also had 30 yards on eight rushes and a touchdown run. The dual-threat signal-caller, whose ability to make plays on the run both with his arm and his feet make Paul Chryst’s offense virtually unstoppable, obviously took a step back in this race with the loss. But a Big Ten title is still a possibility for Bret Bielema’s squad.

2011: 109 of 149 passing for 1,780 yards, 16 TDs and 3 INT; 32 rushes for 212 yards and 3 TDs; 1 catch for 25 yards and 1 TD

Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma: Jones took a step back in this race with OU’s shocking home loss to Texas Tech, but the veteran signal-caller did all he could to spark a Sooners comeback from a 31-7 deficit. He threw for 412 yards and five touchdowns with one interception on 30 of 55 passing, recording his fifth straight game with at least three scoring passes. He notched his sixth 350-plus yard game of the season, and Jones still has a shot at the Heisman hardware even if the Sooners’ BCS national championship game aspirations took a serious hit.

2011: 201 of 308 passing for 2,589 yards, 21 TDs and 7 INTs

Robert Griffin IIIICONCan Robert Griffin III help deliver Baylor a signature win?

Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor: RGIII and the Bears were idle this past weekend, and Griffin will play his most important game of the season this Saturday at Oklahoma State. He’s clearly one of the best players in America, but he’d drop out of this race if Baylor suffers a third loss before the month of November. His play has been unbelievable this fall and he remains a household name on the national scene because of his standout performances, but Baylor has to remain relevant in the Big 12 for Griffin to net serious consideration.

2011: 142 of 182 passing for 1,950 yards, 22 TDs and 2 INTs; 72 rushes for 295 yards and 2 TDs

Case Keenum, QB, Houston: Keenum became the FBS career leader in total offense as he threw for 376 yards and tied his career high with six touchdowns in Houston’s 63-28 win over Marshall. The sixth-year senior is enjoying life in the Houston offense once again after putting last year’s knee injury well behind him. Keenum, who completed 24 of 28 passes against the Thundering Herd (including 15 in a row during one stretch), needs 802 passing yards to grab the major college football career record for passing yards and five touchdown throws to eclipse the career touchdowns mark. He is a legit Heisman contender in Kevin Sumlin’s offense.

2011: 194 of 266 passing for 2,685 yards, 23 TDs and 2 INTs

Others to watch

Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson: The dual-threat signal-caller remains in this race because of the way he is operating in coordinator Chad Morris’ offense. Against North Carolina, he threw five touchdown passes and went 27 of 46 through the air for 367 yards as the Tigers remained unbeaten. He also had a rushing score in the 59-38 win over the Tar Heels.

Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin: The Badgers may have suffered their first loss of the season, but Ball continues to be prolific on the ground. He rushed for 115 yards on 18 carries and had a scoring run as well as a 2-yard score on a catch with 1:26 left to tie the game against Michigan State. He has 17 rushing touchdowns on the season and has scored at least twice in every game he has played this fall.

David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech: The one constant of the Hokies’ offense this fall has been Wilson, who rushed for 134 yards on 17 carries in Virginia Tech’s 30-14 victory over Boston College. He has rushed for 1,037 yards on the year and should net some consideration for this hardware.

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