Heisman Watch: And then there were 5

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Heisman Watch: And then there were 5

The first BCS standings were released on Sunday, signifying that the chase to the BCS Championship Game is in full swing. In addition, now that we are over halfway through the season the race for the Heisman Trophy is starting to take shape. We have narrowed down the candidates from 10 to five, with a few players on the bubble. After all, only five will be invited to the presentation in New York on December 10. Without further ado...

Rank PlayerPositionSchool Recent Game Stats Season Stats Next Game 1 Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford 26-36, 336 yards, 4 TD, INT in 44-14 win Washington State 129-181 (71), 1719 yards, 18 TD, 3 INT, rush TD 25 Washington 2 Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama 17 rush, 183 yards, 4 TD in 52-7 win at Ole Miss 132 rush, 912 yards (7 yards per carry), 15 TD, 179 rec. yards, rec. TD Tennessee 3 Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin 12-17, 166 yards, TD, 42 rush yards in 59-7 win over Indiana 95-128 (74), 1557 yards, 14 TD, INT, 182 rush yards, 2 rush TD at 16 Michigan State 4 Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State 26-30, 338 yards, 4 TD in 63-13 win at Colorado State 151-199 (76), 1729 yards, 21 TD, 6 INT Air Force 5 Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma 29-48, 363 yards, 3 TD, INT in 47-17 win at Kansas 171-253 (68), 2177 yards, 16 TD, 6 INT, 2 rush TD Texas Tech
On the bubble: Brandon WeedenQBOklahoma State, Robert Griffin IIIQBBaylor, Case KeenumQBHouston, Ryan BroylesWROklahoma

Analysis:

1) Andrew Luck: Stanford has won its six games by an average of almost 35 points per game, and although their lack of competition hurt the Cardinal in the first BCS standings (8th) it hasn't hurt Luck in Heisman race. Big numbers and a big margin of victory against the 25th ranked Washington Huskies will only extend Luck's lead, and should help boost the Cardinal's strength of schedule with the computers.

2) Trent Richardson: Did you see his 76-yard touchdown run over the weekend? This guy will be carrying it 20 plus times a game on Sundays next year, and may pick up a Heisman trophy and BCS National Championship on the way. Set your DVR right this second for November 5 when a spot in the SEC Title Game, and most likely the BCS Title Game is on the line when the Crimson Tide host LSU. If Richardson shines and the Tide wins, Luck may not be feeling so lucky after all.

3) Russell Wilson: All of the quarterbacks he is battling have completed more passes than Wilson has even attempted. Wisconsin will always be a smash-mouth, run-first program but without Wilson they are an above average team. With him, they have a realistic shot at sneaking into the BCS Title Game. However, they face their biggest test of the season this Saturday in East Lansing against a Spartans squad that knocked off Michigan over the weekend. My prediction: Russell dominates and the Badgers win by double digits.
4) Kellen Moore: I've had him 3rd, 5th, 1b, 7th, and now 4th. The Broncos' weak schedule has made me flip-flop practically every week, but I think it's safe to say that he will remain in the Top 5 and be invited to New York on December 10 as long as Boise runs the table, and he doesn't either get hurt or throw three interceptions in a game. His margin for error is smaller than anybody on the list.

5) Landry Jones: He got off to a bit of a slow start (five passing touchdowns vs. four interceptions in first three games) but has thrown 11 touchdowns against just two interceptions in the Sooners' last three games. Oklahoma has the toughest route to the BCS Title Game with games at 11 Kansas State, 17 Texas A&M, at Baylor, and at 4 Oklahoma State still on the schedule. The way I look at it -- amazing opportunities for Jones to vault himself to the top of the list, and into a top draft pick he elects to enter the 2012 NFL Draft.
Note: If team records or rankings didn't matter, Robert Griffin III would unquestionably be in the top 5. However, Baylor has two losses, including a 55-28 drubbing over the weekend from Texas A&M. Maybe he should play defense, too?

Sharks need to 'figure it out pretty soon' after another thrashing

Sharks need to 'figure it out pretty soon' after another thrashing

NASHVILLE – Apparently, one wake up call wasn’t good enough for the plummeting San Jose Sharks.
 
Just one day after suffering what was arguably their worst game under coach Pete DeBoer, Nashville put up a touchdown on the Sharks in a 7-2 win, giving San Jose its sixth straight defeat – all in regulation.
 
After getting outscored 13-3 the last two nights, including Friday’s 6-1 loss in Dallas, where do they go from here?
 
“In two years, last year and this year so far, we haven’t had one night like this almost. Now we have back-to-back nights,” Joe Pavelski said. “I think it’s just a reality check. A gut-check time.
 
“It’s on us as players. Bottom line is we haven’t put the effort in that we need to have right now, and it snowballed on us a little bit at times. I think we’ve got to take a deep breath and really take a look in the mirror, refocus a little bit and understand there’s hockey out there, but it’s not going to fix itself.”
 
What has to be fixed immediately is the defensive structure that has been so vital to the Sharks’ success in the Pete DeBoer era. Even when the club was going through stretches of struggling to score, as it was earlier in the season, it was still collecting points in the standings with its ability to limit the opposition’s scoring chances.
 
While the game against the Predators was actually a little better in that regard, believe it or not, it was still nowhere near the level it needs to be for the postseason. Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s absence was partly to blame for that, but the Brent Burns-Paul Martin pair has been a disaster lately. Both have a minus-nine rating during the six-game losing streak, and that number is indicative of how they’ve looked, too.
 
“We’re giving up some goals. It’s a combination of things,” DeBoer said. “Obviously it’s not good enough to win games, so we’ve got to figure it out. I don’t have an answer standing here for you, but I know our group. Every team I’ve ever coached has a tough part of the season. This is obviously ours. We’ll regroup, and figure it out.”
 
Burns, who admitted to a “bad read” on Nashville’s second goal when Roman Josi sped around him, said: “It’s a tough league when you’re not executing little things.”
 
The Sharks actually looked strong early, poised to put the Dallas disaster behind them. The first few shifts, they had the puck in the Nashville end.
 
But Tomas Hertl was outmuscled behind the net by Colin Wilson on Colton Sissons’ goal at 4:14, Burns got beat on the second, and the Sharks never recovered. Patrick Marleau’s second period power play goal offered life, but that was extinguished 24 seconds later when James Neal answered with a power play goal of his own. The Sharks never got closer than two goals after that.
 
“When things are going bad, those are the things that are happening,” Burns said of Neal’s response to Marleau’s marker. “So, you’ve just got work through it."
 
Will they be able to work through it with just seven games left in the regular season, though? That this cold spell is happening in late March doesn’t speak well to the Sharks’ chances in the postseason, which begins in just two-and-a-half weeks.
 
Burns said: “Right now we should be just tightening up everything. … We've got figure it out pretty soon.”

Sharks forward Haley could face supplemental discipline from NHL

Sharks forward Haley could face supplemental discipline from NHL

NASHVILLE – Sharks forward Micheal Haley could be in line for supplemental discipline from the league, after earning a match penalty in the third period of Saturday’s 7-2 loss in Nashville.
 
After absorbing a borderline hit from behind by Calle Jarnkrok, Haley tracked down the Predators forward and promptly delivered a left jab to Jarnkrok’s face at 12:56 of the final frame, with the Sharks trailing 5-2 at the time.
 
Naturally, there were differing opinions from the two head coaches on the play.
 
Pete DeBoer said: “When you run someone from behind in a game like that, you probably deserve to get a punch in the mouth.”
 
Predators coach Peter Laviolette told reporters: "It's an ugly play. This isn't the wild, wild west. I mean, Calle hit him. We took a penalty. If we start doing that, we're in trouble, so hopefully it gets looked at."
 
Any player who earns a match penalty "shall be automatically suspended from further competition until the commissioner has ruled on the issue,” according to league rules.
 
In 54 games this season, Haley has two goals and nine assists for 11 points. His 110 penalty minutes is fifth in the league.
 
Jarnkrok did not return after the punch, but told reporters after the game he felt “OK.”
 
"I feel pretty good," Jarnkrok said. "Obviously, I saw him coming. There were a couple other guys coming, too. I didn't really know what to do. He got in a good punch on me.”