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?

Hoesen leads the ways as Earthquakes take down Real Salt Lake

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USATSI

Hoesen leads the ways as Earthquakes take down Real Salt Lake

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE — Danny Hoesen scored his second goal of the season and assisted on Marco Urena's second goal, lifting the San Jose Earthquakes to a 2-1 victory over Real Salt Lake on Saturday night.

Hoesen opened the scoring in the 13th minute, off a long cross from Nick Lima. After touching the ball down, Hoesen gathered it off a defender's foot, stepped inside and unleashed a left footer into the top corner from just off the penalty spot.

Hoesen's long through ball down the right side sent Urena free and from a tight angle he rolled the ball past Nick Rimando in the 68th minute.

San Jose (6-6-5), which has battled injuries and call-ups to score just 16 goals in 16 games, won for just the second time in its last seven games.

Lima picked up two yellow cards in the second half and the Quakes played a man down from the 71st minute.

David Bingham made only one save in each half but was denied his seventh shutout when Jose Hernandez scored his second goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time for Salt Lake (5-11-2).

Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

SAN FRANCISCO -- Practically speaking, the 50th loss is no different than the one before or the one after, but this sport is built on milestones, and this one came quickly.

The Giants lost their 50th game on August 12 last year. This season, it was clinched when Ryder Jones grounded out in his fourth career at-bat, handing the Mets a 5-2 win on June 24. 

Bruce Bochy called losing 50 of your first 77 games "hard to believe" and "embarrassing." Johnny Cueto, who went seven strong, said the reality was "hard and sad." Brandon Belt, who got Cueto off the hook for a loss, agreed with his manager.

"That's a pretty good word to use -- it is embarrassing to come out and lose every day, especially with the group of guys we have," Belt said. "When you're losing as much as this, it is embarrassing. We're trying to do whatever we can to turn this thing around."

Lately, that has meant changes to the roster. It is officially audition season, and in that respect, it was not a particularly inspiring day for the bullpen. The Giants felt they would have a better mix this year, but it hasn't played out. Instead, they're once again trying to find pieces for the next successful Giants bullpen.

With Hunter Strickland suspended and Derek Law in the minors, two young relievers, a middle-innings stalwart, and a newcomer pitched the final two frames. They gave up four runs.

Sam Dyson was the first on the mound in the eighth. Belt had homered a few minutes earlier, tying a good starter's duel. Dyson gave up a leadoff triple to Curtis Granderson and walked Asdrubal Cabrera before throwing two good sliders past Yoenis Cespedes for the strikeout. With two lefties coming up and the go-ahead run still on third, Bochy turned to Steven Okert. He immediately gave up a seeing-eye RBI single to Jay Bruce. Wilmer Flores doubled off George Kontos later in the frame to make it 3-1. 

In the ninth, Kyle Crick showed some of the wildness that kept him in the minors for seven years. He, too, gave up a leadoff triple, a sin you always pay for. A walk helped put another run into scoring position and a wild pitch extended the Mets’ lead to four. 

Before the game, Bochy talked of getting an extended look at Jones. He was 0-for-4 in his first big league game but he’ll be back out there tomorrow. It’s time to fight for a job, and the same holds true of some relievers who didn’t fare well Saturday. It is a group with a closer locked into a longterm deal and little else decided. 

Are Strickland or Law eighth-inning guys? Will Dyson be a worthwhile reclamation project? Will Kontos be back, and will he carve out a different role? Are Okert and Josh Osich capable of giving Bochy lefties he trusts? Is Crick’s improvement in Triple-A a sign of things to come? There are many questions to be answered over the next three months. 

“This is a good time for them, this is what players get up here for, to show what they can do,” Bochy said. “Because of our situation, we’re going to take a look at these guys and we know there are going to be growing pains.”