Heisman Watch: Same five, different order


Heisman Watch: Same five, different order

For the first time all season, the top five Heisman hopefuls this week are the same as last week. The only difference is a shift in the order. Except for at the top, of course.

Rank Player, Position, School Recent Game Stats Season Stats Next Game 1 Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford 20-30, 206 yards, 3 TD, INT in 38-13 win at Oregon State 194-272 (71), 2424 yards, 26 TD, 5 INT, 2 rush TD No. 7 Oregon 2 Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State 18-31, 219 yards, 5 TD, 12-yard reception in 48-21 win at UNLV 192-259 (74), 2229 yards, 29 TD, 5 INT No. 24 TCU (USA Today Poll) 3 Case Keenum, QB, Houston 39-44, 407 yards, 2 TD, 2 rush TD in 56-13 win at UAB 257-347 (74), 3626 yards, 34 TD, 3 INT, 2 rush TD At Tulane (Thursday) 4 Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama 23 rush, 89 yards, five catches, 80 yards in 9-6 OT loss to No. 1 LSU 172 rush, 1078 yards (6.3 YPC), 17 TD, 23 catches, 292 rec. yards, rec. TD At Mississippi State 5 Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State 36-46, 502 yards, 4 TD, 2 INT in 52-45 win over No. 14 Kansas State 282-391 (72), 3212 yards, 26 TD, 9 INT At Texas Tech
On the bubble: Landry JonesQBOklahoma


1) Andrew Luck: The future No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft faces his toughest challenge of the season Saturday night when the No. 4 Cardinal host the No. 7 Oregon Ducks in what is being called the biggest regular season game in Stanford football history. That's not an exaggeration. If Luck leads the Cardinal to victory, Stanford locks up a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game (which will be at home), keeps the Cardinal alive in the hunt for the BCS title game, and all but cements Luck as the Heisman winner. However, many of Luck's offensive weapons, including WR Chris Owusu and tight ends Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo, are questionable for Saturday's showdown. Can the Cardinal fly past the Ducks without them?

2) Kellen Moore: Five touchdowns against UNLV certainly don't hurt Moore's chances at leap-frogging Luck. The Broncos face their toughest opponent this Saturday, TCU, since their opening-weekend win against the Georgia Bulldogs (which is suddenly looking like a HUGE victory considering the 'Dawgs control their own destiny and will most likely meet LSU in the SEC title game). If Luck stumbles against Oregon, and Moore dices up TCU's defense (Baylor's Robert Griffin III threw for 359 yards and five touchdowns against the Horned Frogs in Week 1) it could be the southpaw in first-place next week.

3) Case Keenum: Don't look now, but the 6th-year senior has Houston at No. 11 in the BCS Standings. If they close out the regular season undefeated and take care of No. 22 Southern Mississippi in the Conference USA Championship Game, the Cougars should be BCS bound (but you never know because the BCS is the single worst "thing" in all of sports -- more on that at a later date). Three weeks ago, Keenum surpassed Hawaii's Timmy Chang to become the all-time FBS leader in total offense. Two weeks ago, Keenum put Graham Harrell in his rear-view mirror and became the all-time FBS leader in career touchdown passes. And over the weekend, Keenum once again surpassed Timmy Chang to become the all-time FBS leader in passing yards. Amazing stuff.

4) Trent Richardson: In a game that featured probably 20-30 future NFLers, Richardson was the best player on the field. The problem -- he was on the losing team. This guy simply doesn't go down after first contact and requires a multitude of defenders to bring him down. He makes up for his lack of Chris-Johnson-type-speed with some razzle-dazzle and head-and-shoulder fakes that cause defenders to whiff. Had the Tide won, he would easily be sitting in the No. 2 spot on the list and quite possibly head of Luck. But as they say -- "To the victor, go the spoils."

5) Brandon Weeden: It's hard for a matchup between the No. 3 and No 14 ranked teams in the country to go virtually unnoticed, but that's what happens when you play on the same day (let alone the same time) as the "Game of the Century." Weeden led the No. 3 Oklahoma State Cowboys past the No. 14 Kansas State Wildcats in a 52-45 barn-burner that was the antithesis of LSU-Alabama. Weeden did throw two interceptions in the win, but he also threw four touchdowns, and it should have been five had All-World wide receiver Justin Blackmon not fumbled as he was crossing the goal-line. Trap game coming up this weekend as the Cowboys head to Lubbock to take on Texas Tech.

Drew Shiller is a Web Producer at CSNBayArea.com. You can follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

Former Napa star Josh Jackson leaving Kansas, entering NBA Draft


Former Napa star Josh Jackson leaving Kansas, entering NBA Draft

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Josh Jackson declared for the NBA draft on Monday after one of the best freshman seasons in Kansas history, one marked by plenty of highlights on the floor and a few distractions off it.

The 6-foot-8 swingman, who is considered a certain lottery pick, was the Big 12 newcomer of the year after averaging 16.3 points and 7.4 rebounds. He helped the Jayhawks to a 31-5 record and its 13th straight regular season Big 12 title before losing to Oregon in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.

Jackson signed with former NBA player B.J. Armstrong of Wasserman Media Group.

"After thoroughly consulting with my family, I have decided to enter the 2017 NBA draft and pursue my dream of playing professional basketball," Jackson said in a statement Monday.

"I am very thankful for all of the support I have received from my coaches and teammates at Kansas," he said, "and I look forward to starting my career in the NBA."

Jackson was the nation's No. 1 recruit when he signed with the Jayhawks out of Prolific Prep Academy in California. He immediately earned a spot in the starting lineup, teaming with national player of the year Frank Mason III and Devonte Graham to form one of the nation's top backcourts.

With natural athleticism and ability to slash to the basket - not to mention defensive chops that are rare among freshmen - Jackson quickly established himself as one of the nation's top draft prospects.

His importance was never more evident than in the Big 12 Tournament, when he was suspended by coach Bill Self following a series of off-the-court issues. The top-seeded Jayhawks stumbled in a quarterfinal loss to TCU, ending their run at the conference tournament before it really began.

He returned for the NCAA Tournament and played well in wins over UC Davis, Michigan State and Purdue, but was hamstrung by foul trouble and managed just 10 points in a season-ending loss to the Ducks.

Jackson's suspension came following an incident outside a Lawrence bar in December, when a member of the Kansas women's basketball team got into an altercation with Jackson's teammate, Lagerald Vick.

Jackson followed the woman to the parking lot and the woman said he kicked her car and caused hundreds of dollars in damage. He pleaded not guilty last week in Douglas County District Court to one misdemeanor count of criminal damage to property and a trial is scheduled for May 24.

His attorney, Hatem Chahine, said he was planning to file for diversion.

Jackson also was ticketed in February after he struck a parked car and fled the scene, and that drew Self's ire when he didn't tell his coach about the incident until several weeks later.

His decision to declare for the draft came a week after teammate Svi Mykhailiuk announced he would skip his senior season. But unlike Jackson, the 6-8 sharpshooter has not hired an agent and could withdraw his name by May 24 and return to the Jayhawks.

Redemption: Year after heartbreak, UNC outlasts Gonzaga to win title


Redemption: Year after heartbreak, UNC outlasts Gonzaga to win title


GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It's OK, Carolina, you can open your eyes.

An unwatchable game turned into a beautiful night for the Tar Heels, who turned a free-throw contest into a championship they've been waiting an entire year to celebrate.

Justin Jackson delivered the go-ahead 3-point play with 1:40 left Monday and North Carolina pulled away for a 71-65 win over Gonzaga that washed away a year's worth of heartache.

It was, in North Carolina's words, a redemption tour - filled with extra time on the practice court and the weight room, all fueled by a devastating loss in last year's title game on Kris Jenkins' 3-point dagger at the buzzer for Villanova.

"Just unreal that we get a second chance at this," junior Theo Pinson said, recounting a pre-game conversation with teammate Joel Berry II. "Not a lot of people can say they can do that. I told him, `We're about to take this thing. I'm about to give everything I got.' I knew he would, too, We just didn't want to come up short again."

But to say everything went right for Roy Williams' team at this Final Four would be less than the truth.

The Tar Heels (33-7) followed a terrible-shooting night in the semifinal with an equally ice-cold performance in the final - going 4 for 27 from 3-point land and 26 for 73 overall.

Gonzaga, helped by 8 straight points from Nigel Williams-Goss, took a 2-point lead with 1:52 left, but the next possession was the game-changer.

Jackson took a zinger of a pass under the basket from Pinson and converted the shot, then the ensuing free throw to take the lead for good. Moments later, Williams-Goss twisted an ankle and could not elevate for a jumper that would've given the Bulldogs the lead.

Isaiah Hicks made a basket to push the lead to 3, then Kennedy Meeks, in foul trouble all night (who wasn't?), blocked Williams-Goss' shot and Jackson got a slam on the other end to put some icing on title No. 6 for the Tar Heels.

Williams got his third championship, putting him one ahead of his mentor, Dean Smith, and now behind only John Wooden, Mike Krzyzewski and Adolph Rupp.

"I think of Coach Smith, there's no question," Williams said. "I don't think I should be mentioned in the same sentence with him. But we got three because I've got these guys with me and that's all I care about right now - my guys."

Berry recovered from ankle injuries to lead the Tar Heels, but needed 19 shots for his 22 points. Jackson had 16 but went 0 for 9 from 3. Overall, the Tar Heels actually shot a percentage point worse than they did in Saturday night's win over Oregon.

Thank goodness for free throws.

They went 15 for 26 from the line and, in many corners, this game will be remembered for these three men: Michael Stephens, Verne Harris and Mike Eades, the referees who called 27 fouls in the second half, completely busted up the flow of the game and sent Meeks, Gonzaga's 7-footers Przemek Karnowski and Zach Collins, and a host of others to the bench in foul trouble.

The game "featured" 52 free throws. Both teams were in the bonus with 13 minutes left. Somehow, Collins was the only player to foul out.

Most bizarre sequence: With 8:02 left, Berry got called for a foul for (maybe) making contact with Karnowski and stripping the ball from the big man's hands. But as Karnowski was flailing after the ball, he inadvertently grabbed Berry around the neck. After a long delay, the refs called Karnowski for a flagrant foul of his own.

"I'm not going to talk about refs," Karnowski said. "It was just a physical game."

Zags coach Mark Few handled it with class, calling the refs "three of the best officials in the entire country," and insisting they did a fine job.

He might have wanted further review on the scrum with 50 seconds left. The refs were taking heat on social media for calling a held ball, which gave possession to the Tar Heels, on a pile-up underneath the Carolina basket. It set up the Hicks layup to put Carolina ahead by 3. One problem: Meeks' right hand looks to be very much touching out of bounds while he's trying to rip away the ball.

"That was probably on me," Few said. "From my angle, it didn't look like an out of bounds situation or I would have called a review. That's tough to hear."

The Bulldogs (37-2), the Cinderella-turned-Godzilla team from the small school in the West Coast Conference, tried to keep the big picture in mind. Twenty years ago, this sort of run at that sort of place looked virtually impossible. With less than 2 minutes left, they had the lead in the national title game.

"We broke the glass ceiling everyone said we couldn't break," junior forward Johnathan Williams said.

And North Carolina got over a hump that, at times this season, felt like a mountain.

"They wanted redemption," Williams said. "I put it on the locker room up on the board - one of the things we had to be tonight was tough enough. I think this group was tough enough tonight."