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 You can follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

Cal fights USC into fourth quarter, can't complete the upset


Cal fights USC into fourth quarter, can't complete the upset


BERKELEY -- Stephen Carr ran for a fourth-quarter touchdown two plays after Southern California's defense forced one of its six turnovers and the fifth-ranked Trojans won their 13th straight game, 30-20 over California on Saturday.

USC (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) has dominated the series with its in-state rival by winning 14 straight against the Golden Bears (3-1, 0-1), but this was one of the tightest matchups in years as the game was tied early in the fourth quarter.

Sam Darnold threw for 223 yards and two touchdowns for the Trojans but also had an interception and was under pressure for much of the day.

It was the defense that stepped up for USC, intercepting a pass from Ross Bowers in the first quarter to set up a field goal and then delivering the big play early in the fourth quarter after Chase McGrath gave the Trojans a 16-13 lead with his third field goal of the game.

Josh Fatu knocked the ball out of Bowers' hand and Uchenna Nwosu recovered the fumble at the 3. Carr ran it in two plays later from the 2 to make it 23-13.

Ykili Ross then intercepted Bowers' pass on the next possession, setting up Darnold's 4-yard TD pass to Deontay Burnett that put away the game.

Bowers finished 22 for 50 for 303 yards with one touchdown, four interceptions and two lost fumbles.


SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: The Trojans struggled for much of the game without starting RB Ronald Jones (ankle) and WR Steven Mitchell (groin) but managed to pull away late in their first road game of the season.

CALIFORNIA: The Bears used an improved defense to start 3-0 under first-year coach Justin Wilcox but this was supposed to be the test of how far they had come. Cal showed plenty by sticking with a national title contender for three quarters. A sequence on the opening drive of the second will haunt the Bears. Patrick Laird dropped a potential TD in the end zone and Matt Anderson then missed a 29-yard field goal that kept the game tied at 13.


A win against an unranked team should do little to alter USC's poll position.


SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Visits No. 18 Washington State on Friday.

CALIFORNIA: Visits No. 24 Oregon on Saturday.

From feeding homeless to doing the splits, Stanford's Phillips a rare find


From feeding homeless to doing the splits, Stanford's Phillips a rare find

Stanford has a penchant for recruiting the overachieving student-athlete. Even among those standards, Harrison Phillips is a rare find. The senior defensive tackle helps feed the homeless every Friday morning at a local shelter. He often visits the kids in the oncology ward at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. He was named to the Pac-12 All Academic First Team and will graduate in December with a double major and a minor. He is a team captain and heir apparent to Solomon Thomas, the 49ers third overall pick in this year’s NFL draft.

“One thing you love about Harrison is, every day he’s going to get something done,” head coach David Shaw told NBC Sports Bay Area. “On the field, off the field, in the community, he’s always got a million things going on. But nothing ever suffers.

"He does everything at a high level.”

At 6-foot-4, 290 pounds, Phillips is a mountain of a man. His skill set is different than that of Thomas, but he can be just as disruptive. He plays over the center. He plays over the guards. His self-proclaimed job is to eat as many blocks as possible to keep the linebackers free.

“He’s such that hard point for us. He’s that guy up front that’s getting knock back, that force in the run game that you gotta have,” defensive coordinator Lance Anderson explained. “You have to have that strong solid point in the middle of your defense, and he provides that.”

Phillips had a game-high 11 tackles, five of them solo, in the Cardinal’s loss to USC. No other defensive lineman on the field had more than three.

“He’s outstanding against the run. He’s a very good pass rusher,” Shaw added. “He’s got a lot of tools that can work inside.”

Phillips main instruments of domination are strength, knowledge of leverage and abnormal flexibility for a man of his size.

“He can do the splits on command,” Thomas said laughing from in front of his locker after a recent 49ers practice. “He loves showing it off. We get on him for it. But he loves doing it.

And, according to Thomas, his former Stanford teammate loves to bench. So it comes as no surprise that Phillips’ upper body strength stands out.

“He’ll be really low in a position that you think he’d get knocked over in,” Thomas explained. “Because of how flexible he is, it’s not a problem for him to get in that position and stay there and move on from there. It definitely shows up on his film.”

No doubt, Phillips says, that ability comes from his wrestling experience. His high school curriculum vitae includes, “Nebraska State Wrestling Champion, Heavy Weight Division, Sophomore, Junior and Senior years.”

Phillips first year on The Farm, he vividly remembers his Stanford coaches testing him. Just a mere 245 pounds at the time, they put him up against Joshua Garnett and Andrus Peat, two offensive linemen now in the NFL and each well over 300 pounds.

“They’d double team me, almost 700 pounds on you, and I would somehow find leverage and be able to sit on some of those double teams,” Phillips said. “I think the violence that wrestling brings, and balance and being comfortable in weird positions, wrestling has a ton of scrambling, as it's called, you just know your body and know what you can do. I have tremendous flexibility, and I use everything to my advantage.”

One thing Phillips is not allowed to do is use his explosiveness away from the football field. At one time, Phillips could do a back flip off the wall, but he no longer attempts it.

“I’m not a big fan of the back hand springs,” Shaw said. “I’d like for him to stay on his feet.”

Phillips doesn’t argue. He lost his entire sophomore year to a knee injury, and doesn’t want to risk another. He has NFL aspirations and put himself in position to graduate in three-and-a-half years should he choose to enter the 2018 draft. But just as he has done at Stanford, he is looking to be more than just a name on a jersey should he play on a professional level.

“I want to build something that is really lasting,” Phillips said of his life goal, “and put my name on something to touch people’s lives and change people’s lives, pay it forward as much as I can.”