Troy Smith a heavy Heisman favorite




 
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December 9th, 2006  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: Troy Smith a heavy Heisman favorite




RALPH D. RUSSO

Associated Press

NEW YORK - Troy Smith figures to make this contest a rout, too. The Ohio State quarterback is such a heavy favorite to take the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night that the competition could be one of the biggest landslides in the award's history.
Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn and Arkansas running back Darren McFadden are the other finalists for college football's most famous award. But it'll be a shocker if Smith doesn't become the sixth Ohio State player to win the Heisman.
"For so many years I've walked through the atrium and I've just looked at Heisman Trophies and took it for granted, not really thinking about the work that those guys had to do to really get there," Smith said earlier this week. "Now I totally understand how much you have to be a team-oriented guy and how much work you have to put into it to be spoken of as one of the elite players."
Since Jay Berwanger of the University of Chicago won the first Heisman in 1935, 14 players have won the bronze statue by a margin of more than 1,000 points.
Southern California tailback O.J. Simpson set the standard for lopsided Heisman Trophy victories in 1968, receiving 1,750 points more than the runner-up, Purdue running back Leroy Keyes.
Then there were 1,200 Heisman voters. The number of voters decreased to 923 in 1988, so simple mathematics makes it difficult for anyone to touch that mark. A first-place vote is worth three points, a second-place vote two and a third one.
Florida State quarterback Charlie Ward came closest to Simpson's mark when he won the '93 award by 1,622 points over Tennessee's Heath Shuler. Two years before, Michigan's Desmond Howard was a 1,574-point winner over Florida State's Casey Weldon.
Last year, Reggie Bush, another USC star, was an overwhelming choice, getting more first-place votes (784) and points (2,541) than any other player but Simpson, who had 855 and 2,853.
But because Texas quarterback Vince Young was such a strong candidate - and appeared on so many ballots in second or third - Bush's margin of victory was 967.
Quinn was one of the preseason favorites - maybe the favorite - to win the award and become the eighth Heisman winner from Notre Dame, the first since Tim Brown in 1987.
A senior, Quinn had 35 touchdown passes and five interceptions this season. But he played poorly in Notre Dame's two biggest games against Michigan and USC - four turnovers in a 47-21 loss to the Wolverines) and so-so (22-of-45 for 274 yards and three touchdowns in a 44-24 loss to the Trojans).
Another serious contender never emerged.
McFadden ran for a school-record 1,558 yards and scored 16 touchdowns for the surprising Razorbacks, and showed off his passing skills by throwing three TD passes in eight attempts. The sophomore's late-season breakout was good enough to make him the first Arkansas player to be a finalist and should make him the leading candidate heading into next season.
And while other top players were having their ups and downs, Smith was brilliantly efficient leading the Buckeyes (12-0) through an unbeaten regular season, during which they rarely were challenged. Ohio State won 10 games by at least 17 points.
He's fourth in the nation in passer rating (167.9) and threw for 2,507 yards and 30 touchdowns with only five interceptions for the unbeaten Buckeyes.
He heads into the BCS championship game against Florida on Jan. 8 in Glendale, Ariz., with a 25-2 record as a starter, and he's been at his best when the Buckeyes have needed him most.
In Ohio State's two 1 vs. 2 games against Texas and Michigan, Smith threw for 585 yards and six touchdowns with one interception.
He would also be the first senior to win the Heisman since USC quarterback Carson Palmer did it in 2002, breaking a streak of three straight junior winners.
So Smith won't have a chance to match Ohio State's Archie Griffin, the only two-time Heisman winner. But as the first quarterback in 70 years to lead Ohio State to three consecutive victories over Michigan, Smith already ranks with Griffin as one of the best and most beloved Buckeyes.
"I'll say this, every time I'm on the field before a game," Griffin said of Smith, "I look in his eyes and I can tell he's ready and he's going to have a good game. I'm really talking about Michigan games. I'm down on the field before the game ... and I walk past Troy. You can just tell he was confident."
 


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