Heisman Watch: Make room for Tajh Boyd


Heisman Watch: Make room for Tajh Boyd

Week 8 of the college football season dramatically altered both the BCS standings and the race for the Heisman Trophy.

The No. 6 ranked Wisconsin Badgers blew a 14-0 lead, came back from a 31-17 4th quarter deficit to tie it at 31, only to lose on an improbable Hail Mary as time expired.

The loss not only dropped Wisconsin to No. 15 in the BCS, but Russell Wilson's Heisman bid is practically a thing of the past.

The biggest shock of the weekend, however, was unquestionably Texas Tech's upset victory on the road at No. 3 Oklahoma. Landry Jones had a monster game (30-55, 412 yards, 5 TD, INT) but when you're team loses, you feel the effects in the Heisman Watch.

Fortunately for the Sooners, they only dropped to No. 9 in the BCS and still have three ranked opponents on the schedule to make up ground.

Does it make sense that Wisconsin fell nine spots after losing on a Hail Mary on the road against the No. 16 team, and Oklahoma only dropped six spots after losing to an unranked team at home? Of course not, but that's the world of the BCS.

The Heisman is also an imperfect science but it doesn't mean we don't try to get it right. Without further ado...

Rank Player, Position, School Recent Game Stats Season Stats Next Game 1 Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford 16-21, 169 yards, 2 TD in 65-21 win over 25 Washington 145-202 (72), 1888 yards, 20 TD, 3 INT, rush TD At USC (No. 20 AP Poll) 2 Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama 17 rush, 77 yards, 2 TD in 37-6 win over Tennessee 149 rush, 989 yards (6.6 YPC), 17 TD, 212 rec. yards, rec. TD Bye, No. 1 LSU 3 Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson 27-46, 367 yards, 5 TD, rush TD in 59-38 win over North Carolina 172-278 (62), 2379 yards, 24 TD, 3 INT, 165 rush yards, 4 rush TD At Georgia Tech 4 Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State 23-29, 281 yards, 3 TD, INT in 37-26 win over Air Force 174-228 (76), 2010 yards, 24 TD, 5 INT Bye, At UNLV 5 Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State 33-49, 338 yards, 3 TD, INT in 45-24 win at Missouri 222-309 (72), 2436 yards, 19 TD, 7 INT Baylor
On the bubble: Robert Griffin IIIQBBaylor, Landry JonesQBOklahoma, Case KeenumQBHouston, Russell WilsonQBWisconsin


1) Andrew Luck: How was he supposed to put up big numbers when the Cardinal rushed for a school single-game record 446 yards? That surely won't be the case when Stanford travels to USC this weekend, as the Cardinal will need Luck's arm to get by the Trojans. But don't let anybody fool you, Stanford's season, and Luck's Heisman candidacy rides on the showdown November 12 with Oregon.

2) Trent Richardson: Had he not scored two touchdowns he probably would have slipped a spot in the rankings after registering just 77 yards rushing against Tennessee. Nonetheless, Richardson has a chance to steal in the show (and possibly the Heisman) when the Crimson Tide host No. 1 LSU on November 5 in the undisputed Game of the Year.

3) Tajh Boyd: Before the season, or before this week, or before one minute ago when you starting reading this blog, did you know who Tajh Boyd was? The redshirt sophomore has put himself, and No. 5 Clemson on the map and has the Tigers dreaming of a BCS tile game appearance (it's not a dream anymore, it's a reality). WARNING: Don't look past Georgia Tech this week -- yes, the Yellow Jackets have lost two in a row and have gone from No. 12 in the AP Poll to unranked, but they would like nothing more than to ruin your perfect season and then hope to meet you again in the ACC Championship Game. Consider yourself warned...
4) Kellen Moore: He had a solid game against Air Force but the Broncos shouldn't have struggled like they did against the Falcons. I said last week that Kellen Moore has smallest margin of error if he wants to remain in the Heisman hunt, and the same goes for Boise State's BCS quest. In reality, Boise has .00000009 chance of making the BCS National Championship Game but will surely earn a spot in a BCS game if they simply win out. Let's use this analogy for Moore's Heisman bid: He doesn't have a great shot at winning it (BCS Title Game) but if Boise wins out, he will be invited to New York (a BCS game).

5) Brandon Weeden: His 19 touchdowns to 7 interceptions doesn't scream "Heisman" but he is completing 72 of his passes and has thrown for 2436 yards for the No. 3 ranked team in the land. With a daunting schedule ahead (Baylor, No. 8 Kansas State, at No. 20 Texas Tech, at Iowa State, No. 9 Oklahoma) it's simple: If the Cowboys win out, they will be facing either LSU or Alabama in the BCS Championship Game, and Brandon Weeden will be in New York for the Heisman presentation.

Cowboys expose 49ers' biggest weakness in bashing: Talent


Cowboys expose 49ers' biggest weakness in bashing: Talent

If there is such a thing as being “due” in sports (and there actually isn’t, so you can probably stop reading now), the San Francisco 49ers had Sunday coming to them.
After all, the anomaly of being the “best winless team in football” based on margin of defeat lasts only so long until the “winless” part trumps the “best” part, because even the Los Angeles Chargers – the previous “best bad team in football” – aren’t the Chargers all the time.
So it was that the Dallas Cowboys exposed every weakness the 49ers have with the simplest thing there is.
The Cowboys did everything they wanted, but only whenever they wanted it, in a 40-10 dope-slapping that could actually have been worse than it was. The 49er offense was properly stymied (again), gaining only 290 yards (4.5 yards per play) and the defense was thoroughly Elliotted (as in Ezekiel-ed, who averaged 8.1 yards in his 27 touches). San Francisco’s warts were rubbed until they glowed, and if not for the fact that head coach Kyle Shanahan already knew where they were, he’d have been shocked to see how visible they were.
And therein lies the takeaway from another day at Not-So-Great-America. It turns out that the 49ers weren’t very good at much of anything before Sunday except just how far away they are from what Shanahan and general manager John Lynch believe is their destiny. C.J.  Beathard remained the rookie quarterback he is, and Carlos Hyde's hard-won 68 rushing yards led to no scores. Indeed, San Francisco's only touchdown came on a four-yard improv sprint from Beathard, who is by no means a running quarterback except in abject flight.

Next week in Philadelphia figures to be no less grisly, if you’re waiting for that magic moment when “0” becomes “1.” That is, of course, unless Washington exposes the Eagles as less than what they seem, which is very often the case in the new parity-gripped NFL.

But there are subsequent get-well games at home against Arizona and then at New York against the Giants the week after, so whatever dreams you might have about them running the table backwards and getting the first overall pick in the draft are still light years from realization.
This is, however, another healthy reminder that the job to be done is at least two more years in the undoing before the doing can actually begin. Not that the players or coaches needed another lesson, mind you – they know.
But maybe you needed it, just to keep your delusions in check. Maybe the people who were “due” were all of you.
But that’s unfair, too. You didn’t undo this franchise. All you did was believe, and there’s nothing wrong with that – as long you know there will be more days like this before your team starts handing out the 40-10’s.
In the meantime, there is beer.

Three things you need to know from 49ers' 40-10 loss vs Cowboys


Three things you need to know from 49ers' 40-10 loss vs Cowboys

SANTA CLARA -- Three things you need to know about the 49ers’ 40-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 7 on Sunday:

1. A major step backward
So much for the 49ers’ somewhat-impressive streak of close losses.

There was nothing encouraging about what transpired in the 49ers' worst loss at Levi’s Stadium. It was also the franchise's worst home loss since Mike Singletary's team absorbed a 45-10 thumping against the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 11, 2009.

Was there anything positive to take from this game?

“No, not right now,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “It was disappointing. I think all three phases, players and coaches, we’ve got to play better than that, a lot better to give ourselves a chance to win.”

The competitive nature of the 49ers’ past five games was one thing. But with a big home loss on such an emotional day, it is fair to say that the honeymoon is over for Shanahan and general manager John Lynch. The 49ers looked like a team devoid of any leadership, and brings more scrutiny onto the organization’s decision last week to release linebacker NaVorro Bowman.

Now, the 49ers face a crossroads. With another cross-country trip ahead, the 49ers have to regroup in a hurry in order to avoid another embarrassing blowout against the Philadelphia Eagles.

2. Beathard’s first start
Rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard certainly was not the reason the 49ers got blown out. In his first NFL start, he showed a lot of toughness, which was to be expected. He was sacked five times. But most of those sacks could have been avoided. He has to get rid of the ball quicker, especially on three-step drops.

Beathard also showed some promise, too. He let the ball fly deep for Marquise Goodwin, who caught four passes for 80 yards. Beathard completed 22 of 38 passes for 235 yards.

Beathard accounted for the 49ers’ only touchdown with a 4-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. There seems to be little doubt it was in the best interest of the organization to begin evaluating what it has for the future with the permanent switch from Brian Hoyer to Beathard.

3. Dwight Clark’s Day
The 49ers, of course, did nothing to evoke any memories of the great teams on which Dwight Clark played. Well, they did look a lot like Clark’s first team with the 49ers.

The 49ers of 1979 lost their first seven games of the season. This year’s team matched that start for the worst beginning to a season in franchise history.

More than 35 of Clark’s teammates off the 1981 Super Bowl team were in attendance to honor a pay tribute to Clark, who is battling ALS. Now in a wheelchair and considerably lighter, Clark delivered some poignant remarks at halftime.

Clark, 60, told his old teammate, Keena Turner, who works as vice president of football affairs, that all he wanted was to see some of his old teammates.

“And the 49ers heard that and flew all these players in, so I could see them one more time,” Clark said.