NCAA

Heisman Watch: R...G...3

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Heisman Watch: R...G...3

We began this journey with the first Heisman Watch on September 11, and today the journey ends with Heisman Watch No. 14.

Earlier today, at around 3:15 PST, Eddie George, the 1995 Heisman Trophy winner, announced the five Heisman finalists.

On Saturday, the winner will be announced in New York City.

It's becoming clear that Robert Griffin III is the favorite, and deservedly so.

Rank Player, Position, School Recent Game Stats Season Stats 1 Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor 15-22, 320 yards, 2 TD, INT, 2 rush TD in 48-24 win over No. 22 Texas 267-369 (72.4), 3998 yards, 36 TD, 6 INT, 644 rush yards, 9 rush TD 2 Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford Idle 261-373 (70), 3170 yards, 35 TD, 9 INT, 2 rush TD 3 Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama Idle 263 rush, 1583 yards (6.0 YPC), 20 rush TD, 327 rec. yards, 3 rush TD 4 Tyrann Mathieu, DB, LSU 62-yard punt return for TD, 4 tackles, TFL, fumble recovery in 42-10 win over No. 14 Georgia 2 punt return TD, 2 fumbles return TD, 70 tackles, 2 INT, 6 forced fumbles 5 Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin 27 rushes, 137 yards, 3 rush TD, rec. TD in 42-39 win over No. 13 Michigan State 275 rushes, 1759 yards (6.4 YPC), 32 rush TD, 255 rec. yards, 6 rec. TD
Snubbed: Matt BarkleyQBUSC, Kellen MooreQBBoise State, Case KeenumQBHouston

Analysis:

1) Robert Griffin III: Back on September 2, in front of a national TV audience, Robert Griffin III completed 21 of 27 passes, for 359 yards and five touchdowns as Baylor upset No. 14 TCU. It was Baylor's first win over a ranked opponent since 2004. Although Griffin continued to put up big numbers in practically every game, the Bears lost three of four games in October, including blowout losses at Texas A&M and Oklahoma State. As a result, Griffin didn't break into the top 5 in our Heisman Watch until just two weeks ago on November 21. Why? Because the trophy isn't just about statistics. Your team needs to win as well. Well, after Griffin completed 21-34 passes for 479 yards, four touchdowns, rushed for 72 yards, and completed a 34-yard touchdown pass with 8 seconds left to upset No. 5 Oklahoma, the Baylor Bears were 7-3, and ranked No. 18 in the country. Griffin became practically a household name over night, and became the "sexy" pick to win the award. The following week against Texas Tech, Griffin wasn't able to play in the second half after suffering a concussion right before halftime. Although he accounted for 168 yards and three touchdowns in the first two quarters, not playing in the second half hurt his chances. He needed a monster performance in Baylor's final game against No. 22 Texas to have a shot. He didn't disappoint. Robert Griffin III has singlehandedly turned Baylor football around, he's been the most exciting player to watch all season long, and deserves to win the award.
- Note: Griffin will become the third player since 1998 to win the award despite the fact his team is not playing in a BCS bowl game (Ricky Williams in '98, and Tim Tebow in '07)2) Andrew Luck: In our Heisman Watch from October 31, Luck had such a big lead in the race he was considered a virtual lock to win the award. He was coming off a "Heisman moment" in which he led the Cardinal back to a triple-overtime win over USC after throwing a pick-six with 3:07 left in regulation to give the Trojans a 34-27 lead. But two weeks later came the 53-30 home loss to Oregon, in which Luck threw two interceptions, one of which was returned for a TD (Yes, I know it was a dropped pass and completely not Andrew's fault, but still -- it didn't help his cause). He had great games against Cal and Notre Dame to finish the season, but he simply didn't do enough to win the award. There are three reasons as to why he won't win: 1) The preseason hype was out of control to the point that no matter what he did, he couldn't live up to the expectations 2) Stanford is a run first team 3) He didn't have the weapons around him -- injuries to Chris Owusu, Zach Ertz, and Levine Toilolo handicapped his ability to put up big numbers and make deep throws down the field. At the end of the day, Andrew Luck may be the best player in Stanford football history, spearheaded a turnaround that saw Stanford improve from 1-11 in 2006 to back-to-back BCS appearances in '10 and '11, and will most likely wind up finishing second in the Heisman two straight years. Unbelievable stuff.3) Trent Richardson: As Scott Reiss noted in "No Luck is bad luck," Richardson, like Luck, was hurt by not having the opportunity to play on "Championship Saturday." Robert Griffin III wasn't playing in a "championship" game, but he took advantage of the schedule and did what he needed to do against Texas in Baylor's regular season finale. Last week, we had Richardson and Luck tied for the top spot, and Richardson certainly didn't do anything to lose the award. Robert Griffin III stole it away from him. The junior has had an unbelievable career at Alabama, and will trade a victory over LSU in the BCS title game for the Heisman any day of the week. 4) Tyrann Mathieu: The last time a defensive player finished in the top 5 of the Heisman voting was Ndamukong Suh in 2009. The last defensive player to win the award was Michigan defensive back Charles Woodson in 1997 (he did register 11 catches for 231 yards, two TDs, and also rushed for a TD). Mathieu has been nothing short of amazing in 2011, and has made some plays that literally made your jaw drop. His defensive exploits are one of the main reasons LSU is playing in the national championship game, and his punt returning capabilities resemble that of a certain Patrick Peterson -- who anchored LSU's secondary a season ago, was drafted No. 5 overall by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2011 NFL Draft, and has tied Devin Hester's NFL single-season-record with four punt returns for touchdowns this season. The bad news for the SEC: Mathieu is a true sophomore and will be back in purple and gold next season, terrorizing opposing quarterbacks. 5) Montee Ball: If the award was based solely on numbers, Montee Ball would hear his name called on Saturday night. His 38 total touchdowns leaves him one behind Barry Sanders' all-time-single-season-record of 39, and there's no reason to believe he won't break that record when Wisconsin takes on Oregon in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 2. Ball is hoping to become the first Badger to win the award since Ron Dayne did so in 1999. It's amazing that a guy with so many touchdowns, who plays at a big-time program like Wisconsin, was able to fly under the radar for so long. In fact, after Wisconsin thumped Nebraska 48-17 back on October 1 (Ball rushed for 151 yards and four touchdowns) it was quarterback Russell Wilson who became a serious Heisman contender, not Ball. However, on Monday, not only did Ball find out he will be in New York City this weekend, but he can legally buy himself a drink to celebrate because he turned 21 on Monday. A day to remember to say the least.

Thank you for following the Heisman Watch all season on CSNBayArea.com. Already looking forward to next season.
Drew Shiller is a Web Producer at CSNBayArea.com. You can follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

Louisville has 'effectively fired' head coach Rick Pitino

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AP

Louisville has 'effectively fired' head coach Rick Pitino

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Louisville has placed coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich on administrative leave amid a federal bribery investigation.

Jurich is on paid leave, while Pitino is on unpaid leave. The coach’s attorney, Steve Spence, told the Courier-Journal Wednesday that Louisville has “effectively fired” Pitino.

Pitino’s exit comes after the school acknowledged on Tuesday that the men’s program is part of a federal investigation into alleged bribery of recruits. The 65-year-old coach was not named in the indictment that resulted in the arrest of 10 people including four assistant coaches at other schools and an Adidas executive.

It is the latest black eye for the Cardinals program. Pitino and Louisville are in the middle of appealing NCAA sanctions following an embarrassing sex scandal.

Jurich has supported Pitino through his transgressions during the athletic director’s nearly 20-year tenure at the university.

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

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AP

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

BOX SCORE

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.

THE TAKEAWAY

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.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

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

UP NEXT

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

CALIFORNIA: Visits No. 24 Oregon on Saturday.