And then there were five.. the 2011 Heisman finalists

Nick Cremona

Robert Griffin III QB Baylor
Week 14 vs. Texas- Passing: 15/22 (68.2%) for 320 yards, 2 TD 1 INT Rushing: 12 carries for 32 yards, 2 TD
Season Stats- Passing: 267/369 (72.4%) for 3,998 yards, 36 TD 6 INT Rushing: 161 carries for 644 yards (4.0 ypc), 9 TD

Remember all that talk by the Longhorns’ defense about how RGIII wasn’t going to win the Heisman against them? Well, he may have done just that last week. Against what proved to be a pretty tenacious Texas defense in the second half of the season, Griffin executed and came out with yet another big win. In the last five games Griffin has scored no less than three touchdowns and has only tossed two interceptions. The 9-3 (6-3) mark that Griffin has led the Bears to is the most successful any team from Waco has been in decades. It’s not likely that Griffin will return for his senior season after the arcade-like numbers he put up this year. However, he has an excellent chance of becoming the only Bears’ player to ever win the Heisman.

Trent Richardson RB Alabama
Week 14- DNP
Season Stats- Rushing: 263 rushes for 1,583 yards (6.0 ypc), 20 TD Receiving: 27 receptions for 327 yards (12.1 ypc), 3 TD

All of the BCS imperfections aside, the rematch between Alabama and LSU should be another game that is decided by the slimmest of margins. Whenever the nation’s top offensive and defensive lines clash you can’t help but fix your eyes on the action. Richardson has been one of the most consistent backs in the nation throughout this year, scoring at least once in every game but one- against LSU. He’s also among the nation’s leading rushers and like many other juniors, will likely forego his senior season to enter the NFL draft. In the end, Richardson’s numbers may not stack up as well, but he has put this team on his back the entire year and is easily the most important offensive player for the Tide.

Andrew Luck QB Stanford
Week 14- DNP
Season Stats- Passing: 261/373 (70.0%) for 3,170 yards, 35 TD 9 INT Rushing: 43 carries for 153 yards, 2 TD

Luck wasn’t able to sway voters any more this past week as Oregon and UCLA duked it out for the Pac-12 title, but his Heisman chances haven’t been squelched quite yet. Head coach David Shaw has been campaigning for Luck ever since the season came to a close two weeks ago, and he’s showing no signs of easing up, either. It’s a shame that the Heisman isn’t given out after the conclusion of bowl season because Luck could have a career night in the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma State. While Luck was the clear favorite to win the Heisman throughout most of the year, he sort of leveled off as the season drew to a close and allowed both Griffin and Richardson to garner more attention. Luck threw six interceptions in his final five games, including two in a crucial loss to Oregon.

Montee Ball RB Wisconsin
Week 14 at Michigan State- Rushing: 27 carries for 137 yards (5.1 ypc), 3 TD Receiving: 3 receptions for 7 yards, 1 TD
Season Stats- Rushing: 275 carries for 1,759 yards (6.4 ypc), 32 TD Receiving: 20 receptions for 255 yards (12.8 ypc), 6 TD

It’s crazy to think that the hype surrounding a player from Baylor has overshadowed one of the greatest single-season performances of the past decade. Well, at Wisconsin at least. Ball now owns a couple Badger all-time records, including most rushing touchdowns in a season (32), most points scored in a season (230). His 38 total touchdowns also rank first on the Badgers’ all-time list, a record previously held by the always entertaining Ron Dayne. Ball is also the nation’s leading rusher and scorer this season. The next closest player on the scoring list this year is Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein with 156 points, which makes it a little easier to see just how dominant Ball was for the Badgers this year. Stat-wise, Ball may have the most impressive resume; it’s not easy running for 30-plus touchdowns, especially in the Big Ten.

Tyrann Mathieu CB LSU
Week 14 vs. Georgia-
4 solo tackles, 4 punt returns for 119 yards (29.75 avg.), 1 TD
Season Stats- 71 total tackles (54 solo), 2 sacks, 2 INT, 6 forced fumbles (4 recovered), 4 total TD (2 fumble returns, 2 punt returns)

This is one player that opponents must absolutely dread playing against. Mathieu has an innate sense for not only ripping the ball away from his offensive counterparts, but also putting the ball in the endzone after he’s separated it from a player. He’s been nicknamed “Honey Badger” for his ferocious defensive skill-set and his ability to completely change a game in an instant. Nevermind his play on defense, Mathieu is a top-notch punt returner with a nose for sparking big returns. More than once this season Mathieu has brought his team to life after a lengthy punt return. He may not take home the Heisman this season, but for the sheer excitement he’s provided this year he deserves the invite to New York. Give Mathieu one more year under coach Les Miles and he could be much higher on this list at the end of next season.