If the season ended today (OK, I know we’ve only played one week), this is how I would rank the Heisman Trophy contenders in the SEC:
1. Patrick Peterson, CB/RS, LSU: The chances of him actually winning the Heisman Trophy aren’t very realistic, but I didn’t see a more dynamic player across college football the first week. He’s already one of the best cornerbacks in the country and is a touchdown waiting to happen when he drifts back deep on a punt return or kickoff return. Wonder how many more chances he’ll get to return a kick this season after his 87-yard touchdown against North Carolina?
2. Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama: I’m not going to disqualify him from the race just yet. Now, if Ingram misses two more weeks, you can pretty well count him out. Perhaps his backfield mate, Trent Richardson, thrusts himself squarely into the picture with a big game against Penn State this Saturday.
3. Cameron Newton, QB, Auburn: You had to figure that Newton was going to be a lot of fun to watch play in Gus Malzahn’s offense. But the guy is fearless. Defenses have to respect his big arm, but nobody wants a quarterback running for 171 yards against them, either. Newton accounted for five touchdowns and 357 yards of total offense in his Auburn debut.
4. Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas: With Ingram sidelined, Mallett is the SEC’s best hope to stay in the Heisman race for the long haul. He was 21-of-24 for 301 yards, three touchdowns and an interception in the opener. The big stages for him will come later this month against Georgia and Alabama.