Sunday, November 12|
Sooners, Heupel in BCS driver's seat
By Mel Kiper Jr.
With just one full weekend of games still to be played, we now have an unbeaten at the top of the rankings as well as a front-runner for the Heisman Trophy.
I'm referring to the Oklahoma Sooners and their brilliant senior quarterback, Josh Heupel.
Once again on Saturday, the poised southpaw showed the nation why he's so highly regarded. After trailing at the half for the first time this season, Heupel responded like a champion when the game was on the line.
And it wasn't always with his accurate throwing arm.
Heupel proved once again that he can improvise and create whenever things break down. On several occasions, Heupel frustrated the A&M defense with his ability to tuck the ball away and pick up nice chunks of real estate.
Thus far, he has orchestrated key victories over Texas, Kansas State, Nebraska and Texas A&M, with only the victory against Nebraska coming on the Sooners' home field in Norman. That tells you all you need to know.
Also keep in mind, in the 63-14 route of Texas at the Cotton Bowl in early October, Heupel dealt flawlessly with inclement weather conditions. The Sooners and Heupel were able to hold off a Kansas State rally in their 41-31 victory at Manhattan. Then, against Nebraska, Heupel engineered the comeback after the Sooners had fallen behind 14-0 early in the second quarter.
His effort against Texas A&M proved once again that Heupel can deal with adversity as well as a hostile environment. Kyle Field in College Station, with 87,000 screaming fans, is a tough place to win.
What Heupel and the Sooners accomplished speaks volumes about their talent, focus and preparation. Credit Bob Stoops and his fine staff for a job well done.
As we all know, the season is far from over. There is still lots of football to be played.
For the Sooners, they go up against their former offensive coordinator, Mike Leach, this week when the Texas Tech Red Raiders come to Owen Field in Norman. On Saturday, sophomore quarterback Kliff Kingsbury sparked the Red Raiders to a decisive 58-0 shellacking of Oklahoma State.
Following their game with Texas Tech, the Sooners close out the regular season with a road trip to Stillwater to face the 2-7 Oklahoma State Cowboys. Then comes the Big 12 championship game, which will provide Kansas State with another opportunity to knock off the Sooners.
Currently, Florida State, Miami (Fla.) and Florida are all in the hunt for a spot in the Orange Bowl. That will change on Saturday, when Florida travels to Tallahassee to take on the Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium. The winner remains in the race, while the loser waits until next year to possibly win the national championship.
The Seminoles don't have a conference championship game to worry about, so the regular season for FSU comes to an end Saturday. Florida still has the SEC championship game. As for Miami (Fla.), they face Syracuse at the Carrier Dome on Saturday before closing things out by hosting Boston College at the Orange Bowl on Nov. 25.
Weinke trails Heupel in Heisman race
|Josh Heupel hopes to lead the Sooners to a national title.|
As far as the Heisman race is concerned, I view Heupel as the current front-runner. After Purdue's 30-10 loss at Michigan State, Drew Brees steps aside, allowing Chris Weinke to become the primary challenger for Heupel.
Weinke and the Seminoles struggled to just a 14-7 lead over 1-8 Wake Forest on Saturday before cruising to a 35-6 victory. Weinke wasn't flawless, but he performed exceptionally well in the second half against the outmanned Demon Deacons.
If Weinke comes through with a solid showing Saturday, leading the Seminoles to a victory over the red-hot Florida Gators, there is no question that Weinke would be worthy of strong consideration for the Heisman Trophy.
Of late, the Tennessee Volunteers have been proving that they have as much young talent on hand as just about any team in the country. True freshman signal caller Casey Clausen has to be viewed as a star of the future, which could be next year if things fall right.
And how about Virginia Tech's third-year sophomore running back Lee Suggs? He's been a scoring machine this year, combining strength and balance with home-run hitting speed.
If you're wondering who is the best young wide-out in college football, look no further than Texas Longhorn freshman Roy Williams. With his size (6-5, 210), deep speed and natural pass-receiving skills, Williams is fast becoming a feared wide-out with the capability to overmatch the cornerbacks he goes up against in the Big 12.