As we approach the midway point of the season, the two most realistic Heisman Trophy candidates in this conference just happen to play their football in the state of Alabama.
If this keeps up, the Iron Bowl on Nov. 26 could really have some serious stakes.
Here’s the way I would rank the SEC’s Heisman candidates heading into Week 6:
1. Alabama running back Mark Ingram: He didn’t have a big game numbers-wise, but was still instrumental in Alabama taking control in the first half and thumping Florida 31-6. Ingram scored two more touchdowns and has six in three games and is still leading the SEC in rushing at 118.3 yards per game. The Crimson Tide take on South Carolina this weekend, and it was the Gamecocks Ingram lit up for a Bryant-Denny Stadium-record 246 yards last season to really set his Heisman campaign into motion.
2. Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton: He took it easy on the running last week against Louisiana-Monroe, but threw three touchdown passes in the Tigers’ 52-3 rout to raise his SEC-leading total to 12. Counting his five rushing touchdowns, Newton has accounted for 17 in five games. He’s on track to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards this season. Not even Tim Tebow did that at Florida.
3. LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson: It was a pretty quiet game for Peterson against Tennessee. He did return a punt 26 yards, and there remains talk about him playing some on offense. The Tigers could sure use the help. Big games are upcoming against Florida and Auburn. If Peterson finds the end zone in those games either by returning a kick or interception or doing it on offense, then he’s right back in the race. He’s too explosive of an athlete to count out and the best cornerback in the country.
4. Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett: The three interceptions against Alabama two weeks ago will linger in the voters’ minds, but not nearly as much if Mallett comes back strong and leads the Hogs to a 10-win season or better. He’ll get some good national exposure this week against Texas A&M and still has outstanding overall numbers with 1,438 passing yards and 10 touchdowns in four games. He probably needs a signature win (maybe against Auburn) where he lights it up and the Hogs win if he’s going to climb back into the top tier of candidates.