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Does 431 yards in two weeks make a running back a Heisman candidate?

Published September 11, 2012 11:26 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

First off, I'd like to be firmly on record as saying that projecting Heisman Trophy winners in September is assinine. Ranking potential Heisman winners is absurd. Heisman voting is worse than the BCS, but similar. What a guy does in September can't really help his Heisman campaign, but it can certainly derail it.

So much can happen between now and the end of the season that calling even Matt Barkley the Heisman favorite is premature. It takes one bad game, one minor injury — anything. Wisconsin running back Montee Ball put himself in a big hole after Saturday, when Oregon State held the the Badger to 61 yards rushing.

In 2007, Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon was practicaly a shoo-in for the award before he tore his ACL in November, derailing his hopes (this in spite of the fact he ran for a 39-yard touchdown with the ACL torn).

But, of course, it is fun to project and to wonder. And that leads us to Johnathan Franklin. If you are the sort that wonders about the Heisman Trophy now, you are probably wondering where Franklin, a previously off-the-radar running back from UCLA, belongs after two weeks.

Thanks to Franklin, UCLA is starting to garner some national attention.

And it's been a damn fine two weeks. In wins against Rice and Nebraska, he rushed for 214 and 217 yards. He scored three touchdowns. He delivered the popcorn to an elderly woman in row 16 between quarters! (Two fo the three are true.) If there were a Heisman given for the best first two weeks, it would go to Franklin. In fact, there sort of is. There is HeismanPundit.com, which ranks Heisman contenders and, this week, named Franklin the "Heisman Player of the Week."

Not bad for a guy who last year averaged fewer than 70 yards per game.

It's turned into a mock-interesting debate. Chris Foster from the Los Angeles Times weighed in, basically arguing that the folks at HeismanPundit are crazy. Then there was an ESPN commentary on the matter.

The fact is, through two days on the field, no one knows who is the best. We know who is good. And Franklin certainly qualifies. Does Franklin belong in the Heisman discussion? As much or as little as anybody else at this point.

On to the links:

— Utah's Jordan Wynn opted to hang 'em up on Monday after suffering an injury that will require a fourth shoulder surgery. It was a sad, but not unexpected end to an abbreviated career. But that sadness, should be mixed with relief and empathy, writes Kurt Kragthorpe. Even rival BYU feels bad for the Utes. Utah will move forward with either Jon Hays or Travis Wilson at quarterback.

— More Heisman talk.

— A couple of gametimes set for Sept. 22. Cal is at USC at 4 p.m. MT, while Utah will play at ASU at 8 p.m. Both games are on Pac-12 networks. Oregon State and UCLA will kick off on ESPN2 at 1:30 p.m.

— Another big injury for Oregon: this one to senior guard Carson York, who will undergo surgery today to repair his right kneecap. It leaves some big questions on the offensive line.

— Folks in Boulder are rightly still breaking down (or breaking down over?) the loss to FCS Sacramento State on Saturday. Here's John Henderson: "Nothing else in the history of Colorado football matches that humiliation." Don't worry, John. The Pac-12 season is right around the corner to get that taste out of your mouth.

— It doesn't help that the Buffs will likely be without linebacker Doug Rippy miss this week's game at Fresno State.

— The case is made that Saturday was the best regular season day in Pac-10/12 history.

— The Pac-12 has another injured quarterback, but it looks like Washington State's Jeff Tuel will be fine.

— Remember when Utah's Trevor Reilly said he wanted to puke after losing to Utah State? Apparently that bug has traveled to Seattle, where it has afflicted Steve Sarkisian.

— For USC, defense is a point of concern after allowing 29 points against Syracuse.

— They're still debating the Onside Kick That Won't Go Away in Corvallis.

— Bill Oram