Williams begins to strike Heisman pose

Ed Cabello

Ricky Williams running Towards Heisman This year, college football has taken an interesting turn for the better. For the first year the No. 1- and No. 2-ranked teams will play for the national championship in the Fiesta Bowl. While many teams are in contention for the No. 1 spot, many athletes are striding toward the Heisman Trophy, the most prestigious trophy in college football. The main criteria for each candidate is what that particular player means to his team or program. Look at the University of Texas at Austin – there’s no way that team is 5-2 without Ricky Williams. The University of Kentucky Wildcats, behind quarterback Tim Couch, who is on pace to destroy every NCAA passing record, had a chance to become bowl-eligible last week, but are now 5-3. (What is 5-3???) There’s not a prayer that could have brought a victory to that miserable program without Couch.

UCLA’s Cade McNown is in the mix of things also, but he has not backed up his phenomenal previous season. The Bruins are in the mix for the national championship hunt, but would also not be in contention if it wasn’t for their quarterback. The same goes for University of Wisconsin at Madison; it has a chance to run the table in the Big Ten, but cannot do it without running back Ron Dayne. These guys are not only having great seasons, they’re carrying the hopes of their teams with them.

I put my money on Williams as the early front-runner in the Heisman. McNown and Couch are right behind him, and due to the year Ohio State University is having, Joe Germaine puts himself in the mix. Throw in Dayne because of the surge Wisconsin has had lately and we have a potpourri of contenders for a race that will heat up as the season progresses.

I’m not saying Williams (1,384 yards, 24 TDs) has completely pulled away from the pack. The fact that the Longhorns are winning and many people counted them out is because of Ricky. He appeared really sluggish at the beginning of the year, but since has gone into overdrive. Texas is also throwing the ball with some effectiveness. Wayne McGarity being a real threat at receiver and stretching the defense a bit has helped Williams, too.

Couch has completed 286-of-399 passes for 3,108 yards and puts up big numbers every week. He’s extremely accurate and completes about 70 percent of his throws while averaging over 300 yards in the air a game.

But last week’s loss at home to the University of Georgia shut out the chances he and Kentucky would get on the map. McNown (1,607 yards, 12 TDs) is gaining momentum, but so is UCLA as a team. UCLA is a well-known team, so as the nation notices them, it will pay attention to McNown as well. Michael Bishop (1,553 yards, 15 TDs) is an interesting character. He barely completes 50 percent of his passes, but always seems to make multiple prime-time plays.

K-State is in the middle of a national championship run, but his numbers don’t really compare to the other quarterbacks in the group. While Syracuse University and Donovon McNabb were idle this week, Ohio State and UCLA threw up some numbers and so did Couch. That may have affected him. ps, gk cw