STILLWATER — Last Monday, Brandon Weeden sat on a stool and answered question after question about his sudden rise to becoming a Heisman frontrunner.
A week later, Weeden may be back on the outside of the Heisman pack after Oklahoma State's 37-31 double-overtime loss at Iowa State.
Such is the nature of what has recently become a topsy-turvy Heisman race — one that was dominated by Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck for two-thirds of the season but has seen some serious shakeup over the past two weeks.
Now, Chris Huston of Heismanpundit.com projects Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III as Luck's biggest challenger for the award, while Weeden is expected to drop to fifth or sixth in his latest straw poll that will come out later this week.
“There are some candidates who, by virtue of their overwhelming statistics and reputation, are not as dependent as team success as others,” said Huston, who analyzes trends in Heisman voting. “Brandon's name wasn't as big coming into the season, so he was a little bit more dependent on kind of riding the team's success, combined with what he's been doing, to the Heisman.”
The nature of the Cowboys' loss also played a big role in Weeden's drop. It came on national television on a Friday night. And even though Weeden passed for 476 yards and three touchdowns, he also tossed three interceptions, including one on his first pass of double overtime to set up the Cylcones' game-winning touchdown.
“All would have been forgiven if he could have pulled that game out,” Huston said. “It hurt especially because people will see it was missed opportunity for the program, potentially.
“They'll still acknowledge that it was a great season and he's a great quarterback, but boy, it's just that opportunity was kind of frittered away. I think that's kind of what hurts him the most.”
The following night, Griffin turned in a brilliant performance in Baylor's upset of Oklahoma, accounting for 551 of the Bears' 616 total offensive yards and leading them on an 80-yard game-winning touchdown drive in the final minute. That vaulted Griffin, who was an early Heisman frontrunner before Baylor lost three of four games in October, right back into serious contention.
Another indicator of Weeden's quick fall? He was not named a finalist for the Davey O'Brien award given annually to the nation's top quarterback. Luck, Griffin and Houston's Case Keenum are still in contention for that award.
Huston said Luck and Griffin are locks to get invited to New York, with Alabama running back Trent Richardson close behind. The Heisman Trust will invite up to five finalists, and who could fill those last two spots will be determined over the next two weeks.
OSU has a bye this weekend, which Huston said actually benefits Weeden because of the other marquee games being played that will likely have the voters' attention. Weeden will get his stage next Saturday night, when the Cowboys try to clinch the Big 12 title outright and their first trip to a BCS bowl game with a Bedlam victory against OU.
“If he has a massive game…he's got a chance to get to get back in there,” Huston said. “You never know how the race can shake out.”
HEISMAN STOCK REPORT
A wild weekend of college football means the Heisman race is still wide open. A look at who is rising, who is falling and the top 5 candidates right now.
Robert Griffin III, quarterback, Baylor
Griffin had the epitome of a Heisman moment Saturday night against Oklahoma when he led Baylor on a game-winning, 80-yard touchdown drive in the game's final minute and capped it with a perfect 34-yard strike to Terrance Williams in the back of the end zone. RG3 is right back in the race, despite his team's three losses, because there's no player in college football with more ‘wow' factor.
Montee Ball, running back, Wisconsin
Ball had another monster game against Illinois, racking up 224 yards and three total touchdowns. He's got 30 touchdowns (25 rushing, five receiving) this season, but his Heisman chances have been hurt by the fact that his quarterback, Russell Wilson, has been regarded as the Badgers' candidate for the award for most of the season. He sits just outside the top 5 right now.
Brandon Weeden, quarterback, Oklahoma State
Weeden, a Heisman frontrunner just a week ago, passed for 476 yards and three touchdowns against Iowa State. But voters will remember his three interceptions, especially the one that came on his first pass of double overtime, which helped the Cyclones pull off the 37-31 upset. Weeden will have a chance to make a strong final statement when the Cowboys face OU in two weeks.
Kellen Moore, quarterback, Boise State
Moore was great in Boise State's win against San Diego State, throwing for 366 yards and four touchdowns. But the Broncos' loss to TCU is starting to have an effect. Moore just doesn't have any buzz for the award right now, and Boise State doesn't have any high-profile games remaining to give him a boost.
UPDATED HEISMAN TOP 5
1. Andrew Luck, quarterback, Stanford
2. Robert Griffin III, quarterback, Baylor
3. Trent Richardson, running back, Alabama
4. Brandon Weeden, quarterback, Oklahoma State
5. Case Keenum, quarterback, Houston