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Running Away
College football insider: The 2006 Heisman Trophy race
Adrian Peterson's absence punched a hole in the Heisman race, leaving Troy Smith a clear favorite

By George Schroeder Published: November 9, 2006
Took a poll the other day. Seemed like the thing to do, considering the time of year.

Among likely Heisman voters, I found no surprises — if the election were held today, Ohio State's Troy Smith would be the runaway winner.

"He's so far ahead, I don't even know who's second," said one savvy pundit.

Brady Quinn? Brian Brohm? Those quarterbacks named Colt (McCoy of Texas, Brennan of Hawaii)?

Nice candidates, good resumes. But according to the voters, each has his drawbacks. Unless Quinn's platform as Notre Dame quarterback sways 'em in the 11th hour, no one appears likely to seriously challenge Smith.

Some are ready to predict a landslide, and maybe the biggest ever. And so, in the spirit of the season, here's the alternative I posed:

What if there was a tailback — a former Heisman finalist — with 1,375 yards through nine games (a 152.8-yard average)? Seeing through the ruse, the likely voters answered:

Yep, if Adrian Peterson was still running, "he'd be right in there," said one respondent.

And there's the shame of it all.

As it turns out, A.D.'s snapped collarbone didn't leave the gigantic void in Oklahoma's offense many predicted. But it punched a huge hole in the Heisman race.

Perhaps you haven't paid quite as much attention, because like so many other things in this strange autumn — the BCS argument bothering anyone? — when it comes to the Heisman race, OU fans find themselves in the unfamiliar position of disinterested bystanders.

But the polls show it's been a cakewalk so far for Smith, who has been the runaway leader in a race that didn't have a returning finalist (at least, not a 2005 finalist).

By mid-October, it was shaping up as a two-horse race. While Smith was the front-runner after shredding Texas, Peterson was running a strong campaign through six games — 935 yards and 10 touchdowns, without a subpar game.

This brings us to the 1,375 yards, which is the combined total of Peterson and Allen Patrick, his replacement. In three games since Peterson's injury, Patrick has 440 yards.

Sudden thought: Together, they make a highly attractive ticket.

"If you can box that up and get approval from the Heisman committee, I'll give you my vote," said one extremely likely voter.

Can't be done, of course.

And no one has stepped into the Heisman void left by Peterson.

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