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September 2, 2008

Olin Buchanan's Week 1 Heisman ballot

VOTE: Who took the early lead in the Heisman race?

Yes, Florida's Tim Tebow still is a strong candidate to become only the second two-time Heisman Trophy recipient.

No, Pittsburgh tailback LeSean McCoy is not out of the Heisman race after a lackluster showing in an upset loss to Bowling Green. But he'd better break out fast.

And is Ohio State tailback Chris Wells' bid over? That will depend on the seriousness of his foot injury.

Each remains a strong Heisman contenders, and several others will emerge, too. But in trying to balance performance and quality of competition, here's a look at my Heisman leaders as they come out of the gate.

1. USC QB Mark Sanchez: A sore knee obviously wasn't an issue as Sanchez passed for a 338 yards and three touchdowns in a 52-7 pummeling of Virginia. His 49-yard bomb to Ronald Johnson was a thing of beauty. Sanchez has a chance to give his candidacy a huge boost in two weeks when the Trojans face Ohio State.

2. Missouri QB Chase Daniel: Not even an interception returned for a touchdown could tarnish Daniel's opening performance. He passed for 323 yards and three touchdowns in a 52-42 shootout over Illinois, which projects to have a solid defense.

3. West Virginia QB Pat White: Everyone knows White is a rushing threat. He offered a not-too-subtle reminder that he can do damage as a passer, too. White passed for 208 yards and a career-high five touchdown passes in the Mountaineers' 48-21 win over Division I-AA Villanova. By the way, he also rushed for 63 yards.

4. Illinois QB Juice Williams: All spring, the word coming out of Champaign was that Williams was improving as a passer. The word was correct. Williams passed for 451 yards and five touchdowns against Missouri.

5. Wisconsin RB P.J. Hill: The Badgers' star started the season with 210 rushing yards and two touchdowns. OK, so it was against Akron. If he has another productive game against Fresno State in two weeks, Hill will start getting a lot of attention.

VOTE: Who took the early lead in the Heisman race?

Olin Buchanan is a Heisman voter and a senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at olin@rivals.com.

Mississippi State NEWS


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