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September 14, 2011

Heisman watch: Lattimore in the running

Portraits of the 74 Heisman Trophy recipients adorn the walls of the BestBuy Theatre in New York every December during the trophy presentation ceremony.

the awards watch
A weekly look at the top three candidates for some key postseason awards.
Doak Walker
(best running back)
(most outstanding wide receiver)
(top tight end)
(most outstanding center)
(best interior lineman)
(most outstanding defensive player)
(most outstanding linebacker)
(most outstanding defensive back)
Lou Groza
(top kicker)
Ray Guy
(top punter)

Six of those portraits are of running backs who played in the for schools that are currently in the SEC: Frank Sinkwich and Herschel Walker of Georgia, Billy Cannon of LSU, Bo Jackson of Auburn, Mark Ingram of Alabama and George Rogers of South Carolina.

It would come as no surprise if a seventh SEC running back is added in December, especially after the performance of South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore in last week's thrilling 45-42 victory over Georgia.

Lattimore rushed for 176 yards and scored a touchdown in the victory over the Bulldogs. Most impressive was that he gained 94 yards on 13 carries in a fourth-quarter tug-of-war in which he put the power in the Gamecocks' power sweep.

"Marcus had a super fourth quarter, and we had some good blocking on that little sweep at the end and some others play, too," South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said. "We're a running team, no question about it. That's how we're going to win if we're going to beat anybody -- run the ball and sneak a few passes in."

Any team with a running back of Lattimore's caliber should be a running team.

[More South Carolina: Visit GamecockCentral.com]

As a true freshman last season, Lattimore was a key factor in the Gamecocks' transformation from a 7-6 disappointment in 2009 to the SEC East winner.

He rushed for 1,197 yards in 2010. He already has gained 288 yards and scored four touchdowns this season. That puts him on pace to rush for 1,728 yards and 24 touchdowns in the regular season and 1,872 yards and 26 touchdowns should the Gamecocks return to the SEC championship game.

That would be more yardage than any of the SEC's Heisman recipients gained during their trophy-winning seasons.

The top five candidates this week:

1. QB Robert Griffin, Baylor: The Bears were off last week, but that does not cloud the memory of Griffin's 359-yard, five-touchdown performance in the season-opening victory over TCU.

2. RB Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina: He was brilliant in rushing for 176 yards and a touchdown in a 45-42 victory over Georgia. He has rushed for 288 yards and four touchdowns this season.

3. QB Kellen Moore, Boise State: Boise also was idle, which just offered more time to think about how good he was in a season-opening win over Georgia. He threw for 261 yards and three touchdowns against the Bulldogs.

4. QB Andrew Luck, Stanford: Luck, the consensus preseason pick to win the Heisman, hasn't done anything not to remain among the top candidates. Thus far, he has completed 68.5 percent of his attempts for 461 yards and six touchdowns, but he has yet to play strong competition.

5. QB Denard Robinson, Michigan: He accounted for 446 yards of total offense against Notre Dame. He threw three touchdown passes and ran for another in the fourth quarter along to lead the Wolverines to a come-from-behind victory.

Olin Buchanan is a senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at olin@rivals.com, and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.

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