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Friday, July 20, 2007

Keller & Lucky Heisman Darkhorses?

That's what Heisman Pundit believes. Here is his rationale:
So, who has a shot of coming out of nowhere to win this thing?

First, I'd say to look no further than the Big 12. The conference has been the home of unexpected Heisman runs of late, from Josh Heupel's second-place in 2000, to Jason White's 2003 win to Adrian Peterson's 2004 runner-up finish.

The league seems to be conducive to quick-starting candidacies.

Sam Keller, QB, Nebraska--I can't seem to shake the possibilities with Keller. Think about it. He plays for a traditional Heisman power that has been fairly mediocre of late. He has good name recognition and is respected as a pro prospect. He comes to the Big 12 from a quarterback league, so he could conceivable pick up where he left off at Arizona State (where he averaged 316 yards per game as a starter). The Nebraska schedule has plenty of big games for him to make his case, from USC in game 3, to Texas in game 9 and a potential Big 12 title game.

What's more, his team does not have to go undefeated for him to win the Heisman. He could lead the Huskers to an impressive 11-2 record and a Big 12 title and get credited for leading a resurgent program, much like Carson Palmer did with USC in 2002. Beating USC would be huge, but even a close loss in which he played well would help if combined with a strong season in which he put up Jason White-like numbers. Keep an eye on him.

Marlon Lucky, RB, Nebraska--I know. What the hell is this guy doing here, you might ask? Well, after all, these are dark horses. But consider the case of Mr. Lucky (great name, by the way). He plays for a traditional power that might get a boost this year because of improved quarterback play from the aforementioned Keller. It stands to reason that an improved passing game will lead to a more effective running game. Hence, Lucky's rushing yardage seems likely to go up.

Lucky, for those who don't remember, is a talent. He was one of the top backs in the country coming out of high school. He got lost in the cornfields as a freshman, but he ran for 728 yards and six touchdowns last year, though a great chunk of his yardage came against horrible competition. He also did well as a receiver, catching 32 balls. When you take into account the early entry in the draft of Brandon Jackson, you would do well to assume that Jackson's 969 yards will be reapportioned elsewhere. The likely beneficiary of most of those yards is Lucky. What if he gets 1,500-plus yards and has big games against USC and Texas? Well, he just might luck his way into the Heisman race.
Heisman Pundit, definitely knows his way around the famous stiff-arm statue, so his mention of these two Huskers should be duly noted.