Maybe Archie Griffin shouldn’t start worrying just yet.
But the former Ohio State running back – and only player to win the heralded Heisman Trophy twice – needs to know that University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow is lurking in the shadows. Tebow’s spectacular performances the last few weeks have put him back into the race for college football’s most prestigious award.
Tebow had five touchdowns during the Gators pounding of Vanderbilt on Saturday night and he didn’t even play the whole game. That scoring binge brought his total to 27 touchdowns in nine games. This recent surge of activity – and the Gators continued dominating play – have probably put him within shouting distance of front-runner and Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell.
Tebow, however, will still need some help if he wants to match Griffin’s remarkable accomplishment. Harrell has already thrown for 36 touchdowns and rushed for 6 more as he has led the Red Raiders to an undefeated season. (Although I wouldn’t be surprised if that doesn’t change in the near future, especially due to an Nov. 22 date with Oklahoma in Norman.)
Heisman voters are likely looking for any reason to avoid giving Tebow the repeat and right now Harrell’s outstanding performances – including a six-touchdown game against Oklahoma State – are enough to for Heisman voters to go the other way. (Although I could go on a whole rant about how Heisman voters in the past have consistently chosen the wrong guy, and how they have always shafted defensive players.)
But the one thing on Tebow’s side is that he’s got at least two more chances against quality opponents before many voters turn in their ballots. The Gators take on both South Carolina and Florida State in November, while Texas Tech has that date against Oklahoma before finishing up against hapless Baylor, which is right now 3-6. If Tebow can rack up yards and touchdowns against these two opponents then Tebow may be able to convince voters to do the unthinkable. (I realize of course this is easier said than done. I think that FSU-UF game in Tallahassee will be a lot tighter than some may expect and that the Seminoles will be one of the few teams to slow down the Gators offense.)
But Tebow’s also got to have help from Oklahoma. Harrell will be on a national stage again when the Sooners take on the Red Raiders. If Bob Stoops and his squad shut down the phenom then Tebow has a fighting chance. But if Harrell goes into Norman and rips apart the Oklahoma secondary, he will be anointed the trophy winner then and there.