Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Matt Ryan, Heisman Candidate? Part I: Analyzing the Losses

Between now and Friday, we will be doing a little something we're calling Matt Ryan, Heisman Candidate?. It will be a 4 part series with one post each day. The schedule is Analyzing the Losses (Tuesday), Ryan at the Turn (Wednesday), Why Matty Won't Win (Thursday), and Why Matty Will Win (Friday). Here is Part I:

For the most part, mainstream media members keep saying that Saturday's loss to Florida State probably ended Matt Ryan's Heisman Trophy chances. Surely, one loss in which the BC quarterback threw for 415 yards and 2 touchdowns couldn't have been that bad, could it? The popular response will be that those numbers were negated by the fact that Ryan threw 3 interceptions, including one that was returned for a TD in the final minutes. If a momentary meltdown in the clutch precludes a player from winning the Heisman, then the trophy will not be given out this year. Consider the current leading candidates in their teams' losses:

  • Dennis Dixon: vs. Cal (6-3) in Eugene- 31/44, 306 yards, 2 touchdowns (1 rushing), 2 interceptions. On the surface, Dixon appears to have played an average game. His two interceptions, however, both came in the final 5:46. The first INT set up Cal's game winning touchdown.
  • Tim Tebow: vs. UGA (7-2) in Jacksonville- 14/22, 236 yards, 3 touchdowns (2 rushing), -15 yards rushing. In Florida's 3 losses, Tebow has averaged 241 total yards and an interception, but the Georgia game stands out the most. Tebow had a career worst day on the ground and his fumble in the red zone with 2:23 left in the game allowed the Bulldogs to get one first down and put the game away.
  • Darren McFadden: vs. Auburn (7-3) in Fayetville- 17 carries, 43 yards. At home, against Arkansas's toughest opponent of the season to date, McFadden was a non-factor. In the other 2 losses by the Razorbacks, McFadden had big rushing totals but also fumbled the ball once.
  • Chase Daniel: vs. Oklahoma (8-1) in Norman- 37/47, 361 yards, touchdown, 2 interceptions, fumble. In Missouri's only game against an opponent that is currently ranked, Daniel threw two picks and the fumble was inside his own 20. It was returned for an Oklahoma touchdown early in the 4th quarter and made it a 2-score game.
  • Mike Hart has played the best in his team's losses of any popular Heisman pick. He was the bright spot for the Wolverines in both games actually. There is a chance that Michigan could play in a BCS bowl, even with a loss to Ohio State. As we stated in September, no HT winner since 2000 has played for a 3-loss team and only 1 HT winner since the advent of the Bowl Championship Series has failed to lead his team to a BCS game. Hart will need to actually play and play well to overcome those factors.
As you can see, playing poorly in a loss is a knock against all of the Heisman Candidates right now. In fact, Dixon and McFadden had bad days at home, while Tebow was on a neutral field. There seems to be an extreme backlash against Ryan right now because pundits had just anointed him as the leader. It also does not help that the rest of the country waited until late October to watch him play and then were treated to uneven performances in horrible conditions. We think that if Ryan plays well in the 3 (or 4) games left on BC's schedule, he can overcome the Florida State loss and, at the very least, will be right in the thick of an extremely close Heisman vote.


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