Auburn’s Cam in Heisman hunt
Posted: Tuesday, December 7, 2010 6:10 pm
By: By JOHN MARSHALL, AP Sports Writer
Auburn quarterback Cam Newton and Oregon running back LaMichael James, two of the nation’s most dynamic players, will meet in the national championship game next month.
First, a stop in New York.
Newton and James were named finalists for the Heisman Trophy on Monday, and will be joined by Stanford’s Andrew Luck and Kellen Moore of Boise State for Saturday’s announcement in Times Square.
Newton overcame a pay-to-play scandal with a superb season on the field, piling up nearly 4,000 combined yards and 49 touchdowns in leading the top-ranked Tigers into the Jan. 10 national championship game.
James and the Ducks will be there waiting for them in the desert after he piled up more yards and touchdowns than anyone else in FBS, helping the second-ranked Ducks into their first national title game.
Newton is the favorite, but the question is whether voters will look past the scandal with his dad.
In his final regular-season game, he threw four TD passes and scored two more on the ground in Auburn’s 56-17 rout of 18th-ranked South Carolina that earned Auburn the SEC championship and a shot at its first national title since 1957.
The knock against Newton is the shenanigans by his father, Cecil.
The elder Newton was accused of working with the owner of a scouting service to get up to $180,000 for his son to play for at Mississippi State.
If voters steer away from Newton, James could swoop in and become the first Oregon player to win college football’s most prestigious individual award.
James was the main cog in Oregon’s nearly point-a-minute offense, forcing teams to key on him while the rest of his talented teammates ran all over the field.
He closed out the regular season by gaining 134 yards in Oregon’s 37-20 win over rival Oregon State on Saturday that clinched the school’s first trip to the national title game.
Luck was second fiddle to Washington’s Heisman hopeful Jake Locker to open the season, but quickly established himself as the Pac-10’s best quarterback.
The 6-foot-4 junior won a lopsided battle over Locker and his Huskies early in the season and guided the fifth-ranked Cardinal to one of the best seasons in school history.
Moore wasn’t much of a Heisman hopeful early in the season, but quickly played his way into the picture while leading the Broncos to the cusp of a BCS bowl berth.
Alabama’s Mark Ingram, the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner, wasn’t much of a factor in his bid to repeat.
The bruising running back missed the first two games after offseason knee surgery and wasn’t nearly as dynamic as a year ago, rushing for 816 yards, half his total from a year ago. His team also had its repeat national title hopes fizzle with an early-season loss to South Carolina and later losses to LSU and Newton’s Tigers.
AP Sports Writer John Zenor contributed to this story.