Dayne Impressing Voters

Ron Dayne's sense of timing is impeccable.

With Heisman ballots due to be mailed out this week, The Great One made his definitive statement Saturday against Purdue. The 222 rushing yards left him 99 shy of Ricky Williams' Division I-A career record. Barring a sudden importation of talent, Iowa figures to be the best supporting actors in Dayne's run for the record Saturday.

Drew Brees handed Dayne the Heisman -- figuratively, of course -- in their postgame meeting after Wisconsin's 28-21 victory. The nation's Heisman voters should fall in line during the next month.

In anticipation, the Heisman Watch wanted a first glance. It asked 11 sportswriters around the country with Heisman votes for their top five candidates after Saturday's games.

It's no surprise that Dayne won. But it is surprising that it wasn't a landslide. Georgia Tech quarterback Joe Hamilton, apparently, is still in the running based on the results. Brees still got one first-place vote despite throwing yet another interception that resulted in a touchdown.

Marshall's Chad Pennington was on more ballots (three) than Florida State's Peter Warrick (two). Others getting votes included Tennessee quarterback Tee Martin, Minnesota defensive back Tyrone Carter, Penn State defensive end Courtney Brown, Virginia Tech defensive end Corey Moore and Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Vick.

Candidates were given five points for first, four points for second, and so on. First-place votes are listed in parentheses. A list of voters appears below:

No. Name Pos. School
1 Ron Dayne, 52 points (8) RB Wisconsin
What else is there to say except lay off the tacos, big boy, and it looks you might have a future in athletics. Barry Alvarez and the loss to Cincinnati almost blew it early in the season. Alvarez decided he wouldn't go out of his way to promote his star, then proved it by taking him out at halftime of easy victories. All that stands between Wisconsin and a sure BCS berth is Dayne's fumble at Cincinnati. Voters have forgotten. What the Dayner lacks in personality -- that hurt him up until now -- he's made up with sheer power. Iowa is the perfect punching bag for Dayne to run up some real numbers. He's only 382 yards fom the magic 2,000-yard mark. It would be one of the top-five performances of all time but he's done everything else. Why not one more super human effort?
2 Joe Hamilton, 34 points (2) QB Georgia Tech
The loss to Virginia on Saturday doomed Joe Ham's candidacy. But, oh, what a ride it's been. Early in the season he cracked the code on Florida State's defense and almost beat the Seminoles by himself. He got more notoriety in that game than he did his whole career. A trip to New York will be a nice consolation prize. Hamilton leads the nation in passing efficiency (179.5) and became the ACC total offense leader (9,478) in yards against Virginia. What's the most amazing is that Hamilton is seventh in ACC rushing.
3 Drew Brees, 26 points (1) QB Purdue
The Mole Men would be nowhere without Brees these past two seasons. But, truthfully, Brees could improve on his ability to read defenses. He seems to cough up at least one crucial turnover each game via interception or fumble. It's hard to forget that Purdue had Penn State beat last month. Having reached the Nittany Lions 12 with less than a minute to play, none of Brees' four passes gave the Boilers a chance to win. His story is cute and courageous but his record against ranked teams is only 2-4. The 11 interceptions this season are disturbing. There were 85 rushing yards Saturday, which was only 147 yards behind Dayne.
4 Thomas Jones, 21 points RB Virginia
The nation's leading rusher carried a school-record 39 times for 213 yards in a victory over Georgia Tech. The senior owns the ACC records for 200-yard games in a season (three) and career (five). He's on pace for 1,8000 yards this season against the nation's second-toughest schedule. Two problems: No one knew anything about this guy until a few weeks ago and Virginia is only 5-4. Too much, too late. Heisman voters can't process that much information.
5 Shaun Alexander, 14 points RB Alabama
It was a great run but Alexander was knocked out by a tender ankle. He didn'play against Southern Miss nine days ago and managed only 18 yards Saturday against LSU. By the end of this season he might be known as the greatest back in Alabama history but he won't be the greatest back in the country.

The voters:
Lee Barfknecht, Omaha World-Herald
Vahe Gregorian, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Tony Barnhart, Atlanta-Journal Constitution
Dick Weiss, New York Daily News
Blair Kerkhoff, Kansas City Star
Dave Sittler, Tulsa World
Steve Richardson, executive director, Football Writers Association of America
Don Borst, West Coast managing editor CBS SportsLine
Anthony Gimino, CBS SportsLine college football editor
Mark Blaudschun, Boston Globe
Tom Kensler, Denver Post.

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