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November 4, 2008

Olin Buchanan's Week 10 Heisman ballot

VOTE: Who is the front-runner for the Heisman?

After Saturday's thrilling 39-33 victory over Texas, Mike Leach Texas Tech's maverick coach - said he has little interest in the Heisman Trophy race. But in the same breath, he endorsed his quarterback Graham Harrell as a Heisman candidate.

Any flip-flopping politician would surely be impressed by Leach, who also dismissed the Heisman race as politics.

"I realize how political it is," Leach said. "I find it pretty much a waste of time. But those who didn't have (Harrell) on the list probably should put him on it."

The Heisman race is political? Other than the polls, the surveys, the candidates and campaigns for votes, how is the Heisman race political?

Well, no matter what anyone thinks about the race, Leach is right that Harrell needs to be at the top of the list of contenders after leading the Red Raiders on the last-minute drive against Texas.

Harrell has guided Texas Tech to an unbeaten record. He leads the nation in passing yards. He's thrown 30 touchdown passes and only five interceptions while completing more than 70 percent of his attempts. He completed five passes on the game-winning drive against Texas. And the clinching 28-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree against Texas is the single biggest play of the season.

What else does he need?

The right attitude, perhaps? He has that, too.

"You can't pay too much attention to [the Heisman race]," Harrell said. "I see some of that and hear some of that, but at the same time, you have to focus more on trying to win games.

"Everyone understands it's all about winning games and playing as a team. Individual recognition comes, but it doesn't come unless you win."

1. QB Graham Harrell, Texas Tech: Harrell leads the nation with 3,621 passing yards and has thrown for 30 touchdowns for the unbeaten Red Raiders. Is it even necessary to again bring up what he did last week?

2. QB Colt McCoy, Texas: Statistically, last week's game against Texas Tech was McCoy's worst of the season. He threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown and ran out of bounds late in the game when he should have stayed in-bounds to milk the clock. But he still passed for two touchdowns and rallied his team back from a 16-point deficit. On his last play of the game, Texas had the lead.

3. QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma: Bradford's five touchdown passes in last week's 62-28 victory over Nebraska marked the fourth time this season he has thrown five touchdown passes in a game. Bradford has exceeded 300 yards passing in seven of the past eight games.

4. QB Tim Tebow, Florida: Images of his 2007 Heisman campaign were stoked with his five-touchdown performance in Saturday's win over Georgia. Tebow's statistics aren't as gaudy as they were last season and pale in comparison to many of the nation's quarterbacks. But he's thrown two touchdown passes in each of the past four games and rushed for six in the past three games. By the way, Florida has scored at least 38 points in each of the past four games and has scored at least 30 in every game but one this season. The Gators scored 26 in that one.

5. WR Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech: Does anyone still want to debate whether he's the best receiver in the nation? He ranks sixth in the nation in receptions and receiving yards per game and his 15 touchdown catches are tied for the most in the country. His game-winning touchdown catch against Texas is the highlight play of the season thus far.

VOTE: Who is the front-runner for the Heisman?

Olin Buchanan is a Heisman voter and a senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at olin@rivals.com.

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