Despite controversy, Auburn quarterback Newton is expected to win big at Heisman

By BRIAN MURPHY

McClatchy Newspapers

Published Thursday, Dec. 09, 2010

BOISE, Idaho — Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore is headed to New York City as the Broncos’ first-ever Heisman Trophy finalist.

He might get to see a coronation.

Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, who edged out Moore for the national lead in passing efficiency and carried the Tigers to an undefeated regular season despite season-long questions about his knowledge of a pay-for-play scheme, could be headed to the biggest win in the trophy’s 75-year history.

“You cant really question what he’s done on the field as far as production. It’s just amazing, really, It’s spectacular how he can dominate a game ire rushing phase and the passing phase,” Moore said

The 6-foot-6, 250-pound Newton has accounted for 49 touchdowns (20 rushing, 28 passing, one receiving) in 13 games. He ranks No. 1 in the country in pass efficiency, No. 10 in total offense and No. 15 in rushing for No. 1 Auburn, which will play for the national title on Jan.10.

The voters have taken notice.

And, for the most part, blocked out questions about his recruitment. The NCAA ruled Newton eligible to play last week, though it concluded that his father tried to secure money from Mississippi State for his son’s commitment.

StiffArmTrophy.com, which tracks the Heisman voters’ ballots, has Newton with 73 first- place votes. Among the other finalists invited to Saturday’s presentation, Stanford quarterback Luck has three first-place votes, while Oregon running back LaMichael James and Moore have one each.

The site had tracked down 82 ballots of the roughly 900 as of Monday afternoon. Voters cast a ballot with first, second and third place.

Moore’s first-place vote is from Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel.

The website is projecting a 1,687-point victory for Newton, which would be the second-largest margin of victory. USC running back O.J .Simpson won the 1968 award by a record 1,750 points over Leroy Keyes. Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith won the 2006 trophy by 1,662 points over Arkansas running back Darren McFadden.

Bianchi is one of six voters who have made public that they did not vote for Newton at all, citing the mission statement of the Heisman Trust.

“The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity,” it reads.

Former USC running back Reggie Bush became the first player to return his 2005 Heisman Trophy after the NCAA ruled Bush was ineligible for receiving improper benefits during his career.

But Boise State coach Chris Petersen said all voters need to do is look at Moore’s on-field performance to vote for the lightly recruited left-handed junior.

“If everybody got our game films and watched him with a fine-tooth comb, I think they’d be even more amazed,” Petersen said. “If (the voters) study, it should be a lot closer than everybody outside thinks it should be.”

Moore is battling many of the same perceptions that the Boise State program has faced in recent years, especially a lack of competition from playing in the WAC. No player from a non-AQ conference has won the Heisman since BYU quarterback Ty Detmer captured the 1990 trophy.

Moore threw for 3,506 yards and 33 touchdowns in leadmg the Broncos to an 11-1 regular season, He is No. 2 in passing efficiency in the NCAA.

“I haven’t been around a player that is more deserving than him,” said Petersen, who will accompany Moore to New York City this weekend.

But it appears he will be competing for second place, along with two other stars from the West.

James, the nation’s leading rusher at 152.9 yards per game, is the main cog in Oregon’s high-powered offense. The No. 2 Ducks will play in the BCS National Championship Game against Newton and Auburn.

Luck, a sophomore quarterback, broke John Elway’s single-season touchdown record with 28 and guided Stanford to an 11-1 season and a spot in the Orange Bowl.

“That guy deserves all the credit in the world for what he’s done to Stanford and what he’s meant to them and where he’s taken them in his two years,” said Moore, who met Luck over the summer at the Manning Passing Academy. “He’s the heart and soul of that team and he really carries Stanford.”