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September 7, 2011

Heisman watch: RGIII rises to No. 1

the awards watch
A weekly look at the top three candidates for some key postseason awards. An asterisk denotes that the three finalists for the award already have been chosen:
Doak Walker
(best running back)
Biletnikoff
(most outstanding wide receiver)
Mackey
(top tight end)
Rimington
(most outstanding center)
Outland
(best interior lineman)
Nagurski
(most outstanding defensive player)
Butkus
(most outstanding linebacker)
Thorpe
(most outstanding defensive back)
Lou Groza
(top kicker)
Ray Guy
(top punter)

Robert Griffin III's first step in the Heisman race was like hitting a hole-in-one off the first tee.

There's still a long way to go, but he's clearly the early leader.

Griffin -- or RGIII as he's known in Waco and becoming known nationally -- put on a dazzling performance in Baylor's 50-48 upset of TCU on Friday.

He completed 77.8 percent of his passes for 359 yards and five touchdowns against TCU coach Gary Patterson's usually suffocating defense. TCU allowed just 10 touchdown passes last season.

Although he lost a fumble that enabled TCU to take a late lead, Griffin led the Bears on a clutch drive fo the winning field goal. He had completions for 11 and 17 yards, a run for 7 yards and a 15-yard reception on that drive.

"There's no question, if you were starting a team from scratch in this league [Big 12] and you put all of those [quarterbacks] names up on the board, I'm going to take Robert Griffin," ESPN analyst Bob Davie said.

While Griffin surged in the early Heisman race, a few contenders faltered, including Alabama tailback Trent Richardson and Oregon tailback LaMichael James.

The Heisman rankings are subject to major changes every week. Individual statistics, caliber of competition, highlight plays and team success are factors that are considered.

Griffin just aced them all off the first tee.

The top five candidates this week:

1. QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor: He set a school record with the fifth 300-yard passing performance of his career and had a career-high five touchdown passes in an upset of TCU.

2. QB Kellen Moore, Boise State: In the Broncos' 35-21 victory over Georgia, Moore threw for 261 yards and three touchdowns, and he led the Broncos to yet another win over a Big Six opponent.

3. QB Andrew Luck, Stanford: He did nothing to compromise his preseason standing as the top contender in a 57-3 rout of San Jose State. Luck passed for 171 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another touchdown in three quarters of play.

4. WR Robert Woods, USC: He set a school single-game record with 17 receptions for 177 yards and scored all three Trojans touchdowns (one on a 43-yard catch) in a 19-17 victory over Minnesota. He also had a 35-yard kickoff return.

5. QB Landry Jones, Oklahoma: Jones passed for 375 yards and a touchdown in a 47-14 romp over Tulsa.

Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at olin@rivals.com.

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