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Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Contra Costa Times: Smith, Slaton Lead Heisman Race
It took a crazy cart ride around Memorial Stadium to get Cal tailback Marshawn Lynch some national publicity. Will that publicity be too little, too late in the Heisman Trophy chase? Probably so. Lynch has an uphill climb for a couple reasons. One, he hasn't been completely healthy, sitting out at times due to sprained ankles. Two, seven of Cal's eight games have been blowouts (six wins, one ugly loss to Tennessee) so Lynch hasn't been needed in the fourth quarters of those games. Lynch leads the Pac-10 in rushing with 113.4 yards per game, but he ranks only 12th nationally.
Cal coach Jeff Tedford said he can't be concerned about national awards. "He has been dinged up," Tedford said of Lynch. "To put him in there to gain 200 or 300 yards (in a game that has been basically decided) is not worth it. I'm not going to put him at risk if he isn't healthy." So does Tedford believe that Lynch will be considered for the Heisman? "It's hard for me to believe that there are football players around the country much better than him." About the only saving grace for Lynch is that it remains a wide-open Heisman Trophy race. Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith and West Virginia tailback Steve Slaton are front-runners on the strength of their own ability and their teams' success. But a loss could hurt either player's chance of snagging the Heisman.