Sure, it took an injury to Sam Bradford, an iffy half by Colt McCoy and a bit of Tim Tebow tedium, but suddenly Cal running back Jahvid Best is on everyone's Heisman trophy short list. "I am?" Best said Wednesday evening. "I didn't know that." Check the eye-roll. The lightning-fast running back is so humble and grounded, it's possible to believe he isn't tracking his ascendance in Heisman polls. "Jahvid puts the team above self," said Cal coach Jeff Tedford.
His team is doing pretty well, too. The Bears are ranked eighth and travel to Minnesota on Saturday in a nationally televised game. The Big Ten matchup is a chance for the Bears -- usually relegated to late-night Pac-10 time slots -- to show the rest of the country who they are.
And an opportunity for Best to show voters he's not just the other guy in the Heisman race. Best has run for 281 yards in his first two games. Already considered the best non-quarterback in Heisman contention, his long-shot odds improved when reigning Heisman winner Bradford went down with a shoulder sprain in Oklahoma's opener. The competition in front of Best is still daunting: Florida's Tebow and Texas' McCoy, who quarterback the top two teams in the country. In addition to the power quarterback duo, there's also a lot of history to overcome. A Cal player has never won the Heisman. The last non-USC player from the Pac-10 to win the award was Stanford's Jim Plunkett in 1970. And Best's best work comes when many Heisman voters are in their jammies.