Heisman Preview: Too close to call

Adrian Peterson and Jason White hope to make history Saturday on Saturday night by bringing home Oklahoma's fifth Heisman Trophy. White could become only the second player in history to win the award twice. Ohio State quarterback Archie Griffin did it in 1974 and 1975.(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

On Sept. 7, 2002, Jason White laid near the 40-yard line of Owen Field in pain after suffering his second season-ending ACL knee injury in two years.

Now, fast forward to December 11, 2004. Three years, three months and three days after that dreadful date, White is looking to join Archie Griffin as only the second player in the history of college football to win the sport's most prestigious award — The Heisman Trophy — twice.

White overcame many obstacles to win his first Heisman Trophy, but Saturday night at the Hilton New York he will have to overcome four more, including teammate Adrian Peterson, if he is to follow in Griffin's footsteps.

The five finalists for this year's Heisman Trophy are White, Peterson, USC quarterback Matt Leinart, USC running back Reggie Bush and Utah quarterback Alex Smith.

Below is OUInsider.com's breakdown of where the candidates stand going into Saturday night's ceremony, which will be broadcast on ESPN beginning at 7 p.m. CST.

The Favorites:
Jason White (Oklahoma) and Matt Leinart (USC). Both are deserving, but unfortunately only one will win.

HeismanProjection.com, a website that keeps track of Heisman voters who have made their votes public, has Leinart as the award's leader. The Scripps Howard News Service Poll, which has correctly predicted 15 of the last 17 Heisman winners, has predicted that White will win the coveted trophy.

The Stats: Leinart has completed 251 of his 377 pass attempts for 2,990 yards and 28 touchdowns. He also has three rushing touchdowns and six interceptions. White has completed 231 of his 354 pass attempts for 2,961 yards with 33 touchdowns and six interceptions.

The Wild Cards:
Reggie Bush (USC) and Adrian Peterson (Oklahoma). These two didn't exactly come out of nowhere, but neither was expected to be here in August.

According to HeismanProjection.com, Peterson is distancing himself from Bush and has surpassed White. Yet Peterson remains a wild card simply because several voters have made it known they will not vote for a true freshman.

The Stats: Peterson has rushed for 1,843 yards and 15 touchdowns on 314 carries. Bush has rushed for 833 yards and six touchdowns on 137 carries and has 478 receiving yards and seven touchdowns on 41 receptions. He also two punt returns for touchdowns and one passing touchdown.

The Longshot: Alex Smith (Utah). Smith is a nice story on a Cinderella team, but does not have a realistic shot at winning the Heisman.

Statistically, Smith's numbers are solid, but he's not exactly facing the quality of competition on defense that White, Leinart, Peterson and Bush encounter week-to-week.

For a WAC quarterback to win the Heisman, they would have to turn in a Ty Detmer-like season. When Detmer won the award in 1990, he threw for 5,188 yards and 41 touchdowns. Smith isn't anywhere close to those numbers.

The Stats: Smith has completed 185 of his 280 passes for 28 touchdowns and only tossed four interceptions. He has rushed for 562 yards and 10 touchdowns on 120 carries.

The Projection:
All indications point to a three-man race between White, Leinart and Peterson. Therefore, Leinart seems to be the favorite for the Heisman, because White and Peterson are projected to split more votes than Leinart and Bush.

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories