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September 23, 2008

Olin Buchanan's Week 4 Heisman Ballot

VOTE: Who is the front-runner for the Heisman?

A quarterback obviously is having a good season when he establishes a career-high in passing yards and sets a conference record with 20 consecutive completions, yet has to look for a silver lining from a 42-21 victory.

So it is for Missouri's Chase Daniel, who threw for 439 yards in a 42-21 victory over Buffalo that was tarnished by Tigers turnovers.

"You look at everything we have done to this game, and there's been no adversity at all," Daniel said. "We're not going to go through this season with no adversity. We were able to face it today, come over and come through it."

Daniel has come through all season. He ranks among the nation's top 10 in every major passing category. Yet he remains second on this list of Heisman leaders because Missouri's overall caliber of competition is questionable. Thus far, Daniel has faced two teams (Buffalo and Nevada) that rank among the nation's bottom eight in pass defense as well as Southeast Missouri State, which is a Football Championship Subdivision team.

Daniel soon will have a chance to make a move in the rankings. After a bye this weekend, the Tigers start Big 12 play.

1. USC QB Mark Sanchez: He has played two "Big Six" opponents Virginia and Ohio State and had strong performances in both. Through two games, he has thrown for 510 yards and seven touchdowns for the top-ranked Trojans. Sanchez threw four touchdown passes against Ohio State, which has allowed just one other touchdown pass this season.

2. Missouri QB Chase Daniel: He hasn't had anything even remotely resembling a mediocre performance. Daniel had 431 passing yards and two touchdowns in this past weekend's victory over Buffalo, which was his second consecutive 400-yard game.

3. Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford: Bradford and his Sooners didn't play last weekend. He had passed for 699 yards and 10 touchdowns in the previous two weeks.

4. BYU QB Max Hall: He has completed more than 77 percent of his passing attempts for 1,285 yards and 15 touchdowns and only two interceptions.

5. LSU RB Charles Scott: Several running backs were considered here, but Scott's 134-yard performance against Auburn, which ranks 19th in the nation in run defense, cannot be ignored. Scott is averaging 131.3 yards per game despite only 44 carries. He has 99 fewer carries than Michigan State's Javon Ringer. He has 61 fewer yards than Georgia's Knowshon Moreno despite getting 25 fewer carries.

VOTE: Who is the frontrunner for the Heisman?

Olin Buchanan is a Heisman voter and a senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at olin@rivals.com.

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