COLUMBIA — Chase Daniel for Heisman is beyond the theoretical stage after his latest big day for No. 6 Missouri.
“We weren’t going to be campaigning until we did something on the field,” school spokesman Chad Moller said Sunday. “I think it’s time.
“We aren’t going to be buying banners on Times Square, but it’s going to be about keeping people informed and taking that next step in linking his name to the Heisman.”
Daniel received a letter from the Heisman Trust last week notifying him he was on a short list of potential invitees to New York City for the awards presentation next month. He’s the point-man for Missouri’s first nine-win season since 1969.
Coach Gary Pinkel said he did a lot of interviews last week discussing Daniel’s qualifications, and Daniel backed up that talk on Saturday by passing for 352 yards and three touchdowns in a 40-26 victory over Texas A&M in Missouri’s home finale.
“I don’t know if he’s the best quarterback in the country, but somebody’s got to show me who’s better than him,” Pinkel said. “I’m sure there are some real good ones out there and I’ve seen some good ones.
“But when it’s time to play and time to go for a drive, well, you know who’s leading this team.”
Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon perhaps is the front-runner, with Florida sophomore quarterback Tim Tebow and Arkansas running back Darren McFadden among the worthy contenders. McFadden, Heisman runner-up last year, is having another nice season. He rushed for 321 yards last week, but Arkansas is 6-4 after losing to Tennessee on Saturday.
Dixon has thrown 20 touchdown passes with only three interceptions, and has rushed for 549 yards and eight touchdowns. Tebow accounted for seven touchdowns, five rushing, and 424 total yards in a 51-31 victory at South Carolina on Saturday.
Daniel pays attention to the publicity and the competition, but not too much. Missouri (9-1) has at least three games to go, starting with next week’s game at Kansas State, where the Tigers haven’t won since 1989.
After that, there’s the neutral-site matchup for the Big 12 North title against No. 4 and unbeaten Kansas on Nov. 24 in Kansas City. A win there would put them in the conference title game for the first time.
So, the Heisman is just a nice sidelight.
“That’s so far away,” Daniel said. “It’s so far away and there’s so many great college athletes out there that are deserving.
“We’ve got our hands full next week as well.”
Daniel has 26 touchdown passes and six interceptions while ranking in the top five in the NCAA in at least five major statistical categories: total offense (355 yards), completions (28 per game), completion percentage (69 percent), passing yards (3,306) and passing yards per game (330.6).
Daniel produced a pair of scoring drives in the fourth quarter after Texas A&M twice cut the deficit to five points. He was 27-for-35, with most of the incompletions coming when he threw the ball away rather than force it into coverage.
Missouri and Hawaii are the only schools to score 30 points in every game this season, and dating to 2006, the Tigers have topped 30 points in 12 straight games.
“He plays consistently at a high level, and I think that’s an understatement,” Pinkel said. “I would suggest if we continue to win and he continues to play at that level, I’d like to think he would be considered for that prize.”