While the Big 12 Championship game loss knocked the Missouri Tigers out of the national title hunt and the BCS altogether, it didn’t seem to knock quarterback Chase Daniel out of consideration for college football’s top honor. On Wednesday, the New York Downtown Athletic Club announced that Daniel is one of four finalists for the 2007 Heisman Trophy.
Daniel, in his second full season as a starter, has thrown for 4,170 yards and 33 touchdowns in 2007 and led Missouri to its best season and first No. 1 ranking in 47 years.
“I think he has had a spectacular season with the numbers and he, like (Colt) Brennan, has benefited from this system,” said Tom Luicci, a Heisman voter who writes for the Newark Star-Ledger.
Daniel will be joined by three other players who attracted plenty of attention this season. Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan and Arkansas running back Darren McFadden were the other finalists who will make the trip to New York this Saturday for the award ceremony.
Tebow has thrown for 3,132 yards and 29 touchdowns and rushed for 838 yards and a Southeastern Conference record 22 touchdowns. His numbers have garnered him national attention and much of the Heisman buzz over the past month. The biggest thing Tebow has going against him is he would be the first sophomore to ever win the award. “That wasn’t a factor for me,” Luicci said. “I think he has been the frontrunner since Dixon went down.”
Brennan leads an undefeated Hawaii team that just earned its first-ever BCS bowl bid. The senior has thrown for 4,174 yards and 38 touchdowns. His 131 career touchdown passes are the most in NCAA history.
McFadden came into the season coming off of a runner-up finish in last season’s voting. But he struggled against Florida International and South Carolina. McFadden put himself right back into the race with over 200 yards rushing and three touchdowns (one passing) in a triple overtime upset of then-No. 1-ranked LSU on Nov. 23.
McFadden’s Razorbacks will take on the Tigers in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 1.
“I think it’s great, a match-up matching those two teams up and it’s going to make for a great game for the two,” Luicci said.
Daniel will be in Orlando, Fla. Wednesday night as a finalist for the Davey O’Brien quarterback award and the Walter Camp Player of the Year prize. Daniel got the invite despite his poor showing in a 38-17 loss to Oklahoma last Saturday.
“For McFadden and Tebow, since they didn’t have those title games, they were kind of set for me,” John Rohde, a columnist for The Oklahoman and a Heisman voter said. “So that left some room in my ballot for Chase coming into that game.
Following good performances against Texas A&M, Kansas State and Kansas, the championship game was not helpful for Daniel’s Heisman chances. Tebow and McFadden’s teams did not qualify for conference championship games, while Brennan led his team to a come-from-behind victory over the Washington Huskies in a nonconference game a few hours after Daniel and the Tigers went down in defeat.
The poor performance on Saturday opened up the door for McFadden and Tebow to increase the gap on Daniel, but it didn’t stop him from getting the invite.
“I think he is definitely deserving as one of the most deserving guys in terms of a Heisman invite,” Luicci said.