Updated: December 4, 2007, 7:05 AM ET
Editor's note: Each week, ESPN.com asks one of its Heisman Watch voters to explain his picks. Here are Ivan Maisel's Dec. 4 selections.1. Dennis Dixon, Oregon
This isn't complicated: Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon is the best player I saw this season. The sublime Statue of Liberty fake at Michigan, when he trotted into the end zone, stood as the cherry on top of the Ducks' astounding upset. The command and maturity he displayed when Oregon defeated USC in October illustrated how he could maintain his poise and leadership even when he didn't break off one big play after another. The fourth-down, 43-yard touchdown run on the Ducks' initial possession at Arizona, the last touchdown Dixon scored this season, proved how good he is, if only because he ran it with a torn ACL. Two possessions later, his knee buckled, and Dixon's season ended. From that point on, Oregon was outscored, 81-47, and lost three in a row. Oregon fell from the BCS Championship Game to the Sun Bowl. If that doesn't tell you how good Dixon is, nothing else will. 2. Darren McFadden, Arkansas
Arkansas tailback Darren McFadden rode the Wild Hog offense into his second straight season as an All-American, and he will make his second straight trip to the Heisman Trophy presentation as a finalist. No one combines speed and sheer athletic ability the way McFadden does. LSU never figured out how to stop the Razorbacks once the junior began playing quarterback. He rushed for 206 yards and three touchdowns and completed 3-of-6 passes for 34 yards and a touchdown. Tim Tebow may be a quarterback imitating a running back. I think it's rarer for a running back to imitate a quarterback. McFadden finished with more rushing yards (1,725) than he had in 2006 (1,647) and more rushing touchdowns (15 to 14). It's wonderful to see a player so talented fulfill his potential. 3. Pat White, West Virginia
Pat White gets the last place on my ballot for some of the same reasons Dixon got the first one. With him, West Virginia would be playing in the national championship game. In each of their two losses, he suffered an injury in the first half that knocked him out for most (Pittsburgh) or all (South Florida) of the second half. White represents one of the most appealing sides of college football. LSU wanted to sign him as a wide receiver. But White wanted to play quarterback. He found an offense at West Virginia that is perfect for his talents. 4. Tim Tebow, Florida
I struggled greatly with third place on my ballot. I respect what Tim Tebow accomplished this season. And like Dixon and White, Tebow carried his team to success. In the end, I chose Dixon and White because of the heights to which they took their teams. There is more to a quarterback than can be measured by statistics. 5. Colt Brennan, Hawaii
Hawaii senior Colt Brennan did what is never easy to do. He came into the season with high expectations and then he exceeded them. Brennan led the Warriors to a 12-0 season and a berth in the Sugar Bowl, their first Jan. 1 bowl bid, much less a BCS berth. Brennan, like Tebow, is a bit of a "system quarterback." Their statistics are so outlandish that they are viewed as freakish. It's easier to appreciate Brenan for his ability to succeed in the spotlight.
ESPN Experts Poll
Each week, ESPN.com's panel of experts casts its votes for the top Heisman candidates. The panel consists of analysts, former players, former coaches and ESPN.com's college football staff. Florida's Tim Tebow retained the top spot in our Heisman Watch, despite not playing last week. Chase Daniel's performance in the loss to Oklahoma (zero passing touchdowns, one interception) caused him to drop from second place to sixth, and opened up the No. 2 spot for another player who was off -- Arkansas' Darren McFadden. Colt Brennan put on a clinic against Washington; his five-touchdown performance preserved Hawaii's perfect season. Dennis Dixon wasn't the only Heisman hopeful to see his chances diminished because of injury; Pat White was held out of nearly the entire second half in the loss to Pitt. But their teams' demise in the wake of their injuries might have been the clearest evidence of the impact these players had on their teams -- which is why Dixon and White round out our final top five. The Heisman Trophy winner will be announced on Saturday (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET).
|Pat White||QB||West Virginia||Jr.||0||2||1||3||1||18|
|Matt Ryan||QB||Boston College||Sr.||0||0||1||0||1||4|
|Michael Crabtree||WR||Texas Tech||Fr.||0||0||0||0||1||1|
Heisman Trophy Winners
|2006||Troy Smith||Ohio State|
|2000||Chris Weinke||Florida State|
For the complete list of Heisman winners, click here.