Ty Detmer and Rocket Ismail have made their closing arguments in the Heisman Trophy case. Now they must await the verdict.
In their final games prior to Saturday's announcement, Brigham Young's prolific passer and Notre Dame's triple-threat star displayed the talents that have made them the front-runners for college football's most prestigious award.Detmer threw for 560 yards and five touchdowns in BYU's 45-10 rout of Utah State. That increased his passing yardage to 4,869, breaking the single-season record of 4,699 set by 1989 Heisman winner Andre Ware of Houston. Despite five interceptions, Detmer also extended to 23 his NCAA mark for consecutive 300-yard passing games.
Ismail, apparently recovered from a severe thigh bruise, gained 189 all-purpose yards and made several big plays in the fourth quarter of Notre Dame's 10-6 win over Southern Cal. Ismail is averaging 14 yards every time he touches the ball and has scored six touchdowns this season as a runner, receiver and kick returner.
On the year, Ismail - touted more for his effectiveness than statistics - has 537 yards rushing on 67 carries, and has caught 32 passes for 699 yards.
Three other Heisman contenders - Colorado running back Eric Bieniemy, Houston quarterback David Klingler and Virginia quarterback Shawn Moore - did not play Saturday. But even if they had, they wouldn't have gained much ground on Detmer or Ismail.
The two-man duel could result in one of the closest Heisman votes ever, especially since both players have a major liability. Detmer has thrown 24 interceptions and 38 touchdown passes, the worst interception-TD ratio of any top quarterback.
"I have a tendency to go into coverage every now and then, trying to making something happen," he said after the Utah State game. "It's just the way I play. I'm going to make some mistakes."
Ismail's major drawback is his restricted role in the Irish offense. Because he handles the ball only 11 times per game, some people consider him a part-time player who shouldn't qualify for the award.
The Heisman will be awarded this Saturday while BYU plays its final regular season game in Hawaii.