Posted by Bryan Fischer
STANFORD, Calif. -- Heisman moments tend not to just happen, they're built up. Sure they'll catch you off guard from time-to-time but they rarely just come out of nowhere to the front of our collective concious.
Every bit of the listed 6-foot-4, 237-pounds, Andrew Luck was deemed better than any of his peers or predeessors by pundits, NFL coaches, general managers and scouts. For every two minute drive, red zone touchdown or play action fake, it was a work art. Saturday's game against Oregon was supposed to be his. Another trip to New York was certain but, in Stanford's biggest game in decades, this was supposed to be his moment.
"Not good enough to win," Luck said, in an aww-shucks manner, of his performance in a 53-30 loss. "Worst game of the year I guess."
Statistically, you could make the argument it wasn't. Realistically? It's hard to think of anybody giving Luck as much trouble as the Ducks' defense did. Pressured all night, he finished 27-for-41 for 271 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. He threw a pick six. He lost a fumble. He was sacked. He was un-Luck like but wasn't unlucky.
"They do present some exotic formations, such as four guys to one side and what not," Oregon coach Chip Kelly said. "We talked about it as a staff how to handle it, making plays."
Luck didn't have to be great on his home field to wrap up college football's most prestigious trophy but he did have to be good. Playing from behind entire night, it was clear that the future top draft pick lacked any kind of wide receiver to stretch the field and even his normally reliable tight ends dropped several passes to slow momentum as the nation's longest winning streak fell just as hard as the Cardinal's outside chance at playing for the national title.
"I knew it wasn't going to be a cake walk," Luck said. "I had no grand delusion of it for our team. We still have football left and, for that, I'm grateful."
Credit Luck for having a space between the two words, college quarterback, that describe him every Saturday though. Despite losing to the only team to beat him the past two years, he was as even-keeled as ever afterward, answering questions about a difficult loss like they were the easy questions one of his midterms.
"It's disappointing obviously. You always want to have a good game," he said. "A disappointment, yes, but life goes on. We have two more big ball games coming up."
There was no Heisman moment on the slippery turf for the signal-caller but that doesn't mean he has no chance of hoisting college football's most prestigious award up in New York. The clear front-runner when the day began, he's likely to keep his spot at or near the top of most lists but there's no question that every turnover against Oregon made others' chances that much better.
"This game is not fatal to Luck's Heisman hopes," said Chris Huston, who runs HeismanPundit.com. "Voters will not blame him for this loss. The Heisman race is an individual award and, while Luck will lose some ground, he remains the favorite."
In some minds the only one to put on a performance worthy of the award was LaMichael James, who rushed for 146 yards and three touchdowns as he continues to return to form following an elbow injury. Enough to get back in the discussion, maybe, but if you're looking for a moment in the game it was undoubtedly on one of James' long runs.
"His missing two games this year killed his Heisman chances," Huston added. "He just won't have the numbers to come close to winning."For James, the 23 point win might be enough for another trip to the Heisman ceremony. For Luck, the 23 point loss might be enough to hold him back from bringing the trophy home.