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Heisman watch

Finally, it’s a race! Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning, Washington State quarterback Ryan Leaf and Michigan big-mouth Charles Woodson all had huge games Saturday to solidify their respective Heisman candidacies.

Manning threw for 399 yards and four TDs and ran for another to lead the Volunteers past Southern Mississippi 44-20.

Leaf passed for 305 yards and four TDs and ran for another score in the first half as the Cougars routed Southwestern Louisiana 77-7.

Woodson, who this week publicly declared his candidacy, backed up his words in Michigan’s 34-8 victory over Penn State. Woodson, generally acknowledged as one of the two or three best cover men in college, caught a 37-yard touchdown pass in the victory. Woodson is averaging 21.6 yards per catch as a spot receiver and has five interceptions while playing the marquee role on the nation’s No. 1 defense.

Lombardi watch

The finalists for this year’s Lombardi Award, given by the Rotary Club of Houston to college football’s outstanding lineman, are Greg Ellis of North Carolina, Andy Katzenmoyer of Ohio State, Andre Wadsworth of Florida State and Grant Wistrom of Nebraska. Katzenmoyer is the lone underclassman.

Stars and stats

Tim Rattay, Louisiana Tech, was 29 of 44 for 332 yards and three TDs, setting a school record for passing yards in a season to lead the Bulldogs to a 32-29 victory over Alabama-Birmingham.

John Dutton, Nevada, threw for a school-record 557 yards and five touchdowns as the Wolf Pack beat Boise State 56-42.

Keaton Cromartie, Tulane, had seven sacks and deflected a field-goal attempt as the Green Wave defeated Memphis 26-14.

Dan Gonzalez, East Carolina, was 26 of 33 for 337 yards and four TDs in a 28-27 win over Houston.

Travis Prentice, Miami, Ohio, rushed for 227 yards and two TDs in a 45-21 victory over Ohio University.

Tinker Keck, Cincinnati, returned two punts for touchdowns in a 28-9 win over Louisville. Keck has returned four punts for TDs this season, setting a school record and matching the NCAA record shared by three others. The two punt returns in one game also matched the NCAA record.

Fred Weary, Florida, broke the school record with his 15th career interception, sixth this season, in a 20-7 victory over Vanderbilt.

Joe Hamilton, Georgia Tech, was 21 for 26 for 337 yards and Derrick Steagall caught seven passes for a school-record 223 yards, in a 35-31 loss to Virginia.

Randy Moss, Marshall, had seven catches for 56 yards in a 28-0 win over Bowling Green. He has a 25-game TD scoring streak and his 22 TD receptions this season is one shy of the major-college record set by Houston’s Manny Hazzard in 1989.

Marshall law

Marshall, with its 28-0 win over Bowling Green, became the first team in NCAA history to win eight games in its first season of I-A play after moving from I-AA. Nevada was 7-5 in 1992.

And the beat goes on

Pity the poor state of Illinois. The University of Illinois lost its 15th consecutive game, falling to Northwestern 34-21. The good news for the Fightless Illini is that they are not the worst team in the state. Illinois may never catch Northern Illinois, which lost for the 17th consecutive time in a 38-10 setback against Eastern Michigan.

At 0-10, Rutgers is on the verge of its first winless season since a seven-game season in 1901.

Prairie View lost its 76th straight game, remaining winless this decade.

BU says goodbye at home

Boston University snapped a 12-game losing streak with a 33-8 win over Massachusetts in the final home game for the football program. Because of high costs and minimal interest, the university voted to eliminate football after 91 years.

Davison has his say

“Franco Harris? Yeah, I’ve seen that play on ESPN a few times.” - Nebraska’s Matt Davison, who made a diving catch on a ball that was tipped and kicked in the end zone to send the game into overtime, where the Cornhuskers defeated Missouri 45-38. The play was reminiscent of the Immaculate Reception in the 1972 NFL playoffs.

Looking ahead to next Saturday

Washington at UCLA is one of the biggest games in Washington State University history. If Washington wins, the Cougars have very little chance of going to the Rose Bowl. Also, Georgia vs. Auburn should be a good one and LSU coach Gerry DiNardo faces his alma mater when Notre Dame plays the Tigers at Baton Rouge.

, DataTimes