The last time Ndamukong Suh hung out with Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, the Nebraska defensive tackle was tossing McCoy all over the field at Cowboys Stadium during the Big 12 title game.
While Tim Tebow cried in the final seconds of Florida's loss in the SEC title game, Alabama running back Mark Ingram rubbed it in by doing a mock Gator Chomp.
When the Heisman Trophy finalists -- who also include Stanford's Toby Gerhart -- meet again in New York for Saturday's announcement, it should be a more friendly, formal affair. Even though Ingram's and McCoy's teams will clash for the BCS championship in about a month.
Even in this hot mess of a Heisman race.
Suspense should crackle as the cameras zoom in on the finalists in the final, quiet moments before the winner is named.
"There's no slam dunk candidate," said Chris Huston, the creator of www. HeismanPundit.com.
If there is a favorite, it could be Ingram. The final HeismanPundit poll placed the sophomore on top, as does the latest projection on www.stiffarmtrophy.com -- though just barely.
Still, Ingram's 1,542 rushing yards would be the fewest for a Heisman-winning running back since Archie Griffin won his second consecutive Heisman in 1975 with 1,450 yards, Huston said.
Gerhart, who leads the nation in touchdowns and is second in rushing average, ranked second in both projections. While he's been most consistent, he plays for an 8-4 team that isn't a traditional national power.
Huston hasn't ruled out McCoy. Last year's gracious runner-up, McCoy is a senior for the unbeaten Longhorns, even if he and Texas squeaked by Nebraska after a rough Saturday night in Arlington. He's also the winningest quarterback in major college football. While many voters follow every twist and turn of the season, others look at the big picture, Huston said.
Suh made a surge with his dominating performance in the Big 12 title game.
Tebow, the 2007 winner who finished third last season even though he had the most first-place votes, is returning to New York a record third time. Huston, though, predicts there will never be another two-time winner.
Stanford, 6-1, 235, senior, RB
Gerhart turned down Stanford's offer of a billboard, but did star in a humorous video that played on his role as a two-sport star. In the video, Gerhart, a baseball standout, "tried" field hockey, synchronized swimming and tennis.
Gerhart leads the nation with 26 touchdowns and ranks second in rushing average at 144.7 ypg (1,736 yards in 12 games). He had 10 games of 100-plus yards and averaged 200.3 yards against three ranked opponents. He averaged 185.5 ypg and scored 13 TDs in his last four -- No. 7 Oregon, No. 11 USC, California and Notre Dame.
Gerhart excels academically at a tough school. But it may hurt that he plays for Stanford, which is 8-4 and didn't play during last weekend's league championship games.
Stanford's Heisman tradition:
Jim Plunkett (QB, 1970)
Alabama, 5-10, 212, sophomore, RB
Ingram's hometown of Flint, Mich., held a Mark Ingram Day. The Web site www.endthestreak.com lobbied for Ingram -- no Crimson Tide player has ever won or been runner-up for the Heisman.
Ingram ran for a school-record 1,542 yards in an unbeaten season. He had 113 yards and three TDs -- an SEC title game record -- against Florida, and added a 69-yard reception that set up a TD. Ingram finished with 15 TDs and rushed for 100-plus yards in eight of 13 games, including 246 against South Carolina.
Ingram bounced back from a 30-yard game against Auburn with his big game against Florida. His father, Mark Ingram, played 10 NFL seasons and a won a Super Bowl with the New York Giants, but is in prison for money laundering and bank fraud.
Alabama's Heisman tradition:
Texas, 6-2, 210, senior, QB
Letting wholesome, earnest McCoy be himself. The kid from Tuscola Jim Ned has grown up and led Texas to the BCS championship game after watching Vince Young do it when McCoy was a freshman.
McCoy finished second to Oklahoma's Sam Bradford last season and is the only Texas player to attend the ceremony twice. He's the winningest quarterback in major college football. He has passed for 3,512 yards and 27 TDs this season, while rushing for 348 yards. He passed for four TDs and ran for one against Texas A&M.
It took McCoy awhile to get going. His three-interception, no-TD performance and near-disastrous clock management in the Big 12 title game hurt, even though UT won.
Texas' Heisman tradition:
Earl Campbell (RB, 1977), Ricky Williams (RB, 1998)
Nebraska, 6-4, 300, senior, DT
Simply tossing offensive players around as if they weighed nothing and making voters take notice of a defensive lineman and his impact in every game he played.
Suh's 12 tackles, seven tackles for loss and 4 1/2 sacks in Nebraska's nail-biting loss to Texas in the Big 12 championship highlighted a dominant senior season. He leads the Cornhuskers with 82 tackles, including 50 solo stops, and has 12 sacks.
As impressive as Suh has been, his side of the ball is traditionally at a decided disadvantage. Michigan's Charles Woodson, a cornerback, is the only defensive player to have won the Heisman Trophy (1997).
Nebraska's Heisman tradition:
Johnny Rodgers (RB, 1972), Mike Rozier (RB, 1983), Eric Crouch (QB, 2001)
Florida, 6-3, 245, senior, QB
No campaign needed for college football's biggest star. With two national championships entering the season and his famous speech from the 2008 season already engraved in Gainesville, Tebow's legacy is secure.
Tebow passed for 2,413 yards and 18 TDs and rushed for 859 yards and 13 TDs. He led the Gators to a 12-0 regular season and the nation's No. 1 ranking before they fell to Alabama in the SEC championship game.
Tebow is the only player to earn three invitations to the Heisman ceremony, but he is a long shot to become a two-time winner. Ohio State's Archie Griffin (1974-75) is the only one. The loss to Alabama probably prevented Tebow from making a late push.
Florida's Heisman tradition:
Steve Spurrier (QB, 1966), Danny Wuerffel (QB, 1996), Tebow (2007)