The announcement of the Heisman Trophy winner in late November is rarely a suspenseful moment. Most years someone like Barry Sanders, Bo Jackson or Herschel Walker has the award all wrapped up by Halloween.

But this year could be different. The Heisman race is still wide-open and could continue to be so right up until Thanksgiving.Last weekend, Gannett News Service polled 125 Heisman voters on how they'd vote right now. The results show basically a four-man race, with three others still within shouting distance.

Notre Dame quarterback Tony Rice led the way with 146 points (based on 3-2-1 voting, 3 for first, etc.), with Houston quarterback Andre Ware close behind with 135. Indiana running back Anthony Thompson was next with 118 points, followed closely by Air Force quarterback Dee Dowis with 111.

The others who got significant support were preseason favorite Major Harris of West Virginia, Florida's Emmitt Smith and Notre Dame's Raghib Ismail.

The view from here is that Dowis' support may have peaked and unless he has big games against Army and BYU, he has little chance. Thompson, as long as he leads the nation in rushing, will be a strong candidate, as will Rice if the Irish stay atop the polls. Ware, despite his amazing stats, will be hurt by people who refuse to vote for a player whose team is on probation.


FIRST CLASS: Speaking of the Heisman, the trophy has taken its first trip in 54 years.

For the first time since it was created in 1935, the Heisman Trophy left New York Tuesday and was flown to Tampa, Fla. It will be displayed at a charity golf tournament sponsored by the Heisman Foundation before being returned to the Big Apple next week. For the past 54 years, the Heisman has rested on a pedestal in the lobby of New York's Downtown Athletic Club.

The trip to Tampa was made in style. The trophy was taken to LaGuardia Airport in a police-escorted limousine, then flown to Florida in a first-class seat. "With a seat belt and everything," Denis Leahy of the Downtown Athletic Club said.


LOCAL HOPES: With the Heisman race being so wide open this year, it would have been a good year for someone like Steve Young or Jim McMahon to have grabbed the award. But their timing was bad (Marcus Allen and Mike Rozier had the two best rushing years in history).

It's true that local heroes Ty Detmer of BYU and Scott Mitchell of Utah have more passing yards than anyone in the country right now (Mitchell has 2,635, Detmer 2,593), but they'll get little consideration. Mitchell's problem is that he plays for a 3-5 team and hasn't put up the numbers he posted as a sophomore. Detmer has the stats (pass efficiency of 167, 4th best ever in Division I-A) for a run at the Heisman, but is hurt by the fact that he's a sophomore. Not only has a sophomore never won it, but no one had heard much of Detmer before this year.

So we'll have to wait until 1990 for a local player to make a run at the Heisman. And just watch, some running back from USC or Nebraska will end up having a record season.


TRIVIA QUIZ: Of the eight players who have won the Heisman as juniors, how many have gone on to win again the following year? *****

POPULAR SCORE: There's one score that's being recycled in the Pac-10 this year.

On Sept. 23, Stanford came from behind to defeat Oregon 18-17. A week later, USC scored and made a two-point conversion late in the game for an 18-17 win over Washington State. Then last week Oregon State scored and went for two in an 18-17 win over UCLA. If the Beavers had gone for two and made it against Arizona State a week earlier, they would have won 18-17.


O.J.'S SWITCH: University of Utah fans may remember the stories of how the school came very close to getting O.J. Simpson back in 1967. But former Arizona State Coach Frank Kush has another twist to the recruiting story.

Kush and assistant Jack Stovall had a commitment from Simpson to attend Arizona State and were heading to Tempe with the recruit when Simpson went to the bathroom at the Oakland International Airport. While coming out, Simpson ran into Utah Coach Mike Giddings, who had been heavily recruiting Simpson.

Unable to persuade Simpson to play for the Utes, Giddings made a pitch on behalf of Southern Cal, where he had been an assistant under John McKay.

"(Giddings) talked O.J. into waiting another day," Kush told Associated Press. "And he changed his mind. If we hadn't let him go to the john, we'd have had him on an airplane and Mike wouldn't have seen him. Every time I see O.J., we kid about it."


TRIVA ANSWER: Only one, Ohio State's Archie Griffin, who won in 1974 and 1975.



BYU 20, Hawaii 20 - Five years ago the Cougars beat the 'Bows by 5. Two years ago they won by 2. Last year they won by 1. Do we spot a trend here?

Utah 34, Colorado State 25 - The Utes are trying to copy last year's format for a winning season, by starting 2-5 and winning the rest.

Montana State 28, Weber State 19 - Sorry 'Cats, but you still have possible wins against Southwest State and Idaho State on the horizon.