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COLORADO’S SALAAM EXPECTED TO TAKE HOME THE HEISMAN

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Future Supreme Court justice Byron "Whizzer" White was runner-up for the 1937 Heisman Trophy, still the highest finish by a Colorado player.

That should change Saturday night, when Buffaloes tailback Rashaan Salaam is expected to win college football's most prestigious award.Salaam, the nation's leading rusher with 2,055 yards, is favored over Penn State teammates Ki-Jana Carter and Kerry Collins and Alcorn State quarterback Steve McNair.

"He gained 2,000 yards, and that's a magic number," said Lee Corso of ESPN, which will televise the Heisman ceremony from the Downtown Athletic Club.

Rushing for 2,000 yards is significant because the other three Division I-A players who did it won the Heisman - Marcus Allen in 1981, Mike Rozier in 1983 and Barry Sanders in 1988. Salaam also is the first player since Sanders to lead the nation in rushing, scoring and all-purpose yards.

"I'd be surprised if he doesn't win," said Colorado coach Bill McCartney.

A straw poll by the Rocky Mountain News indicates McCartney is right. In a survey of 190 of the 920 eligible Heisman voters, Salaam was the runaway winner with 120 first-place votes and 764 points. Carter was second with 16 first-place votes and 288 points. McNair was third and Collins was fourth.

Weak competition was the big knock against McNair, who posted astronomical numbers in Division I-AA. Although he set NCAA total yardage records for a season (5,799) and career (15,887), skeptics said he did it against inferior opposition.