I DO NOT like talking about the Heisman Trophy until November. Just sort of seems pointless to speculate about the best college football player in the country before then, you know?

Now that Halloween has passed, though, it's free game. And with that in mind, I have my guy for the stiff-arm statue.

Here's a hint: He's completed 67.3 percent of his passes for 2,167 yards, 23 touchdowns and three interceptions while leading his team to an undefeated record.

Here's another hint: He plays in Los Angeles and is not named Matt Leinart.

Give up? It's UCLA quarterback Drew Olson.

That's right, the Piedmont High graduate, who nearly lost his starting job before this season after undergoing major knee surgery and now has the 8-0 Bruins, remarkably, in the race for the national championship, should be the front-runner for the Heisman.

Sure, Olson hasn't thrown for as many yards as Leinart (2,530) or even Notre Dame's Brady Quinn (2,352), but let's look beyond the numbers for a second.

Olson doesn't have the luxury of handing off the ball to LenDale White and Reggie Bush, or throwing it to Dwayne Jarrett as Leinart does. UCLA has a rather modest running game behind Maurice Drew, and once you get past tight end Marcedes Lewis, the Bruins' receiving corps consists of a collection of no-names.

Junior Taylor, the team's top receiver, blew out his knee in the third game of the season against Oklahoma. Yet, despite throwing to the likes of Joe Cowan, Marcus Everett and Brandon Breazell, who caught the game-winning touchdown pass in overtime against Stanford, Olson is No.5 in the nation in pass efficiency at 165.3 — Leinart is third — and needs two touchdown passes to tie Cade McNown's single-season school record.

Olson, who has played for three offensive coordinators at the school, started five games as a true freshman in 2002 before splitting time with Matt Moore when Karl Dorrell took over for Bob Toledo as coach the following season.

As a junior, Olson threw 20 TDs, but he tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee during Las Vegas Bowl and then had to stave off highly touted transfer Ben Olson (no relation) in the fall to win the starting job.

The Bruins are glad he did, as Drew Olson has led UCLA to comeback victories after trailing Washington, Cal, Washington State and Stanford by 10, 12, 17 and 21 points, respectively, in the fourth quarter. Olson has completed 45 of 61 passes for 539 yards and six touchdowns in the fourth quarter and overtime of those games.

Heisman Trophy numbers, if you ask me.

Snakes and sparklers

-My top 5 Heisman picks: 1, Olson; 2, QB Vince Young, Texas; 3, Bush; 4, Leinart; 5, tie, Quinn and RB Brian Calhoun, Wisconsin (there's no way the Badgers are 8-1 and playing Penn State with the Big Ten title on the line without him).

-Greg Papa is my favorite football radio play-by-play announcer, but I disagreed with his assessment of Jeff Fisher going for two after the Titans scored to make it 17-12 on Sunday against the Raiders. There's no difference between a five-point deficit and a four-point deficit — you need a touchdown either way — so you might as well go for two and try to cut it to three points.

-Too bad Pavel Bure retired. The "Russian Rocket" could have scored 75 goals in the new NHL if he were healthy.

-I was hoping the World Series would last longer and we could see a game with retro unis. Imagine the Astros wearing their crayon explosion jerseys and the White Sox donning their purple-and-white softball duds.

David Schoen can be reached at by e-mail at dschoen@angnewspapers.com.