KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A trend figures to be disrupted tonight no matter who wins the Heisman Trophy.
If it's running back Mark Ingram, he will become the first Alabama player to capture college football's top individual award.
If it's Nebraska tackle Ndamukong Suh, he will become just the second winner from the defensive side in the award's 75 years.
If Stanford running back Toby Gerhart wins, he will have come out of nowhere, and if he joins Ingram and Suh in the top three, it will mark the first time since 1980 that a quarterback hasn't finished in the money.
If it's Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, he will become the second to win it twice.
If it's Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, well, he will be the first winner whose middle name is Colt. Daniel is his first name.
OK, the last one is a stretch, but the idea that this is something of an unusual Heisman competition - and perhaps one of the closest - isn't.
"To me, it's really up in the air," said two-time Heisman winner and voter Archie Griffin, a former Ohio State running back.
The race was scrambled from the beginning when last season's winner, Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, was injured on opening weekend and appeared in just three games.
That pushed the second- and third-place finishers in last year's voting, McCoy and Tebow, into the role of favorites. They led their teams to perfect regular seasons, but uneven play in the conference championship games last weekend might have cost them, because opponents in those games made greater statements.
Ingram rushed for 113 yards and three touchdowns, and took a screen pass 69 yards in the Crimson Tide's victory over Florida for the Southeastern Conference championship. That performance pushed his season total to a school-record 1,542 rushing yards.
"You kind of dream about this growing up and watching all the great players who won the Heisman Trophy," Ingram said when he was announced as a finalist.
Suh turned in a game for the ages against the Longhorns in the Big Twelve championship game with 41/2 sacks and a total of seven tackles for losses, pushing the Cornhuskers to the brink of a huge upset.
"I went out in that game, and all I wanted to do was come out with the Big Twelve championship ring," Suh said Wednesday when he accepted the Lombardi Trophy as the nation's top lineman.
The ballot deadline was Monday. If voters waited, Ingram's and Suh's chances were helped, and Gerhart probably wasn't hurt much. A week earlier, he had finished strong with three rushing touchdowns and a scoring pass in a win over Notre Dame.
Gerhart wasn't picked up on many Heisman antennas until the season's second half, but he started to make his case when he rushed for a total of 401 yards in back-to-back victories over Oregon and Southern California.