COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -A few years ago, Missouri quarterback Brad Smith showed up on some preseason Heisman Trophy watch lists.
A do-it-all player on a so-so team had zero chance, no matter how many school records Smith set, of winning the Heisman.
Chase Daniel is a different story. Smith's successor as the Tigers' quarterback has the impressive personal resume with a supporting cast and record to match.
``A couple of things have to happen,'' coach Gary Pinkel said. ``You've got to win at a high level and you've got to play consistently at a very, very high level.''
Done and done.
Missouri is 8-1, the school's best start since 1969, ranked No. 7 and in sixth-place in the BCS. Their junior quarterback is a major reason, leading a high-powered offense that averages 42 points with a pair of victories over ranked teams.
Daniel is in the top 10 in the nation in seven major categories, including total offense in which he ranks fifth at 354 yards per game. Missouri leads the nation in converting on third down (57 percent) and fourth down (100 percent).
Daniel doesn't shy away from Heisman talk. He's a college football fan, too, hurrying home after wins to check out the competition on TV, and reading up on the subject.
``You hear it around and I read Internet stuff, I always have,'' Daniel said. ``I'm not going to change my ways.
``I see it, it's out there and it's great for the program.''
Daniel is on a roll lately. Last week he was the Big 12 offensive player of the week after throwing for a career-best 421 yards and tying his own school record with five touchdown passes in a 55-10 blowout victory at Colorado.
``That's not normal for those 45-50 yard balls to be that accurate,'' Pinkel said. ``Certainly he played an outstanding game.
``I think he also would be the first one to tell you his offensive line did an exceptional job.''
Of course, upcoming games closer to the early December Heisman ballot deadline are critical, headed by the Tigers' upcoming game against Kansas for the Big 12 North championship on Nov. 24 in Kansas City.
``If he can get those kinds of accolades and people are mentioning him in that light, that would certainly be positive,'' Pinkel said. ``Then, we'd have to decide what direction we would go.''
Much like Smith in 2004, Daniel was a dark horse Heisman candidate before the season started, coming off a very productive first year with a fairly frustrating finish. Along the way, he broke a bunch of Smith's records.
Missouri finished 8-5 and played in its best bowl in years, losing in the final seconds to Oregon State in the Sun Bowl, but began the year 6-0.
This year, the only stumble came in a 10-point loss at Oklahoma. Daniel threw two interceptions and botched a handoff for a third turnover in that game, offsetting 361 yards passing.
Against the Tigers' seven BCS-conference opponents overall he has thrown 18 touchdown passes with only five interceptions and a 71-percent completion rate.
Daniel likes the bottom line, Missouri's national profile, the best.
``I just know my name is being mentioned,'' Daniel said. ``Everyone can get mentioned if they have a couple of good games back to back or a good season on a good team.
``I realize that, and it's nothing to be worried about.''
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