Heisman Watch Week 14: Season Draws To A Close For Unusual Heisman Field

Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel’s redshirt freshman season was something of revelation for a conference that had already seen the likes of dual-threat quarterbacks Cam Newton and Tim Tebow dominate the nation and the conference in Heisman-winning years. But as Manziel rose to national prominence and broke the record for all-purpose yards first set by Tebow and then broken by Newton, his ability and Heisman potential was undeniable.

The 19-year-old they call Johnny Football finished with 3,419 passing yards, 1,181 rushing yards and 43 combined touchdowns — a stat line that would knock people out from a senior, but one that came from a redshirt freshman. There is little wonder so many believe Manziel is on track to become the first freshman winner in the trophy’s history.

Manti Te’o

Manti Te’o became a household name and the most visible defensive player in the country in 2012, and it wasn’t because of his nation-leading seven interceptions for a linebacker. It wasn’t his 1.5 sacks or 103 tackles, the second and third best performances in those categories in his four-year career.

No, instead, Te’o became the vocal leader of a Notre Dame team that surprised everyone by making their way from a fringe preseason top-25 to the nearly undisputed No. 1 team in the country and earning a berth in the national title. That alone — being the best and most visible player on the nation’s No. 1 team — means a lot in the Heisman race, and Te’o took advantage.

Marqise Lee

Few, if any, pegged Marqise Lee as USC’s leading Heisman hope headed into the 2012 season. But when quarterback Matt Barkley faded toward the middle of the season, Lee’s named slowly but surely crept up into the national radar. Despite his quarterback’s relatively lackluster production, Lee showed an uncanny ability to put up mind bending numbers. Capped by a 469-total-yard, two-touchdown day against Arizona,

Lee accounted for 1,680 yards receiving and 14 touchdowns — both career highs for the sophomore.

Collin Klein

Collin Klein’s season was a lot of things, but it certainly was not boring. Up and down, Klein provided the spark behind a Kansas State team that made its way to the top of the BCS rankings, but suffered such a crushing loss on national television in primetime that neither their BCS impact nor Klein’s Heisman hopes could be revived.

Still, Kansas State is on its way to a BCS bowl, and that’s thanks in large part to Klein, who was the trophy’s front-runner until a kid named Johnny Football showed up and stole the dual-threat quarterback attention of the country. Klein finished the year with 37 combined touchdowns on the ground and through the air, a season that will certainly get some Heisman attention, but will likely fall short in the end.

Braxton Miller

Braxton Miller had an unusual sophomore campaign at the helm of Ohio State. Leading a team ineligible for postseason play in a down year for the Big Ten conference, Miller was spectacular, passing for 2,039 yards and rushing for 1,271 more to go with 28 combined touchdowns. Most importantly, Miller led the Buckeyes, with little to play for but each other and their coaches, on an undefeated run through their regular season.

Sure, many discounted the Buckeyes’ 12-0 finish to the year because of their relatively weak schedule, but Miller’s dominance was undeniable at times. Though the sophomore will likely not get the trophy this year, he will certainly have a lot to say about the 2013 Heisman race.

Heisman Watch Week 13: Johnny Manziel, Manti Te’o Cap Off Strong Seasons

Collin Klein

Collin Klein and Kansas State were off this weekend, readying for a season-ending showdown that could decide whether the Wildcats can claim a BCS bowl berth or not. The Heisman, which seemed Klein’s to take if he could continue to lead the nation’s No. 1 team, slipped from the senior’s hands before Kansas State dropped its first game of the season last weekend, but truly was out of his control once Johnny Manziel appear on the scene. With one game left, Klein has still put up gaudy numbers — rushing for 20 touchdowns and throwing for 14 more while accounting for more than 3,000 yards of total offense.

Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel’s redshirt freshman season came to a close Saturday with a dominating performance against Missouri in Texas A&M’s impressive season-ending win over Missouri. In the Aggies’s 59-29 win, Manziel passed for three touchdowns and threw for two to go with 439 yards of combined offensive output. In the process, Manziel finished the 2012 season with the most total offense created by an SEC quarterback in conference history. Manziel’s redshirt freshman season bested the likes of Tim Tebow and Cam Newton, two Heisman winners in those years. Could Manziel be next on the list?

Marqise Lee

Catching passes from a quarterback other than Matt Barkley resulted in a somewhat down game from Lee in USC’s regular season-ending loss to Notre Dame. Lee went without a touchdown for the first time since a mid-October loss to Washington. His five catches netted him 75 yards, also his lowest production since the loss to the Huskies. Lee finishes the season with an impressive 14 touchdowns to go with more than 1,600 yards receiving.

Manti Te’o

Manti Te’o might not have had the best game of his season against USC on Saturday night, but his performance in perhaps the most important game the Fighting Irish have played in the BCS era will probably be enough to net him an invite to New York City for the trophy presentation. His interception on a pass from USC quarterback Max Wittek was his highlight of the night and gave him seven on the season, best among linebackers in the nation. With his season complete, Te’o can claim the title of the most visible player on the best team in the country, usually a big factor in Heisman voting.

Braxton Miller

Much like Manti Te’o, Braxton Miller helped his team cap an undefeated season with a victory over a traditional rival in a nationally televised game. Unlike Te’o, however, Miller will not get a shot at the national title game, or even a shot at a BCS bowl, given Ohio State’s ineligibility. But leading an ineligible team to an undefeated season should get Miller some real recognition. Whether that means an invite to NYC for the trophy presentation or not, it will certainly get Miller at or near the top of most watch lists for next season, along with Manziel and others. Against Michigan, Miller was an efficient 14 of 18 for 189 yards and 57 rushing yards.

Heisman Watch Week 12: Is Johnny Football Running Away With The Heisman?

Collin Klein

Collin Klein, leader of the newest No. 1 team in the BCS, came into Saturday with his grip on the Heisman race slipping. It’s certainly up for grabs again after Saturday. Sure, Klein’s three total touchdowns, two passing and one rushing, were important, but the thing that had kept Klein above the pack in the chase for the trophy — winning — went by the wayside on Saturday. Klein’s team suffered its first loss, and with it, Klein’s claim as the best player on the best team in the country is no longer true.

Johnny Manziel

The young gun in the Heisman race, Manziel took full advantage of what was offered to him Saturday — a chance to rack up some impressive statistics against a weaker opponent in Sam Houston State. Manziel did just that, putting up more than 350 yards in total offense to go with five total touchdowns against the Bearkats in Texas A&M’s big victory. Manziel was efficient, completing 14 of 20 passes for 267 yards and throwing just one pick, while racking up an even 100 yards on the ground. Manziel could be the favorite as we head down the home stretch.

Marqise Lee

Loss after loss, USC has fallen from the national title picture, but despite the losses, USC has produced a Heisman candidate producing at unprecedented levels. Marqise Lee did it again against UCLA, putting up 158 yards and a touchdown against the Bruins to burn through yet another Pac-12 defense easily. The wide receiver was not expected to vie for the trophy, given quarterback Matt Barkley and fellow wide receiver, junior Robert Woods’ prowess, but Lee has emerged as the top threat in the Trojans’ offense.

Manti Te’o

Manti Te’o might stake a claim to that title Klein has given up. The Fighting Irish linebacker may now be the best player on the best team in the country, as Notre Dame is expected to take over the BCS’s No. 1 spot when the sixth rankings are released tomorrow. Te’o was strong again against Wake Forest in the Irish’s shutout of the Demon Deacons on his senior day, recording a season-low five tackles, but also recording his sixth interception. The Irish linebacker is certainly staking a claim as the most visible defensive player in the nation.

Braxton Miller

His status grows the more the Buckeyes win, especially given Braxton Miller’s inability to lead his team to a bowl game or a Big Ten Championship Game. With their overtime victory over Wisconsin on Saturday, Ohio State moved to 11-0 on the season despite their postseason ineligibility. That in and of itself should be praise worthy for the Buckeyes quarterback. But his statistics hold up, as Miller was quiet and efficient behind center, completing 10 of 18 passes on Saturday.

Heisman Watch Week 11: Aggies’ Manziel makes his move

Collin Klein

On the weekend he returned from an injury that seemed to threaten his hopes at the Heisman trophy, Collin Klein was able to put in a solid performance in a key victory over TCU on Saturday, using his feet to help push Kansas State. Klein was admittedly underwhelming through the air, passing for just 145 yards and no touchdowns with a pick thrown. But his ground game made up for the aerial assault, as he provided the Wildcats with two key scores on the ground.

Johnny Manziel

It’s not really what Manziel did statistically that makes Johnny Manziel the emergent Heisman candidate of the weekend, it’s what his team did. In Texas A&M’s surprising victory over unbeaten No. 1 Alabama, Manziel was the quarterback the Aggies needed, throwing for two touchdowns and 253 yards in the victory. Again, there was nothing spectacular about the stats that Manziel produced Saturday, but that matters little for a trophy that always values big performances in big spots — and Manziel might have delivered the best example of the year Saturday.

Kenjon Barner

Barner was relatively unneeded in Oregon’s victory over California on Saturday, and an injury to the star running back certainly put a damper on his numbers, but Barner is far from out of the race. His 100 yards of total offense on Saturday was nothing to write home about, definitely, but the burner Barner can always turn his production back up, and when the time comes for Oregon to prove it belongs in the national title race, his performance (or lack thereof) could spark the Heisman conversation he needs.

Manti Te’o

Manti Te’o recorded a Notre Dame linebacker record sixth interception against Boston College in the Irish’s key victory on Saturday. Te’o’s has and continues to provide the spark the Irish need in key moments, and it was no different on Saturday. The 21-6 victory wasn’t pretty, but it was exactly what Notre Dame needed to do to stay in the national conversation, and another strong performance out of Te’o keeps him in the Heimsan conversation.

Braxton Miller

The Buckeyes quarterback and Ohio State were off this weekend, giving Braxton Miller the time he needs to rest and likely recover from a season that has tested him well. Miller has done many things this season to help the ineligible Buckeyes stay undefeated, a feat that should not and will not go unnoticed. He may fall short of the Heisman trophy this season, but at this early juncture, who better to hold the flag for 2013?

On The Radar:

Marqise Lee

The receiver can’t be stopped, bringing in more than 150 yards for the third straight week and hauling in a touchdown.

AJ McCarron

Tough break for McCarron on Saturday, who saw his Heisman hopes dwindle with the loss and two costly interceptions.

Heisman Watch Week 10: Barner’s big day is weekend’s best

Collin Klein

Even before leaving Saturday’s game with an injury, Collin Klein had racked up more than 300 yards in offense and had rushed for a touchdown. No matter, as Kansas State had already piled up on Oklahoma State — leading 38-17 — with Klein already having put together a strong day.

Of course, the injury weighs heavily on the minds of Kansas State fans and any Heisman prognosticators and voters, but without knowing much about Klein’s outlook, Saturday proved a strong, consistent showing for the trophy’s front-runner.

Geno Smith

In a loss, the stat stuffer Geno Smith returned for West Virginia, throwing for three touchdowns and nearly 300 yards in the Mountaineers loss to TCU on Saturday. Sure, it wasn’t the kind of performance that brought Smith to the front of the Heisman race earlier in the year, but it was a strong performance nonetheless.

Smith also accounted for 28 yards on the ground, but the truth is that Smith is not a strong Heisman candidate without a winning team behind him. Losses piling up mean less national attention for Smith, and in turn, less chance at the award.

Kenjon Barner

A school record rushing day proved just the boost Kenjon Barner needed in this Heisman race, as the Oregon running back had the performance of the weekend — rushing for 321 yards and five touchdowns.

Barner’s Heisman candidacy had been a slow burning flame that had begun to grow in the last few weeks, especially after teammate De’Anthony Thomas slowed down his production, but Saturday was all Barner’s. Now with 19 rushing touchdowns and 1,238 yards rushing on the season, Barner has certainly positioned himself well in the Heisman race.

Manti Te’o

Notre Dame was on the wire on Saturday against Pittsburgh, and needed three overtimes to put the Panthers away. But through it all, Manti Te’o was there when needed, once again, contributing eight tackles and two sacks as part of Notre Dame’s key 29-26 victory. Clearly, Te’o continues to be a key force in the Irish defensive attack, and is still a key player as the Heisman race enters its final stretch here at the end of the season.

Braxton Miller

Against Illinois, Braxton Miller clearly did not need to submit his best performance of the season — and did not — but was still able to post a strong day during the first weekend of November, as the Heisman race enters its final stretch. Throwing for two touchdowns and rushing for one more, Miller also accounted for nearly 300 yards of offense while leading Ohio State to yet another victory.

In the face of sanctions holding the Buckeyes out of postseason play, Miller’s performance is all the more admirable, and all the more reason for the quarterback to be among the Heisman hopefuls as we enter the season’s final stretch.

On The Radar:

Marqise Lee

The wide receiver had two more touchdowns and 157 receiving yards against Oregon, but the effort came in a loss. Could a sophomore really make noise in this race on a three- or four-loss team?

AJ McCarron

Heisman moments are difficult to come by. But AJ McCarron might have had one against LSU, driving his team for the winning touchdown on Saturday to keep Alabama’s undefeated season alive. Could that be the moment he needed to solidify a spot in the trophy’s race?

Heisman Watch Week Nine: Te’o, Klein come up big when needed

Collin Klein

A week after staking his claim to the role of Heisman favorite, Klein was able to avoid the classic letdown game against Texas Tech, combining to account for four touchdowns against the Red Raiders in Kansas State’s convincing victory. Leading what will be a team among the top three teams ranked in the country, Klein continues to show of his versatility, rushing for 83 yards to go with his 233 yards passing.

Geno Smith

Geno Smith and West Virginia were off on the weekend, trying desperately to recover from two straight blowout losses that have thrown wrenches in their Big 12 title hopes and Smith’s Heisman hopes. The senior quarterback has still accounted for nearly 2,500 yards passing and 26 touchdowns against just two interceptions. Smith can still recover in this race, and has the games ahead of him to do it.

Kenjon Barner

After scoring 56 points in the first half, at least one Oregon Duck was bound to show up here. This week, it’s Kenjon Barner, the burner who accounted for more than 150 yards in total offense, as well as two rushing touchdowns. For the year, Barner has posted impressive numbers, turning it up in recent weeks, having scored nine touchdowns in the last four weeks to bring his name to the forefront of many Heisman watches.

Manti Te’o

With Notre Dame put to the test Saturday night against Oklahoma, it was Te’o who came up with the big defensive play late that allowed the Irish to claim their first marquee victory of the year. Sure, Notre Dame had run a perfect route through their early season tests, but against Oklahoma they would be faced with a challenge far more difficult than they had seen. But it was Te’o who proved the different.

Te’o’s 11 tackles, two for a loss and a key interception late allowed Notre Dame to keep and extend the lead. It couldn’t have been better for Te’o on a national stage. He’s in this thing for real now.

Braxton Miller

In what many were expecting to be a big test for Ohio State, Braxton Miller came up big, accounting for three touchdowns in his return from a scary injury last weekend against Purdue. Miller threw for 143 yards and a score to go with his 134 yards and two scores on the ground to help the Buckeyes outlast Penn State. Despite their ineligibilty, the Buckeyes remain undefeated, and Miller has a lot to do with that. His Heisman hopes are as strong as they have been as we hit November.

On The Radar:

Montee Ball 

Not a good showing from Ball as Wisconsin’s hot streak snaps. Could Ball fight his way back into the picture for a second time this season?

De’Anthony Thomas

Thomas continues to fill up the stat sheet — did you see his punt return for a touchdown? — but the more his teammate Barner shines, the less to go around. His all-purpose production is unmatched, but is that enough for the Heisman cred?

Heisman Watch Week Eight: Klein rules the weekend

Collin Klein

Collin Klein picked a good time to have one of the best games of his collegiate career. Matched against the Heisman favorite and a nationally ranked conference opponent, Klein shone in ways he had yet to in 2012, combining for seven touchdowns (four on the ground, three through to go with more than 360 yards of total offense.

Klein’s performance when matched up against Geno Smith’s is all the more impressive, as Klein is now as serious a contender for the trophy as we’ve got.

Geno Smith

If last weekend punched some holes in Geno Smith’s Heisman Trophy candidacy, this weekend was more like tearing open the campaign. Against Collin Klein and Kansas State, Smith was well outshone by his fellow Heisman combatant.

Smith, the stat sheet stuffer in the early parts of the season, posted just 143 yards passing and threw two picks against just one touchdown toss. Klein, however, was compiling the best statistical performance of his career. Smith will have work to do.

Montee Ball

When Wisconsin was at its best in 2011, Montee Ball and James White were rushing all over Big Ten defenses, forcing opponents to submit to a crushing attack. The two were at it again on Saturday, as Ball rushed for 166 and two touchdowns in the Badgers battering of Minnesota.

Sure, White had more yards — and one more touchdown — but Ball’s season-long consistency returns him to the Heisman conversation.

Manti Te’o

It’s becoming hard to ignore the performances Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o is putting up week after week. Against BYU, the Irish linebacker had 10 tackles and a key interception in Notre Dame’s closer-than-expected victory over the Cougars. And that’s no surprise.

The senior star already had three interceptions going into the key Saturday showdown in South Bend to go with his 57 tackles coming into Saturday. With some key games coming for Notre Dame, continually strong performances could mean another trip to New York City for a defensive player.

Braxton Miller

Before leaving Saturday’s game with an injury that sent him to the hospital, Braxton Miller was well on his way to another statistically strong game. But all of that matters little to the Buckeye faithful and anyone interested in Miller’s future, as a vicious tackle from behind sent the star quarterback to the sidelines and then the hospital on the day. Whether Miller can return in the Buckeyes’ next game is to be seen, but his Heisman hopes remain still string.

On The Radar:

Denard Robinson

Robinson did enough to bring the Wolverines their first victory over Michigan State in his tenure at Michigan. But the statistics weren’t there. Will they be in the Big Ten stretch run?

De’Anthony Thomas

Thomas was more than contained on Thursday night against Arizona State. Can he turn it back up for the stretch run for the undefeated Ducks?