Heisman Watch Week One: Manziel Shines In His Short Time

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Johnny Manziel

Say what you will about Johnny Manziel’s 30-minute suspension on Saturday, but the Texas A&M quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner certainly made the most of his limited playing time and limited exposure. In just eight pass attempts Manziel posted three touchdowns and 94 yards, while completing six of those attempts. He added a handful of yards on the ground, but for what it was — a lost game in Manziel’s Heisman repeat hopes no matter what the result — this was about as good as the Aggies could have hoped for.

Braxton Miller

Braxton Miller kept it simple against Buffalo in Ohio State’s season opener. Twenty-two pass attempts and 17 rush attempts netted 255 yards and two touchdowns. Leg cramps eventually sidelined the Buckeyes’ Heisman candidate, and a interception returned against him will go down as a bruise on his day. Miller will have a chance to knock some more of the rust off the next few weeks — with games against San Diego State, California and FCS Florida A&M.

Teddy Bridgewater

Teddy Bridgewater might have the inside track on one of the biggest statistical seasons in 2013 as a simple result of an easy Louisville schedule. That, of course, is not Bridgewater’s fault, and if his performance Sunday is to be believed, we could see plenty from him the season. Bridgewater passed for 355 yards and five touchdowns — a solid debut against Ohio. Who knows what Bridgewater can do next.

Jadeveon Clowney

Rust and a stomach bug very demonstrably hindered Jadeveon Clowney against North Carolina in his first game of the season, as he finished with just three first half tackles and no sacks. That being said, however, expect Clowney to bounce back in a big way as the season wears on. And he’ll get his first big test next weekend against Georgia in a prime SEC showdown.

Marcus Mariota  

Marcus Mariota proved his dual-threat ability against Nicholls State on Saturday in Oregon’s season debut, which, in classic Oregon fashion, turned into an all-out blowout. In the 66-3 victory, Mariota accounted for three touchdowns, two on the ground, and 347 yards in total offense. Without Chip Kelly, the Ducks looked much the same, with Mariota’s teammate De’Anthony Thomas proving a threat around the field and Mariota leading a ruthlessly efficient attack. Looks like the Oregon’s we’ve come to expect is definitely back.

Others To Watch

De’Anthony Thomas

Thomas was responsible for 130 yards, 128 of which were on the ground, and two touchdowns on Saturday, but was clearly outdone by his quarterback teammate.

Tahj Boyd

Leading Clemson to the win of the first weekend of college football would turn eyes the way of Boyd no matter how he did it, but he ended up accounting for five touchdowns in the thrilling Saturday night game. He’ll be one to keep an eye on early.

AJ McCarron

AJ McCarron’s ingrown toenail made headline news, then it was his special teams and defense, and not his offensive attack, that helped Alabama get by Virginia Tech.

2013 Preseason Heisman Watch: Johnny Football Has Plenty of Competition

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Johnny Manziel

A wilder offseason could not have been imaginable for Johnny Manziel, the first freshman ever to win the Heisman Trophy and now the de facto favorite for the trophy headed into 2013. But has the off-field persona detracted from the monster that made SEC defenses tremble throughout 2012?

We can only wait until kickoff to find out whether Manziel can replicate 3,706 yards passing, 1,410 yards rushing and 47 combined touchdowns of 2012 while leading the preseason top-five Aggies.

Braxton Miller

Somehow, leading a 12-0 Ohio State team wasn’t nearly enough to get Braxton Miller a Heisman Trophy invite last season. In years past, such an accomplishment would have netted any Buckeye at least an invite, and a likely trip to the BCS title game, but on a schedule widely viewed as soft and ineligibility for the postseason, Miller was passed over.

Collecting 2,039 yards passing, 1,271 yards rushing, 28 total touchdowns again this season, when the Buckeyes are among the national title favorites, would likely put Miller’s name at the top of the heap. Let’s see if he can do it again.

AJ McCarron

AJ McCarron has the chance in 2013 to capture another national title. The man’s already been affiliated with three title winners at Alabama, after redshirting during the first of the three titles under Nick Saban in 2009. Yet, the quarterback on the best team in the nation, a position that usually nets some Heisman hype.

But despite nearly 3,000 yards passing and 30 touchdown tosses against just three interceptions, McCarron didn’t even register in the top 10 in 2012. Why can he do for an encore in 2013?

Jadeveon Clowney

Jadeveon Clowney, a defensive end with primetime Heisman potential for 2013, has been giving SEC offenses fits for two seasons. Now, after setting South Carolina records for sacks (12) and tackles for loss in 2012, the All-American has a legit shot at grabbing the Heisman trophy as a defensive player.

That would be the first time in more than 15 years that a defensive-listed player claimed the trophy, and even then Charles Woodson’s win was predicated at least partly on his ability as a return man. Could Clowney break the streak?

De’Anthony Thomas 

Cut in the Chip Kelly mold of a Oregon Duck, how will De’Anthony Thomas follow a productive 2012 season without Kelly at the helm? It’s going to be an interesting year in Eugene, but mostly because Thomas and quarterback Marcus Mariota are legitimate contenders for the Heisman Trophy.

Thomas, an all-around threat, rushed for 701 yards, had 445 yards receiving, and had 611 yards in returns. Add 18 total touchdowns and Thomas can produce all over the field. Can he produce in the Heisman race?

Others To Watch

Teddy Bridgewater

Louisville’s quarterback might have the best shot in the country of running an undefeated record, but will the lack of recognized competition on Bridgewater and the Cardinals’ schedule hurt his chances?

Aaron Murray

Just a play or two away from leading the Bulldogs to a national title game berth last season, Aaron Murray returns with the chance to break through the Alabama-LSU wall that has gone up in the SEC. Setting records at Georgia for passing yards and touchdowns was not enough last year, perhaps it will be this year.

Marqise Lee

Among the nation’s best at the wide receiver position last season, Lee enters the year as a preseason favorite for many of the receiving awards, but can he push beyond the positional trophies and make his way into the Heisman conversation?

2013 BCS AQ Conference Profiles: Big Ten

BCS Know How is taking you through the six automatic-qualifying BCS conferences in preparation for the 2013 season. Our easy-to-digest previews continue with the Big Ten. Scroll down to see our profiles of the other conferences.

Conference: Big Ten Conference (Big Ten, B1G)

Active Since: 1896

Current Member Schools:

Leaders Division: Nebraska Cornhuskers, Michigan Wolverines, Iowa Hawkeyes, Northwestern Wildcats, Michigan State Spartans, Minnesota Golden Gophers
Legends Division: Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Ohio State Buckeyes, Penn State Nittany Lions, Purdue Boilermakers, Wisconsin Badgers (12)

2013 Bowl Affiliations and Tie-Ins: Rose Bowl (BCS), Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, Gator Bowl, Heart of Dallas Bowl, Outback Bowl, Capital One Bowl (8)

2012 Results:
Conference Champion — Wisconsin Badgers
Conference Runner-up — Nebraska Cornhuskers
BCS Bowl Results: 2013 Rose Bowl — Stanford 20 vs. Wisconsin 15
Overall Bowl Record: 2-5

Heisman Hopefuls: Ohio State QB Braxton Miller, Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez, Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah, Michigan QB Devin Gardner

BCS Know How’s 2013 Predictions:
Conference Champion — Ohio State Buckeyes
Conference Runner-up — Nebraska Cornhuskers
BCS bids: Ohio State — Rose Bowl
Heisman Finalists — Braxton Miller

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.