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?

Watching the Heisman Watchmen Week Eight: Klein storms to national lead in trophy race

One loss could not sway national Heisman pundits away from their support of West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. Two losses? That’s a whole different story.

Submitting a subpar performance for a second straight week in the Mountaineers’ second straight crushing loss to a conference foe sends Smith tumbling in Heisman watches from around the country. But more importantly, the loss suffered at the hands of Kansas State allowed another Heisman hopeful — Collin Klein — to skyrocket to a unanimous endorsement for the trophy from pundits around the country.

Accounting for seven touchdowns will do that for you. Still, Klein has plenty of threats just behind him — most notably Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, who receives the glut of second-place looks this week from around the Heisman watching territory.

Off to the races!

ESPN Experts Poll

1. Collin Klein
2. Manti Te’o
3. Kenjon Barner
4. AJ McCarron
5. Braxton Miller

CBS Sports/Heisman Pundit Heisman Watch

1. Collin Klein
2. Manti Te’o
3. AJ McCarron
4t. Geno Smith
4t. Braxton Miller
4t. Kenjon Barner

Sports Illustrated Heisman Watch

1. Collin Klein
2. Manti Te’o
3. AJ McCarron
4. Braxton Miller
5. Geno Smith

USA Today Heisman Survey

1. Collin Klein
2. Manti Te’o
3. Braxton Miller
4. Geno Smith
5. Matt Barkley

BCS Know How Heisman Watch

1. Collin Klein
2. Braxton Miller
3. Manti Te’o
4. Geno Smith
5. Montee Ball

Consensus

1. Kansas State QB Collin Klein (25)
2. Notre Dame LB Manti Te’o (19)
3. Ohio State QB Braxton Miller (12)
4.  Alabama QB AJ McCarron (8)
5. West Virginia QB Geno Smith (7)

Others Receiving Votes: Oregon RB Kenjon Barner (5); Wisconsin RB Montee Ball (1); USC QB Matt Barkley (1)

Again a first-place vote is worth five points, a second-place four, and so on until a fifth place vote is worth one point.

Any other suggestions of Heisman Watches to add? Let me know!

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?

Watching the Heisman Watchmen Week Seven: Geno Smith retains support despite first loss

Could it be that Geno Smith’s hold on the Heisman race slipped when he and West Virginia were unable to even really hang with Texas Tech last weekend?

By all accounts, no, Smith is still the prohibitive favorite among national Heisman pundits, no questions asked. Sure, his stock may have fallen, but really, there isn’t anyone to replace Smith at this juncture in the season.

How can we say this? Well, for the third straight year, we’ll be tracking the Heisman race around the internet. We’ll take five different Heisman watches from around the country and compile them here for easy consumption. Stay tuned throughout the rest of the season to see how the race shapes out.

Off to the races!

ESPN Experts Poll

1. Geno Smith
2. Braxton Miller
3. Collin Klein
4. Manti Te’o
5. De’Anthony Thomas

CBS Sports/Heisman Pundit Heisman Watch

1. Geno Smith
2. Collin Klein
3. Braxton Miller
4. Johnny Manziel
5t. Marqise Lee
5t. Manti Te’o

Sports Illustrated Heisman Watch

1. Geno Smith
2. Braxton Miller
3. Collin Klein
4. Manti Te’o
5. AJ McCarron

Sporting News Heisman Watch

1. Geno Smith
2. Braxton Miller
3. Collin Klein
4. Manti Te’o
5. Johnny Manziel

BCS Know How Heisman Watch

1. Geno Smith
2. Braxton Miller
3. Collin Klein
4. De’Anthony Thomas
5. Montee Ball

Consensus

1. West Virginia QB Geno Smith (25)
2. Ohio State QB Braxton Miller (19)
3. Kansas State QB Collin Klein (16)
4. Notre Dame LB Manti Te’o (7)
5t. Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel (3)
5t. Oregon RB De’Anthony Thomas (3)

Others Receiving Votes: Wisconsin RB Montee Ball (1); Alabama QB AJ McCarron (1); USC WR Marqise Lee (1)

Again a first-place vote is worth five points, a second-place four, and so on until a fifth place vote is worth one point.

Any other suggestions of Heisman Watches to add? Let me know!

Heisman Watch Week Seven: Ball, Klein and Miller excel while Smith underperforms in a loss

Geno Smith

Shocking as it was, Geno Smith’s one-touchdown performance in West Virginia’s loss to Texas Tech could have been much worse for the quarterback’s Heisman hopes. Sure, the senior wasn’t nearly the picture of efficiency that he had been in weeks past, but his 29 completions in 55 attempts netted him 275 yards and a score, good statistics on a bad day overall for West Virginia.

Smith’s stock is hit, but not all that hard. Win out with the kind of performances we’ve come to expect and he’ll remain atop this chase.

Montee Ball

After dissapearing from this year’s Heisman race, Wisconsin running back Montee Ball made a sizable statement against Purdue on Saturday, and proved voters shouldn’t give up on his Heisman possibilities just yet. The senior running back rushed for 247 yards and three touchdowns in the Badgers’ 38-14 victory over Purdue.

During his performance, Ball set the Big Ten conference record for rushing touchdowns, and is back in this thing in full force. With a stringent Big Ten schedule ahead, more performances like this could spell a repeat trip to the Heisman ceremony.

De’Anthony Thomas

A bye week for Thomas and the Ducks spelt a week to rest and recover before the stretch run of the BCS and Pac-12 schedule heads Oregon’s way. For the season, Thomas has compiled 377 yards rushing, 205 yards receiving, nine total touchdowns and 233 yards combined on kick and punt returns.

Nothing gaudy, but the numbers combined give Thomas 815 yards combined total offense on just 77 touches, more than 10 yards of offense per touch.

Braxton Miller

In easily handling Indiana, Braxton Miller was ever the performer he’s been all season, throwing for 211 yards and two touchdowns to go with another big day on the ground — 149 yards and another score. Miller, too, led the Buckeyes to another victory, to run their undefeated start to the 2012 season to seven straight games and three straight in the Big Ten.

Leading a team that is ineligible for both postseason play and BCS consideration, the performance Miller has put up to this point in the season is something that can’t be ignored, and will receive plenty of Heisman watch moving forward.

Collin Klein

When his team needed it most Saturday, Kansas State quarterback Colin Klein delivered again and again, rushing for three touchdowns and 105 yards to help the Wildcats avoid a shocking upset to Iowa State. Though he did not throw for any passing touchdowns, Klein’s performance in clutch situations provided Kansas State with exactly what it needed to keep the Cyclones from pulling the upset of the weekend.

Keeping his passing numbers efficient and mistake-free to go with dominant ground performances like this could be the recipe for success for Klein moving forward.

On The Radar:

Denard Robinson

Don’t look now, but Denard Robinson is producing at a high level again. Could the constant September Heisman winner make some noise in the later months in 2012?

EJ Manuel

Manuel had a nice bounce-back performance Saturday against Boston College. But with successes from Montee Ball and Colin Klein ahead of him, Manuel falls out of the top five. He’s nowhere close to out of this thing, though.

Heisman Watch Week Six: Klein, Smith shine against Big 12 foes

De’Anthony Thomas

De’Anthony Thomas continues to collect yards in bunches, pushing Washington’s defense to the limit in his reduced work load against the Huskies, and staying in the middle of the Heisman race. On just 10 carries, Thomas racked up 75 yards and a touchdown to go with a 12-yard reception. Thomas also provided 35 yards of field positioning offense from two kick returns in the early part of the game.

Geno Smith

In the biggest of spots, against a rising Texas team, Geno Smith was skillful yet again on Saturday, throwing for four more touchdowns and 268 yards to help lead West Virginia past the Longhorns. Sure, Smith’s 10 incompletions were his second highest on the year, but Smith was his usual efficient self, providing the offense the Mountaineers needed to win in their first trip to Austin as a member of the Big 12.

With more Big 12 action in store, all of which promises more of the offensive fireworks we’ve seen already, Smith is likely to continue to collect the same impressive numbers he’s been grabbing all season. Smith

EJ Manuel

Just a week after shining against South Florida, EJ Manuel and Florida State came back to earth in a shocking loss to North Carolina State, a game which saw Manuel and the Seminoles come out strong, but falter toward the end to bring Manuel back to the Heisman pack. Passing for 218 yards and a touchdown against a game Wolfpack defensive attack, Manuel was unable to lead the Seminoles to a second-half scoring drive.

With plenty of season remaining, Manuel has all the time he needs to rebound from the loss, but he will need to lead the Seminoles to victories in the coming weeks if he hopes to stay in the conversation.

Braxton Miller

In an all-out rout of presumed Big Ten favorites through the season’s first month, Braxton Miller had a coming out party on the ground, leading Ohio State past Nebraska and showing the country just what kind of damage he can do. Breaking a Ohio State record, Miller broke off a 72-yard touchdown run that helped the Buckeyes top the Cornhuskers, 63-38. In all, Miller rushed for 186 yards and a score on a day where his arm was not needed nearly as much — as Miller only completed seven of 14 attempts for 127 yards and a touchdown.

Collin Klein

Not needing to give everything he had against Kansas, Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein still racked up strong stats against the Jayhawk defense, continuing a strong start to the Wildcats’ season. Klein scored twice through the air and twice on the ground to lead the Wildcats to a convincing 56-16 victory in a game that had all the makings of a stat sheet filler for Klein coming into the contest — a promise Klein kept.

Looking every bit the runner and the passer performances like the one Klein gave against Kansas on Saturday would be sure to keep him among the most important names in college football for weeks to come.

On The Radar:

Matt Barkley

More of what you might expect from Barkley against Utah, as the senior passed for three touchdowns and 303 yards against the Utes defense.

Aaron Murray

Murray chose a bad time to have his worst performance of the season, against South Carolina, unable to help the Bulldogs muster much offense and completing just over a third of his passes.