The Heisman Trophy is college football’s most coveted individual award. Each week, Garnet Report’s Avery Wilks gives you the inside scoop on this year’s likely Heisman candidates.
Author’s Note: Dropping from the list is Oregon RB De’Anthony Thomas and Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel.
6. Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon (7-0)
Last Game Stats: 43-21 Win @ Arizona State
Next Game: Barner and Oregon’s explosive rushing attack faces a terrible Colorado team next Saturday at 3 p.m. Though he’ll be up against one of the worst defenses imaginable, Barner’s statistics may actually take a drop as the game will be a blowout by midway through the first quarter.
5. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia (5-2)
Smith was the clear victim Saturday night in the battle of the nation’s two top Heisman contenders, as Kansas State smothered him from the game’s beginning to its end. As much as Klein impressed against West Virginia, Smith played just as poorly against Kansas State’s stout defense. After back-to-back pitiful performances, it’s safe to say Smith’s Heisman buzz has quieted, and the senior quarterback won’t be favored to win college football’s most prestigious award. In fact, unless Smith makes a dramatic turnaround–and soon–the Mountaineer quarterback could find himself out of most Heisman conversations by the season’s end.
Last Game Stats: 55-14 Loss vs. Kansas State
|Comp||Att||Pass Yds||Comp %||TD||INT||Rushes||Rush Yds||Rush TD|
Next Game: Smith and WVU will be grateful for a bye next week, but face a stout TCU defense on November 3.
4. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State (8-0)
Miller left the game in an ambulance with an undisclosed injury late in the third quarter, but his replacement managed to lead the Buckeyes to the comeback win over the Boilermakers. Miller drops to fourth on this list because of his poor performance before leaving the game, because I’m not yet sure of the seriousness of his injury, and due to the excellent play of both Te’o and Barkley–players who are actually eligible for postseason play. While Miller is clearly the most talented player on one of the nation’s best teams, I’ll hold off on crowning him until he proves himself against an elite defense.
Last Game Stats: 29-22 Win vs. Purdue
|Comp||Att||Yds||Comp %||Pass TD||INT||Rushes||Rush Yds||Rush TD|
Next Game: The Buckeyes travel to State College next Saturday to take on Penn State at 5:30 p.m. The Nittany Lions are the winners of five straight and will surely enjoy a great home field advantage in Happy Valley, so Miller will need to be on point if he hopes to escape with a win.
3. Matt Barkley, QB, Southern Cal (6-1)
Barkley’s six touchdown passes last Saturday brings his career total to 102, an incredible mark for the Trojan quarterback. Despite recording over 300 yards and six touchdowns against the Buffaloes, what strikes me as most impressive was Barkley’s accuracy, finishing with only one incompletion on the night. This being said, Barkely moves up to third on my list as much because of his performance against Colorado as because of his chances to make some noise in the upcoming weeks. Sitting first in the Pac 12 South, Southern Cal has Oregon, Notre Dame, and a probably championship game left to play this season. Barkley’s Heisman hopes depend heavily on how he steps up to the adversity facing him.
Last Game Stats: 50-6 vs. Colorado
Next Game: Barkley and Southern Cal travel to Arizona next Saturday to face the Wildcats at 3:30 p.m. Though Arizona has had a tough campaign in 2012, the ‘Cats are coming off a huge win over Washington and could prove a tough challenge for the Trojans.
2. Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame (7-0)
A defensive player as the number two Heisman contender this late in the year? Without seeing Te’o play this year, I never would have believed it either. With a sputtering offense and questions at quarterback, Notre Dame owes its success to Te’o's skill and leadership of the Irish defense, a unit that ranks second in the nation in scoring defense. Te’o's nose for the football and clutch play has helped Notre Dame to hold opponents to a measly 8.7 points per game, and the senior linebacker was up to his usual tricks against BYU, providing double-digit tackles for the fifth time this season and recording his fourth interception of the year to help the Irish slip past the Cougars.
Last Game Stats: 17-14 Win vs. BYU
|Tackles||Sacks||Tackles for Loss||Pass Deflections||INT|
Next Game: Notre Dame’s trip to #8 Oklahoma next Saturday at 8 p.m. could be the most important game of the year for Te’o's Heisman candidacy. A big win and a solid performance here could all but punch the linebacker’s trip to New York in December.
1. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State (7-0)
There’s no better way to become the Heisman front-runner than to play your best game of the season to beat the previous favorite. That’s exactly what Klein did last Saturday, outplaying Smith in every way in Kansas State’s rout of Big 12 opponent West Virginia in Morgantown. Klein was dominant against the Mountaineers, finding the end zone seven times to establish himself as the top candidate to win the Heisman trophy. With the win Saturday, Kansas State remains undefeated and Klein has marquee wins over two ranked opponents. With several great chances to prove himself in the remainder of the season, Klein could conceivably run away from the field during the upcoming weeks.
Last Game Stats: 55-14 Win @ West Virginia
|Comp||Att||Yds||Comp %||TD||INT||Rushes||Rush Yds||Rush TD|
Next Game: Kansas State plays host to upstart #14 Texas Tech next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Though the Red Raiders haven’t faced the likes of Klein yet in 2012, they aren’t an opponent to be taken lightly, as they’ve proven over the past two weeks with wins over West Virginia and TCU.