We’re a little more than 48 hours from the announcement of the Heisman award winner. Early favorites Matt Barkley, Montee Ball, Denard Robinson, Landry Jones, and Geno Smith have all fallen by the wayside – some more spectacularly than others – and we’re now left with a three-man field.
If you’re sensible, you’ve already made your pick. But if you need a little more convincing, here’s the CasinoReview rundown on the race to be the Nation’s number one footballer.
Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M) Quarterback
Passing: 273/400 (68.3%), 3,419 yards, 8.5 Y/A, 24 TD, 8 INT, Rating: 155.8
Rushing: 184 Carries, 1,181 yards, 6.4 Y/C, 19 TD
Total: 4,600 yards, 43 TD, 8 INT
Whilst the nation was enamored with the exploits of Collin Klein and, to a lesser extent, Braxton Miller, Johnny Manziel quietly went about his business this season. Quietly that is until that win over Alabama. That win over Alabama could well be the reason “Johnny Football” goes home with the stiff arm trophy on Saturday.
In the eyes of a lot of voters, knocking Alabama from its No.1 perch – and almost from the National Championship picture – will go double for anything any of the other Heisman contenders achieved this season, and that includes Notre Dame going undefeated.
However, some will be quick to point a finger at the fact that the Aggies lost twice this season and did not win a conference championship. Manziel may have posted gaudy numbers but his team was not as successful as either Alabama or K-State. Cue counterargument that A&M achieved far more than expected with arguably more limited resources and in the midst of a change in conference.
Then there’s the fact that Manziel is a freshman, and no first-year player (true or red shirt) has ever won the Heisman. This means those voters that could be considered stiffs will vote against him, claiming that he hasn’t paid his dues. Then there will be those that vote solely to change that trend.
Still, the SEC Offensive Player of the Year and winner of the Dave O’Brien National Quarterback Award is the frontrunner as we approach the final 48 hours of betting.
Manti Te’o (Notre Dame) Linebacker
103 TKL, 5.5 TFL, 1.5 SK, 7 INT, 1 fumble recovery
Manti Te’o has already taken home a slew of awards following Notre Dame’s undefeated season, including the Maxwell Award for the national’s most outstanding player.
The Maxwell Award can be considered a good indicator of how Heisman voting might pan out, which is bad news for Te’o. In the 1990s, eight Maxwell Award winners went on to take the Heisman, but in the 12 years since, only two players have achieved that same feat: Tim Tebow in 2007 and Cam Newton in 2010.
Te’o also has the disadvantage that no outright defensive player has ever been awarded the Heisman. Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson took the award in 1997 but he also played the role of punt returner.
Defensive players not winning big awards is a trend that is hardly exclusive to College Football. In the NFL, only two defensive players have even won the league MVP award: Alan Page in 1971 and Lawrence Taylor in 1986. In the NHL, only one defenseman – Chris Pronger in 1999-00 – has won the Hart Memorial Trophy in the past 30 years. In fact, were it not for Bobby Orr of the Boston Bruins winning the award three consecutive years in the early 70s, that number would stretch back as far as 68 years. So Te’o needn’t feel alone.
As with Manziel, there will be voters that go against Te’o simply for tradition’s sake. Some might not necessarily consider the defensive side of the football less important, but perceive it to be harder to judge, and more of a team effort. If that’s the case, the Irish defense could well be the Heisman winner. And then there will be those that vote for Te’o simply for something new, something fresh.
Collin Klein (Kansas State) Quarterback
Passing: 180/272 (66.2%), 2,490 yards, 9.2 YPA, 15 TD, 7 INT, Rating: 156.1
Rushing: 194 Carries, 890 yards, 4.6 Y/C, 22 TD
Total: 3,380 yards, 37 TD, 7 INT
A frontrunner for the Heisman for much of the season, Klein’s stock has fallen since the Wildcats not so much lost as got thrashed by Baylor on Nov. 17. A week previously, Johnny Manziel had been propelled into the limelight by A&M’s victory over Alabama, and so began the move towards Manziel in the Heisman race.
Oddsmakers have lengthened the odds on Klein, who now sits at 25/1 to take the award. But, in reality, the Kansas State quarterback isn’t out of the running.
On numbers alone, Klein didn’t have as good a season as Manziel. However, his side picked up one more win than the Aggies and were crowned Big 12 champions. Championships can do funny things when it comes time to vote.
Then there are the voters that will choose Klein simply because he’s not a rookie and he’s not a defender. Whilst we all might consider this a ridiculous reason for voting, there are some hardline voters out there with that mentality. And they don’t all live in Little Manhattan. However, if Klein was to be chosen, it would have to be considered a major upset.
Take: Manti Te’o – Firstly, you’re going to make next to nothing if you take Manziel at this stage and he wins. It’s too late to consider covering your bases so you may as well be a little more daring than you might otherwise be. That being said, taking Klein could be a little too extreme; he really does look to be out of the picture. Which leaves Te’o.
Now, Te’o has a lot going for him. Not only has be already been an award-giver’s darling, his team is No. 1 in the nation – according to the polls – and has a chance of winning the National Championship. Without Te’o that wouldn’t be the case. He really has been all over the field. Then consider this, with seven interceptions he has a share of the lead across the nation. No safety has more interceptions than Te’o, let alone linebackers!
Te’o has a genuine shot at making history, as does Manziel, but take a potential champion over the outstanding quarterback on a very good side.