The Heisman Trophy
After four weeks of college football the Heisman race is heating up. There have been some incredible performances along with some disappointing ones. Some watch-listers haven't even realized their full potential while others have been dinged up or benched.
Several media members have already written off highly-regarded candidates, a practice which is fairly surprising. The Heisman isn't won in September against a slew of FCS and lower-tiered opponents.
The Heisman is won in November, when true champions emerge at both the individual and team level.
Marcus Lattimore runs against Missouri's defense
Marcus Lattimore's versatility was highlighted in South Carolina's 31-10 win over Missouri on Saturday. Lattimore rushed for 85 yards, two touchdowns and hauled in seven passes for 65 yards.
Stepfan Taylor gallops through USC's defense
Stanford had a bye week in week four but Stepfan Taylor's 153 rushing yards against USC a week ago is still fresh in a lot of voters' minds, mine included. Taylor also caught five passes for 65 yards.
Matt Barkley attempts a pass against Cal
The preseason favorite has had a bit of a rough start so far; Matt Barkley has already thrown five interceptions. Against Cal, Barkley went 22 of 34 for 192 yards, two touchdowns and two picks. Still, Barkley's season stats, including a 141.3 passer rating, are keeping him in the conversation.
Marqise Lee gets open against Cal
No other Heisman contender's name gets spelled more incorrectly than Southern California wide receiver Marqise Lee's. Marcus. Marquise. Marquis.
At least Lee gets plenty of respect from defensive backs. The speedy receiver— whose yards-after-catch is feared by every secondary coach— has a tendency to elicit yellow flags from sideline officials who watch cornerbacks draped over him in a last-ditch effort to avoid getting burned.
Lee has already had two triple-digit performances (197 and 100 receiving yards), six touchdowns and he is on pace for a 1,371 reception yardage (regular) season.
While Johnathan Franklin didn't have a great day against the Oregon State Beavers, his stats are still impressive. This power running back shredded the vaunted Blackshirts of Nebraska for 217 yards, a week after he torched Rice's defense with 214 rushing yards.
Franklin only mustered up 45 yards in the Bruins' 27-20 loss to the Beavers, but that disappointing number may be justified with senior guard Jeff Baca missing the game due to a presumable injury . With everyone healthy, expect to see Franklin's hype return to normal.
While it's almost impossible for a defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy (Michigan's Charles Woodson did it in 1997), it takes a very special defensive player to even be mentioned on a Top Five Heisman Watch List.
Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o is that special.
Against the Irish's rival Michigan on Saturday night, Te'o recorded two interceptions and was the most dominant force on the field. He was everywhere. Notre Dame's defense held Michigan to six points and at one point in the game, intercepted five consecutive passes.
While he has yet to to record a touchdown on an interception return, we're anticipating that "Pick Six" very soon.
Braxton Miller runs against UAB
So how good is Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller? Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer reportedly told 97.1 The Fan that "Braxton has more talent" than Tim Tebow.
More talented than Meyer's previous Heisman Trophy winner? Well now.
Miller's numbers aren't eye-popping but he does a lot more than just pass the ball. Against UAB, Miller rushed for two touchdowns and ran it up the gut for a two-point conversion. He's a legit dual-threat quarterback who will thrive in the sluggish Big Ten conference.
De'Anthony Thomas in mid-flight against Arizona
He runs. He catches. He returns punts. He's DATMan.
No player — with perhaps the exception of Clemson's Sammy Watkins — strikes more fear in a Special Teams coach than De'Anthony Thomas.
Thomas is a player who is specifically schemed against in every game. The word is out and opposing teams are intentionally kicking away from him on punts yet he's still among the Top 20 punt returners.
He's only caught 13 passes this year, but three of those catches have resulted in touchdowns.
When you're a game-changer, you're a Heisman candidate.
Geno Smith passes against Maryland
2012 stats after three games: 96 of 118, 1,072 yards, 12 touchdowns, zero interceptions and a 191.2 passer rating.
Collin Klein against Oklahoma
There's a reason why Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein is No. 1 on my list over West Virginia's Geno Smith: The Wildcats have beaten Miami (FL) and Oklahoma (at Norman, Oklahoma) while the Mountaineers' biggest test has been Maryland.
Yeah, I know, he's not a sexy pick but I remember fans ripping me for being high on Robert Griffin III in early November last year too. Klein, for whatever reason, is fitting the bill so far.
Maybe it's because he's such a gamer, willing to take the hits and keep coming back for more. He's without doubt the heart of this Wildcat team.
Against Oklahoma, Klein accounted for 228 of the Wildcats' 362 total yardage. Clinging to a 24-19 lead, Klein picked up a crucial first down on a five-yard keeper with 1:59 left in the game and denied the Sooners a final opportunity to rally.