The Heisman race is off and running with a bevy of candidates turning in weekly performances that either make their stock rise or fall.
Heading into the season, Matt Barkley all but had the trophy sewn up. However a loss at Stanford that was riddled with interceptions and bereft of any touchdown passes lowered his stock. In fact, he might not even be the best candidate on his own team. Taking a look at various lists after week four, Barkley doesn’t even appear on many of them. Marqise Lee does, however.
On the other side of the country, West Virginia’s Geno Smith continues to turn in impressive stats in a conference that doesn’t get much love.
In the Midwest, a Buckeye makes a compelling case for his inclusion in the Heisman discussion.
The ACC and SEC have a pair each who currently grab most of the stiff-armed discussion.
Let’s take a look at the conferences likely to produce the 2012 Heisman Winner from least likely to most likely.
The Big East clocks in as the conference least likely to produce the 2012 Heisman winner with a lone player in the discussions to date.
Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater is 91-for-124 on the season with 1049 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions. Heading into last Saturday’s game at FIU, he was completing 81.8 percent of his passes, however last weekend dropped his average a bit. He had just two TDs and also racked up the only two interceptions he’s had this season.
Louisville is currently 4-0 and faces Southern Mississippi on the road this weekend.
The Big Ten candidates are falling by the wayside with just Ohio State QB Braxton Miller garnering any buzz heading into week five. The true sophomore ranks high in the FBS in both rushing and in total offense—no big surprise in an Urban Meyer offense. He is 60-for-98 for 754 yards on the season with seven TDs and two interceptions.
Michigan’s Denard Robinson remains on the radar, though out of the top five at the moment. Wisconsin’s Montee Ball’s production is way down from this point last year, making him an unlikely contender at this point.
The SEC has a pair of QBs currently leading the Heisman discussion for their conference. Georgia QB Aaron Murray is garnering the bulk of the discussion, especially after shredding Vanderbilt’s secondary last weekend for 250 yards and two touchdowns. He is 69-for-104 with 1092 yards, 10 TDs and two interceptions.
However, as the season progresses and Alabama rolls through their fairly easy schedule, ‘Bama QB AJ McCarron should overtake Murray. McCarron is incredibly efficient, even though his stats aren’t as impressive as other candidates. He is 51-for-81 for 819 yards with 10 TDs and zero interceptions.
The ACC’s Heisman hopes rest on Florida State QB EJ Manuel, and frankly, it is too soon to tell whether FSU will fall apart or not, which is the only reason they are ranked in the middle of the pack. Manuel has gone 69-for-94 on the season with 905 yards, eight touchdowns and one interception.
Also keep an eye on Clemson QB Tajh Boyd, who even though he was on the losing side of the FSU-Clemson matchup, finished with 237 yards passing, three TDs and one very poorly timed interception on the day. He is 83-for-122 on the season, with 984 yards, nine TDs and two interceptions.
The Pac-12 is a free-for-all at the moment. While there are many contenders, few are having consistent high production games week after week after week. Of course, USC’s Matt Barkley started the season as the odds on favorite to win the Heisman, but lackluster performances against Stanford and Cal have damaged his stock. Barkley is 88-for-143 for 1,005 yards with 12 touchdowns and five (ouch) interceptions. He has thrown two interceptions in back-to-back games.
That leaves the door wide open for Oregon WR De’Anthony Thomas, who has had 25 carries for 276 yards and four TDs so far this season. He has eight punt returns for 131 yards. Thomas was missing the crucial touchdown factor last weekend against Arizona, which hurts him.
Surprisingly, UCLA RB Jonathan Franklin has been getting some Heisman buzz. He’s got 78 carries for 586 yards with three touchdowns and nine catches for 132 yards and one touchdown.
USC WR Marqise Lee has entered the discussion with 40 catches for 457 yards and six TDs on the season.
Odds are the Heisman winner will be from the Big 12. West Virginia Geno Smith tops nearly every current list with 1,072 yards on the season, 90-for-118 with 12 TDs and zero interceptions. He is remarkably efficient, shredding the opposing secondary week in and week out and adding to his Heisman resume.
Kansas State QB Collin Klein is getting some buzz after beating Oklahoma. He is 68-for-107 for 722 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions. Impressive, but I am not sure anyone can overtake Smith at this point.