Heisman Watch 2012: Previewing the Top Contenders' Matchups
Geno Smith had quite the Heisman moment against Baylor, but there's still a whole lot of football to be played.
Who knows what kind of Heisman moments we may see before 2012 is done?
So, let's take a look at the top seven Heisman candidates thus far and who they're facing. Some matchups are conducive to big plays and big numbers. Others are going to have to work hard against tough competition.
So, who are the top players in the nation matched up against as they try to strike their own Heisman pose? Read on.
Manti Te'o vs. Miami Offense
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Manti Te'o has always played at a high level, but he's playing inspired football after his girlfriend died from leukemia. He had eight tackles and two interceptions against Michigan.
He'll have his hands full against Stephen Morris, Duke Johnson and the Miami Hurricanes.
Aaron Murray vs. South Carolina Defense
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
Aaron Murray is about to face the No. 6 scoring defense in the nation, and he's going to have to do it without his favorite target, Michael Bennett. Bennett has torn his ACL and will be out for the rest of the season.
Murray must hope that his offensive line holds up against the likes of Jadeveon Clowney. Otherwise, it might be a long day for him and the Bulldogs.
Braxton Miller vs. Nebraska Defense
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Braxton Miller has already faced Ohio State's stiffest defense of the year against Michigan State. Although Miller turned the ball over three times, his 136 yards rushing and one passing touchdown were instrumental in getting past the Spartans.
Now, Nebraska isn't as good as Michigan State at defense, but it's no patsy either. Miller should be able to get it done against the Huskers' Blackshirt defense; however, I wouldn't expect him to set any records while doing so.
De'Anthony Thomas vs. Washington Defense
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Washington has one of the better defenses that "DAT" and Oregon have faced thus far. The Huskies are holding teams to an average of 19.8 points per game.
But this team also gave up 41 points to LSU, and the Ducks have a much more solid offense than the Tigers.
I expect De'Anthony Thomas to have a solid night rushing and passing. However, DAT's biggest competition may come from from fellow RB Kenjon Barner, as Barner did a lot of the heavy lifting last week.
Collin Klein vs. Kansas Defense
Brett Deering/Getty Images
Last season, Collin Klein led Kansas State to a 59-21 victory over in-state rival Kansas. Klein scored five touchdowns: one through the air and four on the ground.
Given how much Kansas has struggled has struggled this year, it wouldn't be surprising for Klein to have an even better night against the hapless Jayhawks.
E.J. Manuel vs. N.C. State Secondary
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
E.J. Manuel probably won't admit it, but he has to be super excited at the prospect of taking on N.C. State.
The fact that the Wolfpack gave up 566 yards passing to Miami's Stephen Morris has everything to do with it.
There's no question in my mind that Manuel will put up big numbers against N.C. State. The question is whether N.C. State can make this enough of a game for Manuel to stay in for its entirety.
Geno Smith vs. Texas Secondary
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
The Texas secondary must be in awe after watching what Geno Smith did to Baylor last week.
I don't expect Smith to put up the same kind of numbers this week against the Longhorns for three reasons:
1. Even the greatest quarterbacks of all time can't put up 656 yards and eight touchdowns passing every week. Those numbers are just insane.
2. Baylor has one of the worst defenses in the nation. Texas is bound to do better than the Bears at defending the pass.
3. If this turns into a shootout (and I think it will...), I'm not sure that the Longhorns have the firepower to run with Smith should he get red hot. Nick Florence and Baylor did, which is why Smith remained on the field for the entire game and racked up the yards and points.
Still, I think that Smith should still easily top 350 yards passing and four touchdowns.