Any Heisman Trophy shot for Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M just ended.
The freshman signal-caller completed only 50.9 percent of his throws and was intercepted three times (no touchdown passes or runs) against the LSU Tigers on Saturday. It was, by a wide margin, his worst performance of the year as he also totaled just 27 rushing yards on 17 carries.
Texas A&M lost, 24-19, in College Station and dropped to 5-2 on the year.
Prior to kickoff against the Bayou Bengals, Manziel was certainly an appealing Heisman contender. With 14 touchdowns to only three picks through the Aggies' first six games, Manziel scored 10 additional times on the ground with 676 rushing yards.
After the LSU game Manziel's averages have taken a nosedive; however, being a freshman there's definite reason to believe he'll be a Heisman candidate in 2013 and/or 2014.
Who wins the 2012 Heisman Trophy?
That said, 2012 has now become a tougher road to that honor and here's why.
A&M's Wins Vs. Losses
Although the Aggies are 5-2, the wins have come against SMU, South Carolina State, Arkansas, Ole Miss and Louisiana Tech. These schools combine for a record of just 17-17 heading into this weekend and the best record comes from the Bulldogs at 5-1—who almost upset Texas A&M last week.
Flip to the losses and the Aggies previously lost to the Florida Gators at home in early September before losing to LSU this week.
That's two schools currently ranked inside the Top 10, and when we look at Heisman winners from recent history each have a few key wins over elite opponents. Robert Griffin III of Baylor upset TCU and Oklahoma last season, whereas Cam Newton brought home a national title for the Auburn Tigers.
On the bright side, Manziel has two more opportunities to really make a statement in 2012.
Once November rolls around, Texas A&M plays at Mississippi State and Alabama in consecutive weeks. Those games will be even more telling since that's two top SEC teams in subsequent games. Florida and LSU were spread out by more than a month.
Other Heisman Candidates
Geno Smith is the obvious lead candidate and although West Virginia hasn't played two elite schools like Texas A&M, the Mountaineers don't have a defense to rely on either. The Aggies play much better defense than West Virginia and Smith's 25 touchdowns to zero interceptions entering this week is nearly impossible to beat for any individual.
Moving on and we see Kansas State's Collin Klein who, despite not having the numbers, is a significant dual-threat and has a key win over the Oklahoma Sooners (in Norman, OK.) to his resume. Not to mention both these candidates square off this week, which only adds to the schedule's toughness.
Include Oregon's Kenjon Barner, who has accumulated 860 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on top of the Duck's national title implications, and Manziel's latest performance only adds more damage:
Let us not forget about other Heisman hopefuls such as USC's Matt Barkley and Notre Dame's Manti Te'o, either.
Freshman Odds Always Slim-to-None
For starters, no freshman has ever won the Heisman Trophy and only Adrian Peterson of the Oklahoma Sooners has ever finished in second place of the voting.
So from the opening kickoff of the 2012 season, Manziel's odds were extremely slim, and when you factor in the schedule with other Heisman candidates, the odds become even greater to overcome.
We must also take into account the small number of sophomores that have won the Heisman: Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford and Mark Ingram.
Therefore, unless a player is a junior or senior the chances of winning college football's most coveted award are slim.
Still, Manziel is among the best around and he's only going to get better. It would be shocking if he weren't on the Heisman short-list over the next two or three seasons.
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