In a Big 12 showdown of surefire Heisman contenders, Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein will emerge as the front-runner for college football's most prestigious individual accolade.
It's hard to argue with the pedigree of Klein's counterpart, West Virginia's Geno Smith, who has 25 touchdowns and zero interceptions in 2012. What is easier to argue is that Smith is surrounded by two of the best receivers in college football in Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey.
Who will post better numbers on Saturday night?
But it will be Klein's team that emerges victorious on the road thanks to a horrendous Mountaineers defense.
Morgantown will be rambunctious, hoping to spark WVU to salvage its season following their shocking 49-14 loss on the road at Texas Tech last week. Red Raiders QB Seth Doege threw for nearly 500 yards and six touchdowns, which sounds like more of a walk-through than an actual football game. That has caused the Mountaineers' yardage yielded to balloon, and puts them as the second-worst pass defense in the entire nation.
It will be difficult for Klein to overcome the hostile environment on the road, but he was able to do it last week at Iowa State with efficient passing and a great 100-plus yard game on the ground.
After Klein ran for his third touchdown against the Cyclones, ESPN analyst David Pollack summed up well how dangerous Klein is with a great nickname:
Collin Klein is a full grown man. 3rd rushing TD of the day on a crutical 3rd & 9. No one can stop OptimusKlein.— David Pollack(@davidpollack47) October 13, 2012
Kansas State is a much more balanced team across the board than the Mountaineers. It is also an easy secondary for Klein to throw on to say the least.
That will be made all the more easier assuming even the Wildcats have even a typical day running the football.
Junior John Hubert and Klein lead the rushing attack, and it produces over 248 yards per game. Klein has accounted for 510 yards and 10 touchdowns on the year at an impressive 5.2 yards per carry, considering rushing yardage counts sack totals as rushing attempts.
Unfortunately, a head injury to Ohio States QB Braxton Miller has put his Heisman candidacy in jeopardy, perceptibly making it a two-horse race between Klein and Smith.
Since the Wildcats are known to have a better rush defense than a secondary, Smith may very well put up decent numbers even though it's the toughest opponent he's faced all season. He may even keep his interception streak alive.
At this point in the season, though, winning matters too. After tonight, it won't be a question of who leads the way in the Heisman race. Kansas State will remain in BCS title contention while Smith and Co. will be in the midst of a two-game slide.
Give the keys to Klein, because he's in the driver's seat to take home the hardware in New York City this December.