The Heisman Trophy presentation is right around the corner, even if it's only October in the college football world. Awards are often won and lost in this portion of the season, and Ohio State QB Braxton Miller almost assured himself a spot in the audience on Saturday against Penn State.
Of course, Miller is not the favorite for the award.
Collin Klein is running away with the Heisman right now. Of course, that's what we said about Geno Smith and look how he and West Virginia now sit in the minds of national voters.
That being said, Ohio State's Miller is very much alive in the minds of voters. His performance hasn't blown anyone away, but his team is undefeated without any real big-name threats besides the QB position.
If there was any question as to what kind of player Miller is and what he means to this Buckeye program, look no further than the second half against Penn State on Saturday. He took over a game that was deadlocked in the first half and finished with 100-plus yards in the air and on the ground, including two total touchdowns.
If he is awarded the trophy in January, his "Heisman moment" might be the one-yard touchdown run against the Nittany Lions. Faking the handoff, he jumped backwards to avoid a defender, then catapulted himself above the defense and into the end zone.
Additionally, the 72-yard touchdown pass he threw to Jake Stoneburner was a thing of beauty, putting his 7-of-19 night through the air somewhat on the backburner for the time being.
Miller has plenty of work to do. However, the road to becoming the seventh man (Archie Griffin won twice) to win the Heisman is somewhat easier than many may think.
According to Indy Star writer Bob Kravitz, who has a Heisman vote said his ballot featured Miller as the third candidate in the mix.
For the record, my USA Today Heisman vote was 1) Klein 2) T'eo 3) Braxton Miller.— BobKravitz (@bkravitz) October 28, 2012
The two men in front of him on Kravitz' ballot, Klein and Manti Te'o, both have several challenges left that will cloud their Heisman candidacy, but it sure looks good for the Kansas State QB and Notre Dame LB.
Klein has four games remaining against Big 12 opponents. Of those games, he'll get Texas, Oklahoma State, Baylor and TCU.
Those are all teams that have been ranked at certain points this year. Oklahoma State has had injury troubles, but RB Joseph Randle is one of the best in the nation. Baylor, Texas and TCU have all stumbled in recent weeks, but all have offenses capable of scoring very quickly.
Klein has the clear shot to the trophy, and if he and the Wildcats continue to win, it would appear that he would win the award.
Te'o, the standout linebacker who will likely be a top-10 selection in the 2013 NFL draft after his performance this season, has helped Notre Dame's defense reach elite status. His story is compelling, albeit sad, but voters will recognize the intangibles in his Heisman candidacy.
For Miller to win the award, he's going to need help.
In fact, both Kansas State and Notre Dame will have to stumble. You could argue that Oregon must stumble as well, since they have two young men in Kenyon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas who are both in the mix.
I wouldn't put down much money on Miller to win the award the way the situation sits right now. He is very much alive, though, and has had a brilliant season in the air and on the ground. Rushing for over 1,000 yards and passing for 1,500, so far. Those are numbers very few achieve in a season, much less nine games.
Miller could potentially eclipse 3,500 total yards, making him an attractive candidate in New York City. He'll need plenty of help, but it's hard to count out an Urban Meyer QB these days in college football.
Ethan Grant is a Bleacher Report Featured Columnist and member of the Breaking News Team.
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