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8 Players Who Control Their Heisman Destiny

Carl StineCorrespondent INovember 1, 2012

8 Players Who Control Their Heisman Destiny

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    With football season entering the home stretch, the Heisman race is still wide open, though the field has been narrowed quite a bit.

    There are still plenty of different players with the potential to win the award, but not all of them have the capability to make a run at the award without some help.

    Hence, we see Matt Barkley on this list, but not the dynamic Marqise Lee.

    The eight players found here have the stats, highlights and big-time matchups left to give them a leg up in the race, and with great performances the rest of the way, any one of them could take home the award.

8. Matt Barkley, QB, USC

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    Stats: 2,266 passing yards, 25 touchdowns

    With two losses, it appears as if Matt Barkley's Heisman dreams may be just that—empty dreams.

    But consider the games Barkley has left.

    The Trojans face the No. 4 team in the country, Oregon, in their next contest, giving Barkley a chance at bolstering his hopes if the Trojans can win the game and he can put up some big numbers.

    On top of that, if USC wins out, the Trojans still win the Pac-12 South, still face either Oregon or Oregon State in the conference title game and still have a shot at the Rose Bowl.

    Barkley has to get his interception numbers down; he already has eight this season after throwing only seven all of last year.

    His greatest advantage is the talent the Trojans field.

    Two excellent tight ends, two top-flight running backs and two receivers that absolutely dominate all give Barkley weapons that will enable him to put up huge numbers.

7. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

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    Stats: 2,216 yards passing, 793 yards rushing, 29 total touchdowns

    He's a freshman, and no freshman has ever won the Heisman.

    But this guy can ball and ball hard.

    Johnny Manziel has received tons of hype this season and sometimes fallen short, but we need to remember that he is in his first season.

    And he still has a legitimate shot at winning the Heisman.

    It seems far-fetched, but the Aggies still have plenty of games against ranked opponents in which he can state his case.

    If the Aggies beat the likes of Mississippi State and Alabama, and Manziel shows some of his jaw-dropping playmaking skills in those wins, who is to say he can't jump into the top tier of the Heisman race?

6. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

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    Stats: 2,414 yards, 26 touchdowns, rushing touchdown

    Geno Smith's hype has faded away in the face of two tough losses in the Big 12 conference.

    But his numbers are still extremely good.

    He's only thrown two interceptions and sits near the top of the list of most passing touchdowns and yardage this season.

    While national title hopes, and maybe even Big 12 title hopes, have faded into the rear-view mirror, there is no question that Smith could force his way into the Heisman contest as a finalist with some big games.

    But he would have to resume torching defenses for multiple scores and huge amounts of yardage if he has any shot.

5. Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon

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    Stats: 974 yards rushing, 14 touchdowns, receiving touchdown

    Kenjon Barner's chance to shine is this weekend.

    Thus far this season, he has given up tons of carries, leaving games early when they get out of hand or letting De'Anthony Thomas get his carries.

    Still, he is going to go over 1,000 yards against USC with only 26 yards.

    It seems as if folks in the Midwest and along the East Coast can't stomach the thought that a player other than Matt Barkley from the Pac-12 could be the best player in the country.

    If you want proof, watch Barner this weekend against USC and see the type of numbers he puts up in a full game of football.

    The man is fast, explosive and able to make guys miss with startling regularity.

    With a couple big plays, such as this 80-yarder, he will find himself near the top of the race.

4. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama

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    Stats: 1,684 yards, 18 touchdowns, no interceptions

    Look, McCarron has done some great things this season, and the way the Heisman has developed into a popularity contest among BCS conference players that are on teams with a winning record, he has a very realistic shot of being considered.

    McCarron has yet to throw an interception and is leading a 'Bama team that is putting up over 40 points per game.

    It's just an excuse to say that he plays on a team with a fierce, very effective rushing attack.

    That does have some bearing on the offense's success, but New Mexico averages more yards rushing the ball than 'Bama, and we aren't talking about the Lobos because their quarterback is awful.

    Simply put, McCarron doesn't blow us away, but if the Tide keep winning and he maintains this level of efficiency, a Heisman Trophy could be decorating his shelf come December.

3. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame

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    Stats: 80 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, five interceptions, two fumble recoveries

    If Manti Te'o can sustain his current level of play, he deserves the award.

    Notre Dame's defense has been great so far this season, shutting down some pretty explosive offenses and absolutely manhandling anything that gets in the way.

    Te'o leads that defense, calls the plays, makes adjustments and then finds time to average 10 tackles per game while compiling a pretty impressive stat line.

    The Heisman has not been given to a defensive player in over a decade.

    That's far too long if the award is to be given to the best player in the nation.

2. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State

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    Stats: 1,527 passing yards, 1,093 yards rushing, 24 total touchdowns

    Michigan fans have to be already wondering how their defense is going to contain this guy in the teams' grudge match at the end of the season.

    Miller has delivered more jaw-dropping, ankle-breaking, clutch plays than anyone in the nation this season and deserves more Heisman love than he has been getting.

    Just compare his numbers to those of the supposed front-runner, Collin Klein.

    Klein has thrown for 1,630 yards in one less game, has only 634 yards rushing and just four more touchdowns against defenses that are not nearly as stingy as some of the ones Miller has faced this season.

    Those numbers compare pretty favorably, with Miller still facing some big-name opponents before season's end.

1. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State

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    Stats: 1,630 passing yards, 634 rushing yards, 28 total touchdowns

    Kansas State fans are getting carried away with this whole Collin Klein madness, and it appears to be tons of fun.

    Klein is at the top of just about every current Heisman watch list.

    He deserves to be.

    Kansas State is undefeated, Klein has been absolutely unstoppable and he has greatly improved his accuracy from last season, as evidenced by only two interceptions in 2012.

    He wins, and with his bruising rushing style and manner of dissecting defenses, Klein appears to be in the driver's seat, with the Heisman his to lose.

    On top of that, he has the best nickname to come down the pike in a long time: Optimus Klein.

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