We started out with 10 Heisman candidates, but now we're down to seven. These seven players have done enough over the last nine weeks to earn a quarterfinalist standing on my leaderboard.
Over the next five weeks, I will whittle the list down to five semifinalists and then to the final three.
This week we had some major movement, which was due to some brilliant performances that validated why a few players should move up in the standings.
Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller rushed for 134 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday to give the Buckeyes a 35-23 victory over Penn State.
His running ability is exceptional, but his passing ability is still a question mark. In his last two games, his accuracy has fallen to 45 percent or lower which is why he isn't higher on my list.
Still, I love his play and his field-general-type attitude.
The West Virginia Mountaineers were on a bye last week, which is why quarterback Geno Smith has dropped a little in the standings.
Is that fair?
Yes, because I compare the entire body of work by a player and then adjust the rankings, if warranted, every week.
Smith's last two games were not Heisman-worthy and this week he didn't play, so that's three weeks of analysis to illicit a drop.
Oregon running back Kenjon Barner has continued to impress. In the Ducks' 70-14 rout of Colorado, Barner rushed for 104 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries and also had a 48-yard catch.
Kenjon Barner hasn't had a lot of attention heaped on him, and that may be due to the Ducks playing in low-profile games thus far.
This Saturday the Ducks play the USC Trojans, and this is the perfect opportunity for America to catch a glimpse of this very underrated dual threat.
Statistics from Marqise Lee's performance against Arizona last Saturday:
(Note: These stats are for one game only.)
Sixteen receptions, 345 yards and two touchdowns
Three kickoff returns for 123 yards
One rushing attempt for one yard
Total yards: 469
Against Mississippi State, Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron had another very productive day. McCarron went 16-of-23 for 208 yards and two touchdowns.
McCarron has an 18-0 touchdown-interception ratio, which is simply amazing, and because of his superb body of work, he has made it into my top three Heisman candidates.
Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o doesn't necessarily have to have two or three sacks a game to be on this list. His presence on every play is what makes him so special.
In Notre Dame's game at Oklahoma, Te'o absolutely pancaked Sooners quarterback Landry Jones on a 3rd-and-6 early in the second quarter.
Te'o also sealed the Sooners' fate when he went flying to the turf to intercept a Landry Jones pass that caromed off of receiver Jalen Saunders.
Te'o was all over the field, sealing the outside edge and making some spectacular tackles.
Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein continues to hold the top spot on my Heisman leaderboard. Against Texas Tech last Saturday, Klein put up another great performance, going 19-of-26 for 233 yards and two touchdowns. Klein also rushed for 83 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries.
On one particular play (see video), Klein was standing in the pocket when it started to collapse. Texas Tech linebacker Dartwan Bush came in from behind Klein and slammed his hand on top of the football—but Klein managed to keep his grip on the ball with one hand.
It's plays like this—where Klein's sheer will to win keeps him from turning the ball over—that make him my Heisman front-runner.