Ranking College Football's Top 10 Heisman Candidates After Week 10

Danny FlynnSenior Analyst INovember 4, 2012

Ranking College Football's Top 10 Heisman Candidates After Week 10

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    With just four weeks left to go in the college football regular season, the race for the Heisman Trophy is really starting to get interesting. 

    Kansas State QB Collin Klein is still the clear favorite at this point in the season, but he's got many worthy challengers nipping at his heels. 

    Here's a look at how the top 10 Heisman candidates stack up after Week 10. 

Honorable Mention: The 10 Fringe Contenders

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    RB, De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon

    LB, Jarvis Jones, Georgia 

    QB, Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville

    QB, Marcus Mariota, Oregon

    DE, Damontre Moore, Texas A&M

    QB, Matt Barkley, USC

    QB, EJ Manuel, Florida State

    WR, Tavon Austin, West Virginia

    QB, Tajh Boyd, Clemson

    QB, Taylor Martinez, Nebraska


10. RB, Giovani Bernard, North Carolina

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    Giovani Bernard has been one of the most productive players in college football this season. Bernard is currently averaging 214 all-purpose yards per game, and he's scored 15 total touchdowns in just seven games of action. 

    The dangerous and versatile playmaker is a true triple threat who is capable of causing major damage as a rusher, receiver and returner. 

    Bernard is averaging a whopping 7.3 yards per carry this season, and he's put together quite an impressive highlight reel filled with big plays. 

    The fact that the 5'10'', 205-pound sophomore has yet to play a ranked team obviously hurts his Heisman case, but you simply have to appreciate all that he's been able to accomplish in 2012.

9. QB, Geno Smith, West Virginia

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    It wasn't all that long ago that everyone was talking about Geno Smith as the Heisman front-runner. However, now that West Virginia has lost three straight games, it looks like Smith's Heisman hopes are on life support. 

    Yes, the senior signal-caller has put up some huge passing numbers in Dana Holgorsen's Air-Raid offense, throwing for over 2,600 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2012. However, his team's recent struggles have really hurt his Heisman chances. 

    If Smith can rebound and beat Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, it would certainly help give him a much-needed boost. But right now, it seems like it's going to be very tough for him to even get an invitation to New York City unless the Mountaineers really turn things around in their final four games.

8. QB, Aaron Murray, Georgia

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    Georgia rebounded after an 0-2 start last year and went on to win the SEC East, and now the Bulldogs once again seem like they're going to rebound after a terrible blowout loss to South Carolina and repeat as division champions in 2012. 

    QB Aaron Murray deserves much of the credit for the team's turnaround. 

    Murray has thrown for over 2,400 yards and hit 21 touchdown strikes, leading Georgia to an 8-1 record and a Top 10 national ranking. 

    Although a victory over Florida may be the only real notable win on his resume, Murray has still had one of the strongest seasons of any quarterback in college football this year. 

7. WR, Marqise Lee, USC

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    USC certainly hasn't lived up to its preseason expectations this year. However, one Trojan player who definitely has been as good as advertised is wide receiver Marqise Lee. 

    Lee has looked like the best receiver in the country this season. The star sophomore has hauled in 88 passes for 1,286 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2012. 

    Right now, Lee has to be considered the favorite to win the prestigious Biletnikoff Award. 

    Although wide receivers don't usually have a strong chance to win the Heisman Trophy, Lee has definitely proven that he's the type of impact playmaker who deserves consideration. 

    He's arguably the best overall offensive player in college football. 

6. QB, Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

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    Johnny Manziel has been the best freshman player in college football this season, and he continued his breakout campaign with a tremendous showing in a 38-13 win over Mississippi State.

    Manziel completed 30-of-36 passes for 311 yards and ran for 129 yards and two touchdowns. 

    The dangerous dual-threat signal-caller has thrown for over 2,500 yards and 16 touchdowns and ran for over 900 yards and 13 touchdowns while leading the Aggies to a 7-2 record. 

    It will be very interesting to see how Manziel fares against Alabama's defense in Tuscaloosa on Saturday. However, even if he loses to the Tide, he still deserves a ton of recognition and praise for his fantastic freshman season.

5. QB, Braxton Miller, Ohio State

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    Urban Meyer made stars out of his previous quarterback pupils Tim Tebow and Alex Smith, and he's doing the exact same thing at Ohio State with Braxton Miller. 

    This season, Miller has proven to be a perfect fit for Meyer's spread-offensive system; he's totaled 2,919 yards and accounted for 27 touchdowns, leading the Buckeyes to a 10-0 record. 

    Ohio State may not be eligible for postseason play in 2012. However, if Miller leads the team to an undefeated 12-0 record and continues to tear through defenses, he'll certainly deserve an invitation to New York City as a Heisman finalist. 

4. RB, Kenjon Barner, Oregon

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    It was quite impressive to watch Oregon's offensive onslaught in a 62-51 victory over USC. 

    The player who had the most awe-inspiring performance of the night was Ducks RB Kenjon Barner, who rushed for 321 yards and five touchdowns against the Trojans. 

    The senior speedster has now rushed for 1,295 yards and scored 20 total touchdowns this season. 

    Barner had to wait three years in the shadow of LaMichael James. But now that he's finally gotten his shot to be the main man in the Oregon backfield, he's certainly making the most of the opportunity. 

3. LB, Manti Te’o, Notre Dame

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    Some initially questioned Manti Te'o's decision to bypass the chance to be a first-round pick in the 2012 NFL draft in order to return to Notre Dame for his senior season. However, nobody's questioning that choice now. 

    Te'o has been the heart and soul of Notre Dame's dominant defense, and he's been the key to the Irish's 9-0 start. The intimidating middle linebacker has been an absolute monster in 2012, as he's flown around the field and constantly made key stops and game-changing plays. 

    The All-American candidate has overcome personal tragedies, including the deaths of his girlfriend and grandmother, and still been the most impressive defensive player in the country this season. 

    The impact that Te'o has made is comparable to what we saw from former LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu in 2011 and former Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in 2009. Both Mathieu and Suh were invited to New York City for the Heisman ceremony, and Te'o deserves that same honor. 

2. QB, AJ McCarron, Alabama

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    AJ McCarron certainly didn't have his prettiest game of the season against LSU. However, when crunch time rolled around and the pressure was on, McCarron stepped up and led the Alabama offense on a memorable game-winning drive for the winning score. 

    On the final drive, the junior signal-caller completed 4-of-5 passes for 72 yards, including a 28-yard screen pass to T.J. Yeldon that gave Alabama a 21-17 win. 

    McCarron is now 21-1 as a starter, and he's on track to lead the Tide back to their second straight BCS championship game. 

    He may not be the best overall player in college football, but McCarron has been a crucial part of Alabama's success this year, and he's developed into a true leader who thrives in clutch situations. 

1. QB, Collin Klein, Kansas State

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    Collin Klein went down with an injury in the third quarter of a 44-30 win over Oklahoma State on Saturday. But before he was sidelined, he proved once again why he's considered the clear-cut Heisman favorite at this point in the season. 

    Klein completed 16-of-22 passes for 245 yards, adding 64 yards on the ground and a rushing score before leaving the game. 

    The dangerous dual-threat quarterback has now led Kansas State to a 9-0 record, dazzling onlookers with his individual performance. Klein has completed 70 percent of his passes for 1,855 yards and thrown 12 touchdowns, compared to just two interceptions. He's also rushed for 698 yards and 17 scores.

    If Kansas State finishes undefeated and wins the Big 12, it will be almost impossible for any other player to overtake Klein in the Heisman voting.