2012 Heisman Trophy: Power Ranking the Top Candidates After Week 11

Martin SondermannAnalyst IINovember 10, 2012

2012 Heisman Trophy: Power Ranking the Top Candidates After Week 11

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    In many college football seasons, the winner of the Heisman Trophy is somewhat easy to predict. Usually, one player pushes his way to the front of the line, and by the time the hardware is handed out, the results are a foregone conclusion.

    Collin Klein has been the runaway leader of late, but there is still football to be played and a few players are making a late move.

    As the old saying goes, "It's not how you start, it's how you finish."

    Along the Heisman highway there have been many who taken wrong turns, early exits and made unscheduled and unforeseen pit stops. For those who remain, it is a race that just might come down to the final game.

    Let's look at the leading contenders and see who might have the gas left in the tank to finish the race.

No. 9: Teddy Bridgewater

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    Class: Sophomore

    Team: Louisville

    Position: Quarterback

    Ranking: 9

    Stock: Down

     

    Going into Saturday, Teddy Bridgewater was a long shot for the Heisman. After Louisville's game against Syracuse, the long shot got even longer. The Cardinals were beaten soundly by the Orange, 45-26, handing Louisville its first loss of the season.

    It's not that Bridgewater had a bad game. He threw 49 times, completing 36 for 424 yards and three touchdowns, and was intercepted only once. He also had five carries for 17 yards.

    For the season, he has 2,858 yards passing, 21 touchdowns and just five interceptions. His completion rate is better than 70 percent and his quarterback rating is more than 165. On paper, he is one of the most impressive candidates around.

    So why does he get overlooked? Insert your theory here.

No. 8: Tajh Boyd

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    Class: Junior

    Team: Clemson

    Position: Quarterback

    Ranking: 8

    Stock: Unchanged

     

    Tajh Boyd lit it up once again this week. This time it was at Maryland's expense. Boyd threw 26 times, completing 18 for 261 yards and three touchdowns.

    For the season, he has 2,941 passing yards, 28 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He is a big reason the Tigers are 9-1, 6-1 in the ACC. Their only loss was to Florida State, 49-37.

    Clemson fans have to wonder: If the Tigers had beaten the Seminoles, would their quarterback be getting more Heisman love?

No. 7: Braxton Miller

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    Class: Sophomore

    Team: Ohio State

    Position: Quarterback

    Ranking: 7

    Stock: Up

     

    He enjoyed a bye this week, but with the decline of a few candidates who were active, Braxton Miller's stock is up. Ohio State is still undefeated, and while it won't be going bowling, Miller is still eligible to win the Heisman.

    His performance in any other season would probably get more attention. However, with things the way they are, it is unfortunate that he gets lost in the mix.

    Miller has 1,753 passing yards, 14 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also has rushed for 1,166 yards and 13 touchdowns.

No. 6: A.J. McCarron

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    Class: Junior

    Team: Alabama

    Position: Quarterback

    Ranking: 6

    Stock: Down

     

    A.J. McCarron hadn't thrown an interception all season until Saturday when Texas A&M handed Alabama its first loss. McCarron went 21-of-34 for 309 yards and a touchdown, but he also threw two costly interceptions.

    His quarterback rating going into the game was 173.5. However, his rating for the loss Saturday was just 136.

    To say this game hurt his Heisman stock would be an understatement. While it didn't knock him out of the picture, he might be hanging on to the frame.

No. 5: Marqise Lee

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    Class: Sophomore

    Team: USC

    Position: Wide Receiver

    Ranking: 5

    Stock: Up

     

    Coming into the game against Arizona State, Marqise Lee had caught 88 passes for 1,286 yards and 12 touchdowns. He had also carried the ball four times for 44 yards. Well, he added a bit to his total on Saturday.

    Against the Sun Devils, Lee caught 10 passes for an incredible 161 yards and a touchdown. He also added six carries for 66 yards. In total, the sophomore wideout had 227 of the Trojans' 447 yards of total offense.

    Unfortunately, three big losses by USC have helped to keep Lee well down the Heisman list.

No. 4: Manti Te'o

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    Class: Senior

    Team: Notre Dame

    Position: Linebacker

    Ranking: 4

    Stock: Unchanged

     

    Manti Te'o is the exception to the rule. Defensive players rarely win the Heisman, but Te'o is more than worthy.

    Coming into Saturday, the senior linebacker had 87 tackles, five interceptions and a fumble recovery. He is a considerable force on the Notre Dame defense and one of the reasons the Irish are still undefeated.

    Te'o is a favorite Heisman candidate for many fans, not only for his exceptional production on the field, but for his equally tragic and inspiring story off it. Te'o recently lost his girlfriend to leukemia and his grandmother passed away shortly thereafter. He has risen to the challenge of keeping it all together and being an example on and off the field.

    Against Boston College Saturday, Te'o did it again. He had five tackles and an interception. It wasn't his best game, but it was still good enough to maintain his Heisman ranking.

No. 3: Kenjon Barner

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    Class: Senior

    Team: Oregon

    Position: Running back

    Ranking: 3

    Stock: Down slightly

     

    With 1,295 rushing yards on 179 carries, it is safe to say Kenjon Barner has made some Heisman noise. Add to that 19 rushing touchdowns and 184 receiving yards and you have a pretty strong argument for the Heisman Trophy.

    This week, Barner continued his Heisman campaign against Cal, a game Oregon ran away with 59-17. However, Kenjon was hindered by an injury to his hand early on. He would return to the game, but his performance was a bit less than what fans are used to. 

    Barner carried the ball 20 times for 65 yards, but had no touchdowns. He also caught three passes for 35 yards. 

    Considering what he had to overcome, Barner's stock is probably down only slightly. With games against Stanford and Oregon State remaining, he will have more opportunities to make his case.   


No. 2: Johnny Manziel

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    Class: Freshman

    Team: Texas A&M

    Position: Quarterback

    Ranking: 2

    Stock: Way Up

     

    A.J. McCarron's loss was Johnny Football's gain. In the upset of the season, Manziel-led Texas A&M did the unthinkable, beating the Alabama Crimson Tide on their home field.

    The 29-24 upset not only caused shock waves across the college football landscape, but it launched "Johnny Football" into "Johnny Heisman" orbit. The win was otherworldly for Manziel and A&M, and the freshman quarterback had the statistics to match.

    Manziel completed 24 of 31 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns. He added another 92 yards rushing on 18 carries, and his legend grows.

    Could a freshman win the Heisman in 2012? Well, only if it's Johnny Manziel.

No. 1: Collin Klein

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    Class: Senior

    Team: Kansas State

    Position: Quarterback

    Ranking: 1

    Stock: Down slightly

     

    Collin Klein had a fine performance against TCU, completing 12 of 21 passes for 145 yards and an interception. However, it was what he did with his feet that saved his day.

    He rushed 15 times for 50 yards and two touchdowns. He did enough to keep the No. 1 spot, but Johnny Manziel is nipping at his heels. Klein will travel to Baylor and then face Texas in Manhattan, Kansas, to complete his Heisman case.

    Can he do enough to hold off Johnny Football, Kenjon Barner and Manti Te'o? No matter what happens, it will be fun to watch.