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Players on the Hot Seat in Week 12

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistNovember 16, 2012

Players on the Hot Seat in Week 12

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    With two remaining weeks of regular season games before conference championships, the intensity of each matchup is heightened.

    No matter the opponent—FCS schools in some instances—the games cannot be taken lightly.

    This weekend's contests provide multiple chances for top-ranked teams to clinch their respective divisions or conferences.

    Players like Marcus Mariota and Johnny Manziel have not suffered off-games recently, but still face important games.

    Here are seven players on the hot seat in Week 12.

Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson

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    Tajh Boyd made the news this week concerning his upcoming decision of whether or not to declare for the 2013 NFL Draft. Head coach Dabo Swinney was quick to refocus attention on this Saturday's game, according Kerry Capps of orangeandwhite.com.

    On the line is the ACC Atlantic Division, where a win for the Tigers must be accompanied by a Florida State loss to Maryland.

    A popular coaching mantra, "control what you can control," comes to mind.

    Boyd has to defeat the North Carolina State Wolfpack to clinch at least a share of the Atlantic Division.

    He can't worry about what the Seminoles do, Boyd must focus on the Wolfpack.

Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

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    Johnny Manziel captivated the college football audience with a thrilling upset over then top-ranked Alabama.

    While a trip to the SEC Championship Game is highly unlikely for the freshman, Manziel cannot suffer a letdown after such a huge victory.

    ESPN's Heisman Watch showed the Texas A&M QB making a massive leap in contention for the coveted trophy.

    Sam Houston State of the FCS comes to Kyle Field in an intriguing matchup of 8-2 teams.

    While Manziel should help dispatch the Bearkats, the high-powered offense on the Sam Houston sideline may cause the sensational freshman to continually light up the scoreboard.

EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State

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    Similar to Boyd, EJ Manuel must lead his team to a victory to make it to the ACCCG.

    Unlike Clemson's QB, Manuel can get there simply with a win.

    After an offseason full of hype for the Seminoles, a loss to NC State damaged Florida State's title aspirations.

    Manuel leads the team to College Park, Maryland to take on the Terrapins in hopes of the next best thing for an ACC team—a trip to the Orange Bowl.

    The 10th-ranked Seminoles are heavy favorites, but the game is on Manuel's shoulders.

Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

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    Though he doesn't get the same hype as Johnny Manziel, Marcus Mariota has been just as effective as A&M's quarterback.

    In fact, Mariota is two wins more effective.

    Mariota is the most efficient passer in the nation, has tossed 29 touchdowns to only five interceptions and has also run for more than 500 yards.

    He leads the 10-0 Oregon Ducks into a matchup with the 13th-ranked Stanford Cardinal with a chance to clinch a berth in the PAC-12 Championship Game.

    Also on the line is the Ducks' hopes of a national title. This game—since it is the first—will set the tone of Oregon's brutal three-game, must-win stretch to end the season.

Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State

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    Collin Klein has had a roller coaster season.

    Err, in the media that is.

    Kansas State's shot-caller went from Heisman pretender, to quiet contender, to unanimous favorite and now to quiet favorite. You can thank Johnny Football for the last part.

    The 10-0 Wildcats head to Waco, Texas to take on a stingy Baylor Bears squad.

    In three games against ranked teams—West Virginia, Texas and Oklahoma—Baylor has lost by a combined 21 points.

    Klein, like Oregon's Mariota, must lead his top-ranked team to victory to remain in contention for a National Championship berth.

    Oh, a win wouldn't hurt his Heisman Trophy chances, either.

AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama

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    AJ McCarron had his interception-less streak end against Texas A&M in the first quarter.

    Even worse, Alabama's undefeated record now has a blemish.

    His contention for the Heisman Trophy is no more, but Bama's National Championship hopes are not completely destroyed.

    The Crimson Tide need a lot of help from higher-ranked teams to make it there, but like Tajh Boyd and Clemson, McCarron must do his own job.

    Alabama's QB has to bounce back this week, and a matchup with Western Carolina should do the trick.

Matt Barkley, QB, USC

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    Matt Barkley has undergone an unexpected tumultuous season.

    USC was the favorite to win the national title, and Barkley highlighted the group of players in early-season contention for the Heisman Trophy.

    Three losses later, the Trojans face a must-win against the UCLA Bruins if they want to square off against the PAC-12 North Division winner on November 30.

    Barkley has nearly matched his career-worst for interceptions in a season, and the 8-2 Bruins have taken away 13 passes this season.

    The South Division title is up for grabs, and so is Barkley's fading legacy.

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