At this point in the season, two athletes have pulled away from the pack in the race for the 2012 Heisman Trophy. The happiest man in New York City on December 8 will either be Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel or Kansas State’s Collin Klein.
Both quarterbacks have had fantastic seasons and their performances have allowed them to drastically exceed expectations.
The Wildcats were ranked No. 22 in the AP Top 25 preseason poll, and the Aggies did not make the list. Now, Klein has led his team to No. 1 in the nation, while Manziel and Texas A&M are No. 8 in the BCS standings.
These two quarterbacks have both had historic years. Here are the arguments, broken down and analyzed, for each player as this year’s Heisman winner.
Klein has been the frontrunner to win the award for several weeks now, and the Wildcats’ rise to the top of the BCS standings certainly helps his case.
His statistics have been fantastic this season. Prior to Week 12, he had completed 69.7 percent of his passes for 2,020 yards, 12 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He also ran for 748 yards on 154 attempts (4.9 yards per carry average) and has scored 19 touchdowns on the ground.
But the senior’s performances this year have been about more than stats. The Wildcats’ road to an undefeated record has not been easy, and they had to beat four ranked teams on the way.
If Klein needed to lead an incredible offensive output in order to win a game, he was able to pull that off. But when the matchup called for a conservative gameplan that focused more on controlling the clock and avoiding mistakes, then Klein played that role to perfection as well.
Whether it was scoring seven touchdowns against West Virginia, or simply playing mistake-free football against Oklahoma, Klein has done what was necessary to lead his team to victory each and every week this year.
Manziel has emerged from the field of Heisman candidates to become Klein’s only true challenger.
Any college football fan that was not paying attention to Texas A&M’s remarkable freshman quarterback was certainly captivated by his performance against then No. 1 Alabama. He completed 24-of-31 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 92 yards on 18 attempts, and ultimately leading the Aggies to a 29-24 victory.
Heading into this week, Manziel had passed for 2,780 yards while completing 67.6 percent of his attempts. He has thrown for 18 touchdowns and six interceptions, while also rushing for 1,014 yards on 156 carries (6.5 yards per attempt) in addition to 15 touchdowns.
Manziel’s statistics are incredibly similar to Klein’s. The KSU signal-caller has Manziel beat in completion percentage, rushing touchdowns and has thrown fewer interceptions, while the Aggies' star has thrown for more scores and yards in addition to gaining more yards on the ground.
In addition, Manziel’s performance against Alabama was more impressive than any single game Klein had. Ultimately, it was the best individual outing from a player this season, and that will be considered when the Heisman voters make their decision.
Who Will Win
While Manziel’s game against Alabama put him in the conversation along with Klein for possible Heisman Trophy winners this season, it will also ultimately keep him from winning it.
Both quarterbacks have remarkable statistics and both have led their teams to heights they were not expected to reach this season. When comparing their respective seasons, it is difficult to choose which one is better.
But when two players are neck-and-neck for the Heisman, and one has led his team to an undefeated season and the No. 1 spot in the nation, the award must go to him.
Unfortunately for Manziel, beating Alabama put Klein and KSU atop the BCS standings.
The Wildcats’ status as the country’s best team will be the decisive factor in the Heisman voting this year, and Klein will win the award.