Heisman Trophy Watch 2012: Is This Now Johnny Manziel's Award to Lose?

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Heisman Trophy Watch 2012:  Is This Now Johnny Manziel's Award to Lose?
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The Heisman Trophy practically engraved "Geno Smith" into itself after the first few weeks of the season.

Then after Smith fell off the map, Collin Klein rose up and took poll position for quite awhile.

However, with Kansas State's loss to Baylor on Saturday, the trophy may now be freshman Johnny Manziel's to lose.

Both of Oregon's candidates, Kenjon Barner and Marcus Mariota, lost attention after the two players turned in mediocre performances when the Ducks lost to the Cardinal.

Marqise Lee had another banner day for USC, but the Trojans lost their fourth game of the season and could lose their fifth next weekend. It's hard to win the Heisman trophy when you're on a team with four of five losses.

Collin Klein deserves to be in the discussion because one loss shouldn't define a player's entire season. But when you consider that the loss came against Baylor, a team with a terrible defense, it's hard to defend Klein.

Baylor was the same team that gave up a 600-yard passing performance to Geno Smith.

Even with the chaos of this past weekend, several other candidates remain in solid position to take home the trophy.

Manti Te'o of Notre Dame has consistently been the best defensive player in the country all season long. He'll get his chance to make a statement next Saturday when the Irish take on USC, a team with weapons all over the field.

But still, only one defensive player has ever won the Heisman. Te'o may be having an incredible season, but it's hard to imagine him taking home the award for best player in college football.

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After Manziel, another quarterback makes an interesting case.

In comes Braxton Miller, whose Ohio State team is ineligible to play in a bowl game yet remains undefeated.

Miller continues to shine in Urban Meyer's spread offense. While he may not have some of the signature performances or wins of the other candidates, his team hasn't lost.

He's also rushed for over 1,200 yards to go along with 13 touchdowns on the ground. While spread QBs have put up crazy numbers in recent years, Miller's stats deserve a tip of the cap.

But it all comes back to Manziel. He takes home the award for signature performance for his play at Alabama.

What hurts Manziel are the early season losses to Florida and LSU, in which his team started out hot but tailed off in the end. In those games, Manziel was unable to do what he did to the Crimson Tide a week ago.

Heisman Trophy races, however, are often won in the final few weeks. Robert Griffin III wasn't even in the Heisman conversation last season until mid-November.

If it becomes a stats race, Manziel wins in a landslide. He's thrown for 3,000 yards and rushed for over 1,000, and he has 38 total touchdowns.

Some will argue that a freshman shouldn't win the award, but that's bogus and short-sighted. The award should always go to the best all-around player.

Given the season he's turned in and his signature performance on the road against Alabama, the Heisman Trophy is now Johnny Manziel's to lose.

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