Johnny Manziel: The Obvious Heisman Choice After Week 12
After college football's mix up of a Saturday in Week 12, Johnny "Football" Manziel becomes the obvious choice for the Heisman Trophy. Not only is he peaking at the perfect time, but his greatest competition is starting to struggle.
Before Week 12 the two front runners were Collin Klein and Kenjon Barner. Not only did both players' teams lose in Week 12, but both players struggled in those losses.
Klein completed just 54 percent of his passes for 286 yards. Which wouldn't be too bad if not for the three interceptions, which Baylor turned into 14 points.
The usually illusive Klein was also sacked twice, while rushing for a season low 39 yards.
As for Barner, he was a non-factor in Oregon's loss to Stanford. Barner had just 66 yards rushing in that game, averaging 3.1 yards per carry (a season low). He didn't have any touchdowns.
This was the second game in a row in which Barner failed to average more than 4.0 yards per carry, or reach the end zone, despite at least 20 carries in each game.
Now we get to Johnny Manziel.
Known to many as Johnny Football, Manziel has been on a tear the last two weeks. Not only has he lead Texas A&M to two huge wins—including the Week 11 win over then No. 1 Alabama—but he's become a scoring machine (seven total TDs in that time).
Somehow, this redshirt freshman has the Aggies at 9-2 in their first season with the SEC. As long as they beat Missouri this weekend, it will be Texas A&M's best finish since going 11-3 in 1998.
So besides winning, what kind of case is Manziel making? Just look at the stats.
3,407 passing yards, 67.7 completion rating and 21 touchdowns to seven interceptions.
Manziel has completed at least 70 percent of his passes six times this season, with at least 20 attempts in each of those games. He's had at least 270 passing yards on five separate occasions.
In comparison, Klein has completed 70 percent of his passes in only five games, with 20 attempts in only four of them. He's only passed for at least 270 yards twice.
And like Klein, Johnny Football is just as dangerous on the ground.
Manziel has 1,114 rushing yards on the season, averaging 6.5 yards per carry with 17 touchdowns.
He has rushed for at least 100 yards six different times this season, with a rushing touchdown in all but two of his games.
Kenjon Barner has also rushed for at least 100 yards in six games, but has failed to score a touchdown in four of Oregon's contests. He has just 19 rushing touchdowns on the season.
If that isn't enough to convince you, Manziel is even making history.
He's just the fifth play in college football to pass for 3,000 yards while rushing for 1,000. He's the first freshman to reach such a feat.
If he won the Heisman, it would be the first time a freshman has ever done so.
Who wins the Heisman Trophy?
Outside of Collin Klein—who could still be a favorite with a strong showing to finish the season—the competitive field is slipping.
Manziel's biggest competition could become Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o.
Despite a fantastic season (98 tackles, six interceptions, 1.5 sacks), a linebacker has never won the award. And the last time a defensive player took home the trophy was Charles Woodson in 1997.
So the cards are certainly stacked in Manziel's favor.
With video game stats, a stellar record and an ability to make history, Johnny Football is doing it all this season as a freshman. It's just a matter of time before he can put "Heisman Winner" on his resume.
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