Heisman Watch 2012: Breaking Down Top Candidates by the Numbers

Tim KeeneyContributor INovember 22, 2012

Numbers never lie.

OK, that might be a little bit of stretch, but if it's a show on ESPN, it has to be the truth, right? Even if ESPN is lying to us, numbers are incredibly important when it comes to the Heisman race.

Sure, other factors like team record, strength of schedule and value to one's team come into play, but more often than not, we get caught up in trying to quantify players' seasons. 

So, with the Heisman watch narrowed down to mostly a consensus top three, according to most (Here and here, for example, but don't count out guys like Marqise Lee or Braxton Miller), of Johnny Manziel, Collin Klein and Manti Te'o, let's take a look at how they stack up against each other in terms of numbers. 


Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M QB

What is there to say about Johnny Football that hasn't already been said? I'll let LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery take this one:

Oh yeah, but we're looking for numbers here. Well, the talented freshman has a few of those, too. 

(Deep breath)

He has completed 67.7 percent of his passes (first in the SEC) for 3,047 yards (second), 8.6 yards per attempt (fifth), 21 touchdowns (third) and just seven interceptions (fifth). His passer rating, according to Sports Reference is 155.1 (fourth).

And he has got a pair of legs, too.

Manziel is first in the SEC in rushing yards (yes, we're talking about a quarterback here) with 1,114 yards. He's averaging 6.5 yards per carry (third) and has scored 17 touchdowns (first in SEC, eighth in the nation).

Some old-school voters might not go with Manziel strictly because he's a freshman—which would be insane—but there's no question he has the numbers to back up the "HeisManziel" campaign.  


Collin Klein, Kansas State QB

Everyone seems to be downgrading Klein because his team finally suffered a (embarrassing) loss, but what if that loss came early in the season? Would Klein be seen in a different light?

For whatever reason, I think he would be. And I think that's odd. But I digress. The senior has some gaudy numbers.

He's not as much of a passer as Manziel: He has completed 66.7 percent of his throws (fourth in Big 12) for 2,306 yards (sixth), 8.9 yards per attempt (third) and 14 touchdowns (sixth) to just six interceptions (eighth).

His passer rating, which exemplifies just how close he and Manziel really are, is 155.0 (sixth, and just 0.1 below the freshman). 

On the ground is where Klein seriously excels. 

He has rushed the ball 171 times for 787 yards (fourth) and 20 touchdowns (first in Big 12, second in the nation).

Klein may be losing ground, but if he manages to add to those totals with a monster performance against Texas Saturday, he'll quickly re-establish himself as a legitimate contender. 


Manti Te'o, Notre Dame LB

There's so much to Te'o's job as a linebacker. As Notre Dame's most important defensive piece. As the unquestioned leader of the team.

It's truly hard to quantify, and that may be what hurts him during Heisman voting, but let's try to put some numbers on Te'o's ridiculous senior campaign. 

Te'o has recorded 98 total tackles this season, which is second among all independent players. He hasn't been used in blitzes as much this year, so his tackles for loss (5.5) and sack (1.5) numbers are down from last season.

But that has proven to be a smart move, as Te'o has somehow found a way to deflect 10 passes (second) and pick off six.

Yes, six interceptions. For a linebacker.

That's good enough for a tie for second in the entire nation, as he sits a full two ahead of the next linebacker on that list. 

Te'o's stats aren't necessarily jaw-dropping, but they prove his unique versatility and absurd talent.

Combine that with his leadership in the middle of the No. 1-ranked defense (in terms of points allowed per game) in the land, which has carried Notre Dame to an undefeated record and potential national title appearance, and you've got yourself a linebacker with a solid shot at winning the Heisman.