The book hasn’t been closed on the Heisman Trophy race, not if Collin Klein has anything to say about it. Week 14 of the college football season features several possible Heisman finalists in action while the majority will sit back and await the award ceremony, which will take place on December 8.
Those guys have one last chance to leave a lasting impression before voters make their selections.
A great performance in a conference championship game or one with huge implications might be enough to put someone like Klein back in the race.
These remaining performances are labeled as “statement” games for those hopefuls trying to state their final cases for the nation’s best individual award.
Take a look at some of these contenders’ matchups and outlook for Week 14.
Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
Matchup: No. 6 Kansas State vs. No. 18 Texas
Klein had the Heisman locked up, or so many people thought a matter of weeks ago. The mobile senior quarterback was untouchable, leading his team to a No. 1 ranking in the BCS standings.
Then, disaster struck on Nov. 17. The unranked Baylor Bears knocked off the Wildcats in Waco, Texas. Klein melted down while attempting to keep up with the quick-strike ability of the Bears. He threw three interceptions and couldn’t get anything going on the ground to help his team’s comeback bid.
While a player shouldn’t be judged for one game, he certainly lost some support in that loss. That brings us to Week 14.
Klein’s Wildcats are averaging 40.5 points per game and that's come from averaging an impressive 200-plus yards per game on the ground.
Texas hasn’t exactly been stout on defense this season (28 PPG), especially against the run. The Longhorns have been giving up 200 yards per game on the ground.
This game has all the makings of a breakout, career-defining finish for Klein.
Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford
Matchup: No. 18 Stanford vs. No. 16 UCLA, Pac-12 Championship Game
Taylor may be on the outside, looking to find a way to increase his chances of winning the Heisman Trophy. Still, there’s something to be said for the continued success of the Cardinal’s offense after the departure of Andrew Luck.
Stanford’s work-horse back has stepped up and put his team on his shoulders, leading it to the Pac-12 Championship Game and possibly to a BCS bowl berth.
This week he’ll get a chance to repeat his performance from Week 13. The powerful back totaled over 140 yards on the ground and scored two touchdowns in the season finale win over the UCLA Bruins.
A repeat of that performance or an even better display could turn some heads Taylor’s way as voters begin to narrow down their choices.
Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Matchup: West Virginia vs. Kansas
Austin is easily one of the most explosive players in college football. He’s put up more than 1,100 yards as a receiver and over 500 as a runner since taking on that role in Week 12 against Oklahoma. That’s mostly due to a 344-yard explosion on the ground against the Sooners in that game.
You’ve seen the highlights, you know the stats. But what does Austin need to do in order to increase his chances in New York? Beating up on the 1-10 Kansas Jayhawks may not be enough, but the future NFL speedster can go out swinging.
The Jayhawks are one of the worst defensive teams in the nation. They’re allowing an incredible 34 points per game. Most of that’s been due to an inability to stop both the pass and run. Opposing teams are putting up nearly 190 yards per game on the ground and 270-plus through the air.
Austin is going to have a field day in this one.