Heisman Watch 2012: Identifying Each Major Candidate's Signature Moment

Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIDecember 2, 2012

Nov 17, 2012; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) celebrates scoring a touchdown against the Sam Houston State Bearkats during the second half at Kyle Field. Texas A&M won 47-28. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE
Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE

Johnny Manziel is the clear favorite to capture the Heisman trophy on Dec. 8. Collin Klein had an abysmal game in Kansas State's loss to Baylor; because the Big 12 doesn't have a conference championship game, Klein has no chance to redeem himself before the voting.

He may receive an invitation to the ceremony, but he won't win the award.

Manziel was there to succeed him as the man to beat, and with Klein's slippage coming so late in the season, Manziel just needed to be solid against Missouri in Texas A&M's regular season finale.

Manziel was that and more against the Tigers.

He accounted for five touchdowns in the game. He threw for three and ran for two as the Aggies won 59-29. Though this game was a great one for Manziel, it was not his Heisman moment.

Look no further than Nov. 10 at No. 2 Alabama for that.


Manziel Shows Bama That He and the Aggies are For Real

Early in the first half, the Aggies were already leading the Crimson Tide by seven points, and they had the ball inside Bama's 10-yard line looking for more.

Manziel pulled off a signature backyard football play and found Ryan Swope in the back of the end zone. You can see the look of shock on the Alabama defenders' faces, and the silence in the stadium is something to behold.

This game made Manziel a national star, and this play is a microcosm of his appeal.


Collin Klein and Wildcats Dominate Geno Smith and Mountaineers

Geno Smith and the Mountaineers were running roughshod over opposing defenses until they faced the Wildcats on Oct. 20. Klein owes an assist to his guys on the other side of the ball, but he more than carried his end of the bargain in this game.

He recorded his only 300-yard passing game of the season, and he ran for four touchdowns. None of them display Optimus Klein's skills like this option-keeper in the second quarter. The play takes place at the 2:08 mark of the video.


Braxton Miller Breaks Ankles on His Way To 55-Yard TD Run vs. Cal

It was only Cal, but this scamper was perhaps the most impressive of a series of dazzling runs Miller had this season. The Buckeyes aren't eligible for the postseason because of infractions prior to this season, but the team finished 12-0.

Much of the credit can go to Miller, who is the only serious threat to Manziel.

Take a look at this phenomenal play, and weep for the ankles of the victimized Golden Bears.


Manti Te'o Leads Charge Against Oklahoma

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish officially punched their ticket for the BCS title game by beating USC in the regular-season finale, but their win over Oklahoma on Oct. 27 was the team's coming-out party.

Te'o had 11 tackles, two for loss, a sack and an interception in the 30-13 win. The most memorable play of this performance was his interception off a deflection. It takes place at the 4:00 minute mark of the video, and it stopped a potential game-tying drive by the Sooners.

Te'o's case to become the second primary defensive player to win the award is hurt because he didn't find the end zone all season. That said—he did have as big of an impact as any defensive player in the nation, and he's the premier player on the nation's No. 1 team.

Take a look at the pick:


Jordan Lynch is a Beast

Lynch had a huge year for Northern Illinois. He leads the nation in total yards with 4,733 and he leads the nation in rushing with 1,771 yards.

Lynch is a quarterback, but he finishes runs like a power-running back. That's probably why he has rushed for 19 touchdowns heading into the Huskies' bowl game.

None of those touchdown runs is more impressive than this Earl Campbell-ish run against Akron on Oct. 20. Lynch was only held under 100 yards once this season, but because of his conference, he's a long shot to win the award.

He's only a junior, so he may have a better shot next season, but he definitely deserves the invite this year.


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