Now that the 2012 Heisman Trophy finalists have been announced, we can start dissecting what is going to happen when the best players college football has to offer converge on New York City this weekend.
Over the course of the season, there were at least four different favorites to win the award—though all of that changed as teams started losing, players started slipping, etc. All of that has led us to this moment, with a crowded field of candidates each with a legitimate case to be made for the award.
Here are our current odds for each finalist to capture the 2012 Heisman Trophy on Saturday night.
Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel
Odds: Even Money
It comes as no surprise that Manziel is the favorite for the award. As soon as he led Texas A&M to a victory in Alabama on Nov. 10, Johnny Manziel gave way to Johnny Heisman. He racked up 345 yards of total offense with two touchdowns in that game.
All in all, Manziel finished the season with 4,610 yards and 43 touchdowns (24 passing, 19 rushing). Even though the Aggies were shut out of a BCS bowl because there is so much depth in the SEC—and the rules prevent more than two teams from a conference in the BCS—they finished 10-2 and in the Top 10 in the AP, USA Today and BCS polls.
Team success matters to voters almost as much as individual success, and Manziel certainly elevated the Aggies' performance this season.
Voters might have some ridiculous superstitions about voting for a freshman to win the award, but the total package that Manziel brings to the table is too great for them not to give him the Heisman.
Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o
In a fair and just world, Te'o would end up getting more first-place votes than it appears that he will. It is so hard for voters to quantify the value that defense-only players add, which is why you rarely see them invited to New York for the ceremony.
Te'o was the leader of the best defense in the nation, though that is hardly justification for including him on the ballot.
Instead, focus on what Te'o actually did. He was involved in virtually every big play the defense made, recording 103 total tackles and seven interceptions. For a linebacker to have that many interceptions is remarkable and speaks to Te'o's versatility to move all over the field.
If ever there was a year for a straight-defensive player to win the award, it would be this year. But Manziel's performance will leave Te'o settling for the No. 2 spot on most ballots.
Kansas State QB Collin Klein
There was a time, not that long ago, when Klein was the "It" player in college football. He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, Kansas State was the No. 1 team in the country, and no one could stop them.
All of that changed one weekend in November against Oklahoma State. Klein was injured in that game and never really looked the same. In the three games after, Klein went 47-for-85 with 615 yards, three touchdowns and five interceptions. He ran for 192 yards and five touchdowns.
Those are respectable numbers but hardly worthy of a Heisman Trophy winner. Considering that the voters put more stock into what happened in the final month of the season, Klein is really at a disadvantage.
But don't undersell the fact that Klein had 37 total touchdowns and 3,380 yards from scrimmage for a team that won the Big 12 championship and will play in the Fiesta Bowl.