The Heisman Trophy finalists have been announced and Notre Dame middle linebacker Manti Te’o will be headed to New York.
Sports Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel reported the two other student-athletes who will be Te’o’s competition for college football’s most prestigious award.
Heisman finalists announced: Collin Klein, Johnny Manziel, Manti Te'o.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) December 3, 2012
Te’o has undoubtedly had an incredible season, but Klein and Manziel have also had exceptional campaigns.
Here is Te’o’s place in the Heisman race broken down and analyzed.
Why He Will Win
Te’o has been the unquestioned leader of the best team in the country. He finished the regular season with 103 tackles, seven interceptions and 11 passes defended.
The Fighting Irish’s offense was inconsistent this season and is ranked 76th in points scored. But the defense could not have been better this year and has allowed the fewest points of any team in the nation.
Defense is the reason Notre Dame is the nation’s No. 1 team, and Te’o was the centerpiece of the dominant unit. His leadership qualities were clear when he recorded 12 tackles against Michigan State just days after losing both his grandmother and his girlfriend.
He has been exceptional in every one of the Irish’s big games this season, and his play is the single biggest reason why Notre Dame is playing for a national championship. This is a powerful argument to win the Heisman Trophy.
Why He Won’t Win
The biggest factor working against Te’o is history. The only player to win the award while contributing primarily on defense was Charles Woodson in 1997, but Woodson was also a star on special teams.
Quarterbacks have dominated the award recently, winning 10 of the previous 12 trophies. The trend certainly favors Klein and Manziel.
In addition, both signal-callers have been fantastic this season. Klein had Kansas State at No. 1 in the rankings before being upset by Baylor, compiling 2,490 passing yards, 890 rushing yards and accounted for 37 touchdowns this season.
Manziel’s numbers are even more impressive at 3,419 passing yards, 1,181 rushing yards and 43 total touchdowns. Even though Te’o has been nothing short of spectacular this season, he faces stiff competition and history is not on his side.
The voters will break a historical trade with this year’s Heisman selection, but will not go against their propensity to pick against defensive players.
Manziel’s numbers are incredible and cannot be ignored. He will become the first freshman every to win the Heisman Trophy.
The Texas A&M star completed 68.3 percent of his passes and threw just eight interceptions. He also gained 6.4 yards per carry this season, proving that he was efficient in addition to posting ridiculous yardage and touchdown totals.
Manziel also has a signature win over then No. 1 Alabama, and his only losses this season came to Florida and LSU. He has been the best player in the nation this year, and deserves to be recognized as the next Heisman Trophy winner.
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