Heisman Finalists 2012: Breaking Down Each Player's Top Moments

Randy ChambersAnalyst IDecember 4, 2012

Heisman Finalists 2012: Breaking Down Each Player's Top Moments

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    After a quick regular season of college football, the Heisman Trophy finalists have been announced. The list is short and simple, and certainly doesn't include any surprises. We have Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o.

    One of those three players is going to walk away with the most prestigious award in college football and have his life change forever.

    It is more than overall team success that has gotten each player here; it also takes game-changing plays and highlight material that your ordinary player isn't capable of pulling off.

    With the 2012 Heisman recipient set to be announced this Saturday, let's look at some of the top moments from each of these wonderful college football players.

Johnny Manziel vs. Alabama

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    Texas A&M entered Bryant-Denny Stadium as considerable underdogs against the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide.

    And then it happened.

    The pocket began to collapse around quarterback Johnny Manziel. He began to scramble, the ball nearly popped loose and he was still able to complete a touchdown pass. To have the presence of mind to regain focus, keep his eyes downfield and still make the play is remarkable. After all, this is a freshman quarterback going up against the top defense in college football.

    Once this play took place, you just knew it wasn’t Alabama’s day.

    Manziel didn't blink and was able to create one of the best plays of the 2012 college football season.

Manti Te'o Pick vs. Oklahoma

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    Notre Dame was in a tight one against Oklahoma late in the fourth quarter. This was one of the many games critics weren't giving the Irish a shot at winning, as the No. 8 Sooners were listed as double-digit favorites in this one. Up only one touchdown, Notre Dame needed a big play to put the game away and keep that undefeated record intact.

    Who else would come up with a big play other than linebacker Manti Te'o?

    Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones dropped back to pass, the ball popped loose from Jalen Saunders, and Te'o was there to save the day. This play is something you would usually see only in a movie. You immediately think it is going to be an incomplete pass, but at the last moment, the senior linebacker comes into your living room by diving and making a play.

    The interception gave the Irish a chance to add on a field goal, which put the game away.

    To be able to keep the ball from hitting the ground shows Te'o's ball skills and incredible athleticism.

Collin Klein Destroys West Virginia

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    There was a time this season when West Virginia's Geno Smith was the Heisman front-runner.

    All of that changed once Collin Klein and Kansas State went into Morgantown and beat the Mountaineers at their own game.

    There really wasn’t just one play that stood out when it came to the Wildcats' 55-14 victory, but Klein was simply a one-man wrecking crew throughout the game. K-State ended up scoring seven touchdowns in this beatdown, and their senior quarterback was responsible for every single one of them.

    Klein completed 90 percent of his passes for 323 yards and three touchdowns. Although he was held to just 41 yards on the ground, he also managed to rush for an extra four touchdowns.

    This was the game that really put Collin Klein on the map and knocked out Smith from any realistic chance of snatching up the award.

Manti Te'o Goal-Line Stand

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    Stanford was one of the teams that played the Irish extremely well.

    Taking Notre Dame into overtime, it appeared that the Cardinal were going to tie the game up and send the contest into double overtime.

    Having four shots to reach the end zone from inside the 5-yard line, Stanford tried to pound the ball up the middle four consecutive times. The team must not have known who was playing middle linebacker for the opposition. Manti Te'o was a huge part in stopping Stepfan Taylor, as he continued to get in the middle of the pile and drive the senior running back backward.

    Particularly on 3rd-and-goal, you can see No. 5 being the main player that gets his hands dirty in preventing a game-tying touchdown. This game did end on a controversial call, but it was another victory for the Irish, which is all that matters right about now.

    Te'o finished the game with 11 tackles, with none bigger than the last one.

Manziel Takes It the Distance

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    Louisiana Tech wasn't the toughest opponent of the 2012 schedule for the Aggies, but it was a ranked (No. 23) and undefeated team at the time. That was, until Johnny Manziel got a hold of them.

    He finished the game with six total touchdowns, but none were as big as the one that came late in the fourth quarter with about two minutes left.

    Mazniel faked one way and cut back to the right. Once he made one tackler miss, the freshman QB really turned on the afterburners and it was all over. He made everybody look like they were running in slow motion, as he took it 72 yards for a touchdown.

    With the Bulldogs keeping things close throughout, this play would end up being the game-winner for the 22nd-ranked A&M.

Klein Calls His Own Number

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    Collin Klein injured himself against Oklahoma State, and many were wondering if he would even be able to play against TCU.

    Boy, did he play, and ended up having his longest run of the season.

    On a play in the third quarter, the Kansas State signal-caller looked downfield and saw that his blocks were being set up perfectly. That is when he decided to take off and show that guys 6'5" and 226 pounds have wheels as well. He was able to kick it to the outside and dive for a touchdown.

    The 34-yard score put the Wildcats up 20-0—pretty much an insurmountable lead for TCU against the explosive Kansas State attack.

    What makes this highlight that much sweeter is that Gus Johnson happens to be doing the play-by-play.