Heisman Candidates 2012: Case for and Against Each Finalist

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IDecember 4, 2012

November 24, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Manti Te'o (5) after the 22-13 victory against the Southern California Trojans during the second half at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Well, the 2012 Heisman Trophy finalists have been announced and Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, Notre Dame's Manti Te'o and Kansas State's Collin Klein will be competing for the coveted award on Saturday, Dec. 8.

Each player is deserving to make the final list and each player has had his ups and downs throughout the season.

Who should ultimately win the award?

Well, hopefully the cases for and against each finalist will lead you to your decision.

Note: All stats via CFBStats.com


Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M


Manziel became the fifth player in FBS history to pass for at least 3,000 yards and rush for at least 1,000 yards this season. He became the first freshman and the first SEC player to accomplish the feat.

He also led the Aggies to a 10-2 record and a spot in the Cotton Bowl. His performance in the 29-24 upset of Alabama on Nov. 10 was outstanding. He went 24-of-31 for 253 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 92 yards against the sterling Crimson Tide defense.



While Manziel led the Aggies to 10 wins, they also lost two games against Florida and LSU. He averaged 5.8 yards per pass attempt with no touchdowns against Florida and tossed three interceptions against LSU.

Manziel had a fantastic season, but it wasn't without its speed bumps and both Te'o and Klein led their respective teams to better records and a better BCS ranking.


Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame


Te'o led a defense that allowed 10.3 points per game during the season, tops in the nation.

He also helped the Fighting Irish to a 12-0 record as the No. 1 team in the country gets set to face Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game.

To give you an idea of how important Te'o was for the Irish, he had a team-high 103 tackles while Bennett Jackson and Zeke Motta came in second with 61 tackles.

The senior also notched seven interceptions, tied for second in the nation and first among linebackers.

He led a Notre Dame squad that allowed 3.16 yards per carry (11th in the nation) and two rushing touchdowns (first), but he also displayed an all-around game.



You could make the argument that, while Te'o was outstanding this season, he may have not even been the best defensive player in the country.

South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney, Georgia's Jarvis Jones and Texas A&M's Damontre Moore all had outstanding seasons and they each had more tackles for loss and sacks than Te'o.

Manziel and Klein also may have an edge over Te'o given they excelled at the most important position in football.


Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State


If you're into yards per pass attempt (which is a fairly accurate determinant of a quarterback's value, in my opinion), then Klein may have a case over Manziel.

The senior averaged 9.2 yards per attempt (sixth in the nation), while Manziel averaged 8.5 yards per attempt (tied for 15th in the country).

Also, given Klein was generally regarded as the Heisman favorite even after Manziel's performance against Alabama, you could make the case that one bad performance (against Baylor) shouldn't vault Klein down the rankings.

Klein also had a better quarterback rating than Manziel, although it was a minimal difference.



Manziel played in a tougher conference than Klein and Klein had his off game against a Baylor pass defense that was certainly beatable.

Also, Klein didn't make the same impact on the ground as Manziel did.

More importantly, his touchdown-to-interception ratio (15-to-7) was worse than Manziel's (24-to-8). Yards per pass attempt may be a nice indicator of a quarterback's value, but touchdown-to-interception ratio may be even more indicative. The general theory is that a quarterback should have at least a two-to-one touchdown-to-interception ratio and, while Klein barely passed that threshold, Manziel blasted through it.


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