Anticipation is mounting as three young men prepare to travel to New York City in order to learn if they have been chosen as the recipient of college football’s most prestigious honor—the Heisman Trophy.
It’s arguably the most exciting event between the end of the regular collegiate season and the start of the BCS bowl games, and the 2012 edition should be no different.
Continue reading for a look at where you can watch and live stream the 78th annual Heisman Ceremony, find out what time the event starts, get familiar with the finalists, check out our predicted winner and much more.
Where: Best Buy Theater in Times Square, New York City
When: Saturday, December 8
Start Time: 8 p.m. ET
Meet the Finalists
Collin Klein, Quarterback, Kansas State
The Wildcats signal-caller was the front-runner for the Heisman for much of the 2012 campaign, but a mysterious injury in early November—coupled with a poor game upon his return and a blowout loss to Baylor the following week—knocked him down to dark horse status in this race.
K-State’s super senior finished the year by completing 180-of-272 passes for 2,490 yards, 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He was also a machine on the ground, rushing 194 times for 890 yards and 22 TDs.
However, Klein’s fate was always linked to the Little Apple’s success, and when his team faltered late in the season—in addition to his personal numbers not being much more impressive than last year’s—makes us believe his trip to New York is nothing more than an honorary one.
If that is indeed the case, the competition comes down to these next two candidates:
Johnny Manziel, Quarterback, Texas A&M
Johnny Football, as he’s affectionately known around the country, had quite a historical freshman season.
The 19-year-old not only had record-breaking statistics, but also engineered the first upset of the No. 1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide since LSU pulled it off back in November of 2011.
That performance, now in the pantheon of freshman feats, not only vaulted him to the front of the Heisman pack, but gave him enough cushion to comfortably stay afloat with a string of average outings.
Obviously, Manziel isn’t your average QB, and decided to put together a few more incredible showings to finish the year strong and cement his legacy.
The Aggies signal-caller wound up completing 273-of-400 pass attempts for 24 TDs and a scant eight interceptions, with another 1,181 yards and 19 scores on 184 attempts via the ground.
When you remember that this was Texas A&M’s first year playing in the SEC, and Manziel’s first year of college football in general, it’s a no-brainer to learn he’s the favorite to win on Saturday night.
Manti Te’o, Linebacker, Notre Dame
It’s not often that a full-time defensive player is considered for the prestigious Heisman Award. Then again, it’s not often a player like Manti Te’o comes around.
On the back of Te’o, the Fighting Irish achieved a perfect 12-0 record, the No. 1 ranking in the BCS standings and a national championship game appearance.
The senior from Hawaii may not have the most outstanding personal numbers (103 tackles, seven interceptions, four defensed passes, four QB hurries, two fumble recoveries), but he captained one of the best team defenses in the nation.
Notre Dame allowed just 10.3 points per game, the lowest figure of any FBS program in 2012, and the Irish undoubtedly wouldn’t be headed to Miami without Te’o on the team.
Te’o also has a personal story that resonates with voters. Earlier in the season, his girlfriend and grandmother sadly passed away on the same day. He suffered through the tragedy, but didn’t let it impact his play on the field.
It’s quite plausible that many will take Te’o’s individual numbers, team success and hardships into account when making their selection.
Projected Winner: Johnny Manziel, Quarterback, Texas A&M
While all three invitees in New York could make a strong case as to why they deserve the 2012 Heisman, none have earned it more than Johnny Football.
The young man had the most statistical success, played the highest profile of positions and did it in the toughest, most scrutinized conference in college football.
He deserves to become the first freshman in the prestigious 78-year history of the award to win it, and it would be a shock not to hear his name called at the podium when the victor is announced.