Heisman Race 2012: Making the Case For and Against Each Finalist
History is going to be made on Saturday night at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York City.
Each of the three finalists—Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o—will break new ground when one of them steps up to the podium to accept the Heisman Trophy.
Klein would become the first player from Kansas State to win the award, Manziel the first freshman and Te'o the first strictly defensive player to strike a pose as the Heisman Trophy winner.
With the hour of the award ceremony drawing near, let's take one more look at each of the three candidates and make a case for and against each to take home college football's highest individual honor.
Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
The Case For Klein
Optimus Klein had the Wildcats in the thick of the national championship picture late in the season before K-State faltered, but he led his team to an 11-1 record, the Big 12 Championship and a spot in the Fiesta Bowl.
The senior completed 66.2 percent of his passes for 2,490 yards, throwing 15 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. He added an additional 890 yards and 22 touchdowns on the ground, finishing the season with 3,380 yards from scrimmage and 37 touchdowns.
After suffering what many believe to be a concussion against Oklahoma State on Nov. 3, he didn't miss a start, only furthering the case that his toughness and leadership under center were unmatched by any other QB in the nation.
The Case Against Klein
While his statistics are solid, they aren't phenomenal, and he faced six pass defenses that ranked no better than 104th in the nation, according to cfbstats.com, which makes you think that those numbers should be higher than they are.
He threw three interceptions against Baylor—a defense that ranked 122nd against the pass. He couldn't get going on the ground either, running the ball 17 times for only 39 yards.
Kansas State's 52-24 loss to the Bears ruined their undefeated season and crushed any hopes of competing for the national championship.
Who should win the Heisman Trophy?
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
The Case For Manziel
Johnny Football's stats are like something out of a video game.
He completed 68.3 percent of his passes for 3,419 yards, 24 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. Manziel also ran the ball 184 times for 1,181 yards and 19 touchdowns, finishing the season with 43 touchdowns and 4,600 yards, breaking Cam Newton's SEC record for total yardage.
Of course, there was also the time when he walked into Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa and put the Aggies on his back, leading the way to a 29-24 upset of the then-undefeated and No. 1 team in the land, the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Manziel has four 300-yard passing games and six 100-yard rushing games on his resume this season, accomplishing both feats in the same game three times. Twice he finished games with more than 500 yards of total offense himself.
Did I mention that he is a redshirt freshman and led the Aggies to a 6-2 conference record and a 10-2 mark overall in the school's first season as members of the SEC?
The Case Against Manziel
The Aggies only played against three of the best teams in the SEC—Florida, Alabama and LSU—and they lost two of those games.
He struggled mightily against LSU, completing 51.8 percent of his passes while tossing three interceptions. He picked up a season-low 27 yards rushing, failing to reach the end zone by air or by ground.
He's a freshman, and no freshman has ever won the award. That might not be a strong argument against him, but it's a fact—and it could be a factor in the voting.
Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
The Case For Te'o
Manti Teo's leadership is unquestionable, as is the fact the he's the best player on the No. 1 team in the country.
His statistics are solid: 101 tackles, seven interceptions and four passes defended, but merely looking at the numbers does him a disservice. Te'o had six games with 10 or more tackles, and his seven interceptions puts him in a three-way tie for the second-highest total in the nation.
Teo's impact on the game is in the fact that he raises the level of play of everyone around him, a major reason why Notre Dame ranks first in scoring defense and sixth in total defense.
The Case Against Te'o
Te'o doesn't get after the quarterback, recording only 1.5 sacks on the season, and he plays at Notre Dame, a team that people either love or hate. There's no middle ground when it comes to the Fighting Irish.
He only plays defense, and no player who just plays defense has ever won the award before.
As with Manziel, that isn't exactly a strong reason to not vote for him, but considering that the Heisman traditionally goes to either a quarterback or running back, it's something that could factor into the voting even more for Te'o than for Manziel.
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