Heisman Trophy 2012: Breaking Down Each Finalist's Most Memorable Play of Year

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IDecember 8, 2012

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 10:  Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Texas A&M Aggies celebrates after a touchdown during the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 10, 2012 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

Each of the three 2012 Heisman Trophy finalists, Johnny Manziel, Manti Te'o and Collin Klein have had a season to remember. Each has led his team to successful regular-season finishes and has done so while accomplishing incredible individual success along the way.

But we can break down each of their astonishing seasons into one play. A play that defines each of their Heisman campaigns.

Let's take a look at each finalist's most memorable play of 2012.


Johnny Manziel: Oh My Gracious

Johnny Football made countless highlight reel plays in 2012, but it was this incredible touchdown pass against Alabama on November 10 that stands out most.

With the Aggies already leading the Crimson Tide 7-0, Manziel escaped the pocket, losing grasp of the ball in the process, and fired a touchdown pass on the run to Ryan Swope. The 10-yard score was highlighted by CBS announcer Verne Lundquist's incredible call.

Texas A&M would go on to upset then-No. 1-ranked Alabama 29-24 solidifying Manziel as the Heisman Trophy front-runner. 

Most college football fans, including DreamChaser on Twitter, feel that Manziel's performance against Alabama should earn him the award:

My Heisman vote would have to go to Johnny Manziel. What he did to Alabama in Tuscaloosa was amazing.

— DreamChaser ⬆✈ (@Sellf__Made) December 8, 2012


But this play displayed all of Manziel's strengths. From his elusiveness and agility to his poise, strong arm and vision. If Manziel does has a weakness in his game, you wouldn't know by watching this brilliant touchdown pass. 

Surely, if Manziel had a Heisman moment in 2012, it was on this play against the mighty Tide in Tuscaloosa. 


Manti Te'o: Heisman Moment

Manti Te'o was all over the field for Notre Dame in 2012, recording a team-high 103 tackles in 12 games to go along with a remarkable seven interceptions. 

But none of Te'o picks were quite as amazing as this game-changing one he made against Oklahoma in Norman on October 27. With the Sooners driving in search of a game-tying touchdown, Te'o made an extremely athletic play to lay out for a tipped ball, picking off Landry Jones with less than five minutes to play. The Irish would score a field goal on the ensuing drive to put the game away and move to 8-0 on the season.

Te'o's clutch fourth-quarter interception provided the game's only turnover and helped lift Notre Dame to its biggest road win of 2012. 

Te'o may have made big plays in the wake of personal tragedy early on in the year, but just as ABC announcer Brent Musburger pointed out, that may have been Te'o's defining Heisman moment.


Collin Klein: He Does It Again

Collin Klein rushed for 22 touchdowns in 2012, but few were as exciting as this one on the road at TCU on November 10. Klein broke free up the middle and ran 34 yards to the end zone to score his second rushing touchdown of the game.

The score would put the game away, sending Kansas State to 10-0 on the year. The next day they would take over the No. 1 spot in the BCS standings for the first time in school history.

Fox announcer Gus Johnson's hair-raising call certainly helped a bit of drama to Klein's impressive scamper.

Sure, he may not have Johnny Manziel's open-field speed, but he is without question one of the most gifted runners in college football. After all, he has 55 rushing touchdowns since 2010.

Klein wasn't a bad passer in 2012, throwing for 2,490 yards and 15 touchdowns, but his strength is his legs. This play highlights that strength and helps make a case for Klein being college football's most outstanding player this past season.


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