Heisman Trophy 2012: Comparing the Finalists' Resumes

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Heisman Trophy 2012: Comparing the Finalists' Resumes

Who has the better Heisman Trophy resume: Notre Dame's Manti Te'o, Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M or Collin Klein of Kansas State?

It's such a simple question to ask, but to answer, not so much.

First, we have Te'o, who is strictly a defensive player and senior for a BCS national title competitor. Second, we are offered a redshirt freshman quarterback in Manziel, who dazzled Nick Saban's Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa.

And finally Klein, who is the face of the Big 12 champions in Kansas State.

Each has an impressive resume and is certainly worthy of being atop the Heisman list. To that end, let's break down Te'o vs. Manziel vs. Klein and end this debate.

 

Manti Te'o: LB, Notre Dame

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Te'o had a knack for creating turnovers in 2012.

With a defensive player, we obviously have to get a little deeper than numbers. The appealing aspect about Te'o, however, is his stats at first glance.

Having recorded 103 tackles, seven picks and two recovered fumbles, Te'o is unsurprisingly all over the field. Consider his freshman through junior seasons, and Te'o had defended just six passes combined.

So, throughout the 2012 season the linebacker has displayed complete production in every facet. His coverage awareness significantly improved, and it's a key reason why the Irish rank No. 21 against the pass and allow only 10.3 points per contest.

Entering the year we knew Te'o was going to remain a stud against the run. After all, he had logged 133 tackles as a sophomore and 128 as a junior—not to mention 23 of those were tackles for loss in that span.

As a senior, getting more than 100 tackles once again displays his consistent dominance. As a result, Notre Dame ranks No. 4 in rush defense and was able to win the close games.

Also, being on a perfect team with a shot to win the national title is a slight advantage.

Notre Dame would not be perfect without Te'o, because his leadership, playmaking ability and constant impact are a rarity in college football.


Johnny Manziel: QB, Texas A&M

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Manziel gives the Heisman pose in a run vs. Alabama.

It is quite difficult to argue against Johnny Manziel.

The guy's signature moment was upsetting Alabama on the road, and it's hard to ask much more from a quarterback in the SEC. Nevertheless, Manziel has gone above and beyond expectations this season.

For one, accounting for 4,600 total yards and 43 touchdowns is just absurd. Especially looking at Texas A&M's schedule and Manziel being a redshirt freshman, that kind of immediate impact goes beyond fathomable thought.

Even better, Manziel finished with a 68.3 completion percentage and threw only eight interceptions. Thing is, three of those came against the LSU, and he didn't turn the ball over against the Florida or Alabama.

Every week the kid was insanely consistent, and his downfield accuracy is much better than he is given credit for. After all, A&M finished No. 14 in passing, No. 13 in rushing and averaged nearly 45 points per game.

To an unexpected extent, 2012 was also the Aggies' first season in the SEC. Coming from the Big 12 and including the SEC's overall dominance, Texas A&M thrived with an inexperienced quarterback in college football's toughest conference.

That impact alone is what makes Manziel such a deserving candidate of the Heisman Trophy.

 

Collin Klein: QB, Kansas State

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

It's easy to think that Collin Klein should win the Heisman Trophy.

He's a senior quarterback on a BCS team that won its conference. Lest we also forget that he was the front-runner at one point. At the same token, Klein put up some impressive numbers with 3,380 total yards and scoring 37 total touchdowns.

He also finished with a 66.2 completion percentage and a mere seven interceptions.

Unfortunately, Klein's candidacy takes a hit because of Manziel outperforming him and the Wildcats getting bulldozed by the Baylor Bears.

Still, he is definitely the key impact player of Bill Snyder's team. And the Wildcats would not have won the Big 12 or be in position to win a BCS game without him.

Klein's dual-threat capabilities make him rather appealing along with Kansas State being a great story. Winning the Heisman, though, is a long shot after failing to remain perfect against a weak schedule.

 

Who Has the Better Resume?

Before that answer is revealed, we must take into account the strength of schedule and each player's value to their respective teams.

Interestingly enough, these are nearly equal across the board.

Although Notre Dame doesn't play in the SEC, every opponent of the Irish comes from the FBS level.

And of the 12 games, 10 are BCS schools and nine of the 12 are bowl eligible. Stanford and Oklahoma are the two that stand out, because the Cardinal won the Pac-12 and the Sooners enter bowl season ranked No. 11 in the BCS.

Switching to the Aggies, they played extremely tough games against Florida, LSU, Alabama, Mississippi State and Louisiana Tech. The rest of A&M's schedule, however, was not overly difficult and included non-FBS teams in South Carolina State and Sam Houston State.

Looking at Kansas State, the Wildcats' best wins are over Oklahoma and Texas. Well, Notre Dame also beat the Sooners and no one else can match the SEC from the Big 12 regarding strength of schedule.

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Losing to Baylor also really hurts Klein, because at least A&M has "good" losses, so to speak, from Florida and LSU.

All that said, since Texas A&M has two losses, the main question becomes: Would Notre Dame be perfect without Te'o?

No.

If the Irish had fallen one time, this award easily goes to Manziel. Nevertheless, the minute difference is Te'o leading his team every single week to victory and a shot to knock off the SEC and defending BCS champs.

 

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