There won’t be a change at the top of the Heisman watch lists after this weekend. Geno Smith and Braxton Miller will have no problem putting up impressive numbers against Maryland and UAB respectively.
Even with Smith and Miller more then likely keeping their top spots, the middle of the list will become a lot clearer after separation Saturday (part one).
Middle-of-the-pack players EJ Manuel, Jonathan Franklin, and Denard Robinson all have tests that will make or break their Heisman campaigns. Manuel has yet to put up Heisman-worthy numbers but he has been bolstered by his efficiency with the ball and given the benefit of the doubt because he hasn’t seen much of the third or fourth quarters this season. With a top 10 Clemson team coming to Tallahassee on Saturday, you can be sure that Manuel will be under the microscope. A loss or a poor performance from Manuel and his Heisman dream…might become just that.
Franklin is just starting to get real recognition for being the the nation’s leader in rushing and all purpose yards. He’s knocked off a nationally ranked Nebraska team and had back to back 200 yard rushing games. All that means nothing if he gets chewed up by Oregon State the way it neutralized former Heisman hopeful Montee Ball. It could also solidify Franklin’s Heisman hopes if he can make the Oregon State defense look like Rice or Houston.
Robinson has already had a major test this year, which most would agree he failed (in Heisman terms). If Alabama was a week one test, then this game is Robinson’s mid-term (and Shoelace knows the subject). In two career games against Notre Dame, Robinson has 954 total yards and seven touchdowns. Robinson will need a performance that looks more like the 2010 game (258 rush yards 244 pass yards, 3 total touchdowns) to get back on the voters’ radar. Another loss or three interception game (which he had in 2011) and Robinson will fall too far to recover.
Further down the list Collin Klein and Landry Jones face each other in a marquee match up. A decisive victory for either could give them some sorely needed national recognition.
Games to Watch
Clemson at Florida State
No brainer, game of the week. Quick, name the last big game Florida State has won… take your time. The Seminoles beat a 12th-ranked BYU team in 2009, but the last time they beat a top 10 team was in 2007 against 10th ranked Boston College. Since then they are 5-13 versus ranked teams (wins over 12, 15, 22, 23 & 25). None of the players on this team have ever won a big game, so this is an important opportunity for these guys. Can EJ Manuel get it done or will Tajh Boyd spoil FSU’s return to glory?
Michigan at Notre Dame
Before the season everyone said that Notre Dame’s schedule was too tough to be successful. It still has USC, Oklahoma and Stanford left but a win against Michigan means it will probably only need to win one of its three tough games to sneak into a BCS bowl. Then we’ll never hear the end of it.
Kansas State at Oklahoma
The Belldozer (Blake Bell) vs. the Kleinbacker (a nickname I’m trying out for Collin Klein) [HP: I prefer K(lein)-State]. Vegas needs to have a line for which quarterback has more two yard (or less) touchdown runs in this game (I’m guessing it’s Klein -1/2 -115). Don’t bet against Bob Stoops at home versus ranked teams. Plain and simple he has never lost to a ranked opponent at home (and he’s only lost three games at home total).
Arizona at Oregon
Oregon’s first game against a BCS conference team (apparently Savannah State wasn’t available this week).
HP v HP Jr. picks coming up this afternoon.