The college football season is at the halfway point. Like it or not, your favorite team has about seven more games this season and then the calendar page turns to 2013.
What have we learned from the first seven weeks of college football?
First, we now know who won’t win the Heisman. Matt Barkley, Montee Ball, Denard Robinson and Landry Jones all lost their bids early in the season due to lackluster performances or their teams inability to win big games. There were a few flashes in the pan, Jonathan Franklin and Le’Veon Bell namely, that came and went, lasting only as long as their teams could stay undefeated. For the likes of Aaron Murray, Knile Davis, Tajh Boyd and even EJ Manuel their somewhat slim to begin with chances never fully materialized.
With those 10 out of the way, the race narrows considerably. We know who cannot win, but we are still left with three (plus a few dark horse) viable candidates for the award.
The front runner still remains Geno Smith even after his disappointing loss to Texas Tech this past Saturday. Smith maintains his comfortable lead because he didn’t do anything to lose the game for the Mountaineers in their farthest trip west of the season. In my opinion he didn’t do much to help win the game either but that will be forgotten when the ballots are cast in December.
Smith can suffer another loss (possibly two) if his numbers return to form for the rest of the season. The West Virginia defense, which looks like sieve right now has become Smith’s scapegoat allowing Smith to play for stats and not necessarily wins.
Also note that the better Geno Smith plays, the better chance his team has to win. That means if Smith goes back to throwing more touchdowns than interceptions the wins won’t be far behind.
Trailing Smith is Collin Klein (or Optimus Klein as the Kansas State faithful call him) the gritty reboot of Tim Tebow. Klein has done everything right this year yet has been overshadowed by Smith who competes in the same conference. Klein’s numbers may not be the most impressive compared to Smith’s but he has a cinderella story brewing in Manhattan. This week he travels to Morgantown to take on the Heisman headliner in a match up of top 15 teams. A win by Klein would send Smith to his second straight loss and solidify the Klein fairytale.
Klein entered Kansas State as a wide receiver in 2009 (after red shirting in 2008). In 2010 he was converted to quarterback but used only sparingly. In the first start of his career he rushed for 127 yards and two touchdowns in a win against Texas. In 2011 Klein passed for 1,918 yards and 13 touchdowns while running for 1,141 yards and 27 touchdowns tying the FBS record for rushing touchdowns in a season by a quarterback.
This season Klein has led his team to an upset win at Oklahoma and a top five BCS ranking. An undefeated season in Manhattan led by Optimus Klein could be just the storyline needed to edge out Smith at the end of the season.
Braxton Miller from Ohio State brings up the rear of the top three most likely candidates to go to New York City. Miller has had an impressive first half of the season leading his team to 7-0 and the no. 8 ranking in the AP. Miller has already matched his scoring output from a season ago and has found ways to pull wins out of thin air. We’ve said this before on Heismanpundit, the Buckeyes would not be undefeated without Miller behind center.
Miller is on pace to score 36 total touchdowns but the second half of his schedule is arguably easier then the first half. If Miller’s total touchdown count rises over 45 and his team can stay undefeated Miller will surely be a finalist for the trophy. His chances are slim but in the long term Miller will use the 2012 season as the stepping stone to the 2013 Heisman when he will be the undoubted pre-season favorite.
That leaves Manti T’eo from Notre Dame and De’Anthony Thomas of Oregon to round out the top five. Johnny Manziel from Texas A&M is having a freshman season to remember and might be rewarded with a trip to New York if he can knock off an SEC powerhouse or if he keeps resetting the SEC record for passing yards in a game.
Seven weeks to go in the race for the most prestigious individual award in sports. Who ya got?
–Alabama allowed its first field goal of the season against Missouri. Shockingly the Tide remain the consensus no. 1 team.
–Louisiana Tech scored more points (57) in its loss to to Texas A&M than it was averaging in its five previous wins (53.8).
–The state of Ohio has three of the 12 undefeated FBS teams in the country.
–Just for fun imagine Notre Dame, Kansas State, Oregon and Alabama all go undefeated. Who goes to the national championship game? Can you omit a 12-0 Irish team from the natty?
–Northwestern is still the most fun team to watch this season and its jerseys are the best new jersey of the year.