Ballots are going out to 926 Heisman voters this week, which means the remaining games will take on significant meaning as a large swath of the electorate starts to really bore in on the candidates.
The voters have three weeks to send in their ballots. The last two seasons, the percentage of ballots returned by week broke down like this:
The deadline to return ballots this year is Dec. 3. With that in mind, here’s how the schedule shapes up the rest of the way:
USC at UCLA (USC’s Marqise Lee)
Sam Houston State at Texas A&M (A&M’s Johnny Manziel)
Kansas State at Baylor (Kansas State’s Collin Klein)
Stanford at Oregon (Oregon’s Kenjon Barner)
Lee and Barner have the best chance to make a splash this Saturday. Both will be playing ranked teams in games that will be closely watched. This is a very important game for Lee’s Heisman hopes as a USC win means he can play in the Pac-12 title game. The SEC’s idea of scheduling FCS teams this late in the season could come back to bite Manziel’s Heisman hopes. He might put up great numbers against Sam Houston State, but no one will be watching. Klein’s game is in prime time against the team that produced last year’s Heisman winner and it gives him a chance to produce some offensive fireworks against a questionable defense.
Oregon at Oregon State (Barner)
Missouri at Texas A&M (Manziel)
Notre Dame at USC (Lee)
Kansas State — bye (Klein)
Another chance for Lee and Barner to build on what they did the previous week, with the spotlight more on Lee as his team tries to spoil Notre Dame’s national title hopes. Manziel gets a decent matchup against Missouri, which gives him his last chance to make his case for the Heisman. Klein has a bye, which is probably just as well considering the magnitude of some of the other games going on.
Texas at Kansas State (Klein)
Pac-12 Championship (Barner and Lee, either or neither)
Klein can probably wrap up the Heisman — and earn his team a trip to the BCS title game — with a good day in a win over the Longhorns. Obviously, all eyes will be on this one, which gives Klein a huge advantage with Heisman voters. Over on the West Coast, the possible matchup of USC vs. Oregon looms, although that is not a done deal since the Trojans must first get by UCLA and Oregon must get by Stanford and Oregon State. If a USC-Oregon matchup doesn’t transpire, then it’s an advantage for Klein. Manziel sits on this last weekend of the season, which means he’ll be out of sight, out of mind.