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Heisman Weekend Wrap Up

Poor Braxton Miller. On a week where there was upheaval in the Heisman race, Miller got knocked out of a game where his team completed an overtime comeback against Purdue. Talk about diminishing value. Is Miller still the best player on the Ohio State football team? Sure, but remember the Buckeyes were losing to the Boilermakers when Miller left with an injury.

Saturday could have been moving day for Miller in the race for the most prestigious individual award in sports; instead Miller moved down. The question now remains, can Miller win the Heisman?

I talked to Elika Sadeghi of Elevenwarriors.com about Miller and she echoed a lot of my thoughts on Ohio State’s quest for an eighth Heisman. A seat at the ceremony for Miller this year would be great, but all BuckEYEs (sorry) are focused on 2013; when Miller will be the prohibitive Heisman favorite with a full year of the newly installed offense under his belt.

As far as that seat at the ceremony is concerned, a strong performance against a resurgent Penn State team could put Miller right back in the drivers seat because no one has a strong claim to the second spot in the race.

The media has been having a Kleingasm all weekend as Collin Klein claimed his spot at the top of the Heisman Watch, but remember where you heard it first, here and here. The reason we have liked Collin Klein for so long here at Heismanpundit is because he’s pure substance. There is very little flash in Klein’s game. It’s not like he is just going to go out and put up 300 yards and seven total touchdowns on national television against a ranked opponent who is led by the current Heisman frontrunner. That’s not his style… Ok, so maybe there is a little bit of flash to go along with all of that substance.

Klein, Bill Snyder and the rest of the Kansas State Wildcats will be favored to win every game for the remainder of the regular season. As best I can tell, the Wildcats have not lost a game they were favored since 2010. Klein’s best statistic going into the Heisman could be 12-0.

Then there is Geno Smith, the much maligned (as of late) quarterback from West Virginia. It’s been a tough couple weeks for Smith, losing badly to Texas Tech and Kansas State. I saw reaction this weekend saying that Smith shouldn’t be a top 10 candidate for the Heisman. That’s preposterous. He’s got the highest completion percentage in the country, thrown for the second most touchdowns, second most yards and has the fourth highest passer rating. The two losses he’s suffered have come against two current top 15 teams. Sure he’s not number one with a bullet anymore but he’s still firmly in the top 5.

To legitimately win the Heisman Smith needs to first beat Oklahoma, a tall task. After that he just needs to do what he’s done for most of the year, throw touchdowns against weaker competition. Playing Kansas the week before the Heisman ceremony certainly won’t hurt either.

Quick hits

–Seth Doege has thrown an FBS leading 28 touchdowns this season in seven games. This is all the more impressive because he has a single touchdown game and a zero touchdown game this season as well.

–In Arizona State’s 43-21 loss to Oregon, the Sun Devil’s only* allowed 48 passing yards. *They did however allow 406 rushing yards.

–Of the top 25 most penalized teams in the FBS, seven are from the Pac 12.

–Air Force has yet to allow a sack.

–Only four full time quarterbacks have yet to throw an interception. Two of the perfect signal callers took over for injured teammates leaving just AJ McCarron and Colby Cameron as the only unblemished full season starters.

–This 

–With Cincinnati’s loss on Saturday the state of Ohio now only has two undefeated FBS teams falling into a tie for first place with Oregon.

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Heisman Weekend Preview

Geno Smith owned the first half of the college football season. From the first whistle against Marshall on September 1 through the final whistle against Texas Tech last weekend, Smith has been the statistical Heisman frontrunner. It’s hard to argue against his numbers, 2,271 yards passing with 25 touchdowns and no interceptions. Last year only 24 quarterbacks in the nation threw for more than 25 touchdowns in the entire season.

This week when Smith faces of against Kansas State the statistics may not matter. There will only be one number that matters at the end of the day on Saturday, the final score. Smith must win this game to stay the Heisman favorite.

Collin Klein knows this, he knows that winning ugly is his thing. He knows that if he can scrape out a win in Morgantown against the frontrunner in the race for the Heisman, he can take his spot. Klein knows that he doesn’t need to throw for 300 yards and three scores, he just needs to score one more point than West Virginia. Klein’s candidacy doesn’t rely on gaudy numbers and flash, it relies on his perceived leadership and his ability to win.

If (and when?) Kansas State wins this game Smith will take a considerable step back. Depending on how he plays he could realistically fall below Braxton Miller (who plays Purdue) for the time being.

Don’t go tearing up your Smith to win the Heisman at 7/1 betting slips just yet. Sure, he’ll fall to second temporarily but just as the Heisman isn’t won in September, it won’t be won on Ocotober 20, 2012.

Smith will have multiple opportunities to redeem himself in the five remaining games of the season, against Oklahoma most notably. We’ve said all season that Smith could lose a game or three if his numbers stayed phenomenal and we still believe that, but there will be a recourse for losing back to back games.

Games to watch

Kansas State at West Virginia: See above.

Stanford at California: The Big Game.

Games to watch SEC edition!

South Carolina at Florida: South Carolina, Florida and Georgia don’t get to play against Alabama this year in the regular season so they are all clamoring to play them in the post season. I can’t for the life of me figure out why. This game helps decide who gets to be rolled by the Tide (apologies).

LSU at Texas A&M: HP thinks that this game could be the launching point for a feverish run at the Heisman for Johnny Manziel. I think this game is going to be entertaining as hell.

Alabama at Tennessee: Derek Dooley needs to win eight games to have any kind of prayer of staying at Tennessee. Currently at 3-3 with seven games left he has to win five. That means the Volunteers have to either beat Alabama or South Carolina. You can get the Volunteers at +800 to win. I’d take those odds.

 

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Heisman Weekend Wrap Up

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?

Quick Hits

–This

–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.

 

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Heisman Weekend Wrap Up

Let’s talk one-loss teams.

First, let’s talk undefeated teams. There are currently 16 undefeated teams in the FBS ranging from the unanimous number one ranked Alabama to the unranked and certainly unproven 5-0 Texas San Antonio.

Of the 16 teams, 12 face another currently undefeated opponent before the conference title games. Only Ohio State (which is banned from post-season play), Notre Dame and Ohio don’t have to face another undefeated team. Of those three only the Irish have a legitimate chance to make it to the BCS national championship game (and they still have to face Oklahoma, Stanford and USC).

There can be only nine teams to end the season undefeated, three of which we just said will not play in a BCS game (an undefeated WAC team might not end up ranked). That leaves six contenders, three of which will need to also play in their conference championship game (ND and the possible lone undefeated teams in the Big 12 and Big East don’t have championship games to play).

In this six man race there are bound to be slip ups and collapses. That’s where the one loss teams come in.

Like I said, let’s talk one-loss teams.

Everyone wants to bury Georgia and LSU for their losses this weekend. News flash: If either of those two win out they’ll still have a good chance to play in the national championship game. The same goes for Stanford, USC and Oklahoma. It could be argued that even Clemson, Florida State, and Texas still have legitimate shots to play in the last game of the season.

Every team listed above gets to play against one of the current undefeated teams. All face a current top five team with the exception of Texas which will face sixth-ranked Kansas State. Hell, LSU could be the No. 1 team in the country by November 4th if it can win its next three games.

This weekend felt like a seismic shift in the championship landscape but I don’t think that much has changed. The roads have certainly become tougher for quite a few teams but none have completely closed the door on its season.

Quick Hits

–On Friday I glibly called the Florida upset over LSU. Who knew that I could have picked three of the top five teams and been correct?

–Ohio State must be kicking itself right now. It could have easily passed on bowl play last season when it were 6-6 and had the opportunity this year to play in a BCS bowl in a season where it has matched 2011’s win total in half as many games.

–Air Force running back Cody Getz is averaging just 17 fewer rushing yards per game than Tulane’s total offensive yards per game average.

— Alabama has yet to allow a field goal.

— Through six weeks only five quarterbacks have yet to throw an interception. Of the five none have played a full six games and two have played in just four games.

— This

 

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Heisman Weekend Preview

This is the weekend we have been waiting for (until the November 3rd bonanza). Conference games are in full swing, top 25 teams are facing each other all around the country and the top 10 is about to get really shaken up.

Unfortunately the Heisman race has already been wrapped up, right? Wrong.

Geno Smith is the number one Heisman candidate with a bullet and rightfully so after one month of the season. This week he can continue to further the gap between his competition with a strong performance against a highly ranked Texas team. That doesn’t mean there isn’t time for a few other guys to make a legitimate Heisman push.

Take a look at Braxton Miller, he’s facing his second ranked opponent in as many weeks (as is Smith) and has nearly willed his way to a 5-0 start to the season. Ohio State shouldn’t be undefeated, not without Miller at least. I know Cal agrees with me. At some point the voters are going to realize that Miller might be the MVP of college football and that will translate to Heisman votes.

Further on down the list EJ Manuel and Florida State are also undefeated with a real chance to stay that way for the rest of the season. North Carolina State may not be the best competition but being a conference game on the road, Manuel should be able to stay on the field for most of the game and put up some better stats. He’ll most likely be able to shake of the stink of last week’s ugly win over South Florida.

Aaron Murray faces the toughest test of the week as he and the Georgia Bulldogs head to South Carolina to face the number six Gamecocks. Heisman aspirations are going to be on the back burner for Murray in this game because he knows that a win here all but wraps up the Eastern division of the SEC. A win in Columbia and Murray can book a ticket to Atlanta in December. Nothing like a win over top 10 competition to inject life into a Heisman campaign.

Alabama is off this week so I won’t have to hear much A.J. McCarron for Heisman talk, but after the Florida upset of LSU I might have to listen to some insufferable Mike Gillislee for Heisman talk.

Games to Watch

Where do I even start? There are literally 15 must watch games this weekend so I’m going to break it down for you by must-watchedness.

1. The don’t even get up to go to the bathroom games:

Georgia at South Carolina

West Virginia at Texas

LSU at Florida

2. The OK you can go to the bathroom but don’t block the TV when you walk past games:

Nebraska at Ohio State

Washington at Oregon

Miami at Notre Dame (at Soldier Field)

3. The would be best games of the week for last Saturday if it weren’t for WVU-Baylor:

Northwestern at Penn State

Arizona at Stanford

Georgia Tech at Clemson

Boise State at Southern Mississippi

4. The just damn exciting games:

Florida State at NC State

Kansas  at Kansas State

Virginia Tech at UNC

5. The I’m kind of stretching out this bit a little too far games:

Iowa State at TCU

Texas A&M at Ole Miss

Vanderbilt at Missouri

UCLA at California

 

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Heisman Weekend Wrap up: The Sliding Scale

It’s the first day of October and much like 2011 we have a serious Heisman contender from a non-traditional Heisman school. Last year it was Robert Griffin III from Baylor who shot onto the scene with a thrilling game (and victory) against TCU to start the season. Griffin followed up his performance against the Horned Frogs with a season for the ages. He took a team that probably would have been 6-6 without him to a top 15 national ranking and the program’s first ever win over Oklahoma. RGIII had an amazing individual season that was capped off by a comfortable Heisman win.

Oh, I forgot to mention that his team also got blown out by Oklahoma State and Texas A&M in back-to-back weeks. So prolific was his season that his Heisman campaign was able to withstand two ugly losses in a row.

West Virginia’s Geno Smith looks like he’ll be following that narrative if he is to end up in New York City. This is not to say that WVU can’t go undefeated, it’s just that they don’t have to for Smith to win the Heisman.

Let’s look at it like a sliding scale.

There are two metrics; team production and player production. In order to win the Heisman you must dominate at least one of the two metrics while the other surpasses a set threshold.

Here’s a generic example: If a quarterback passes for 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns on a 12-0 team he will most likely be a Heisman finalist. Similarly, if a player accounts for 50 touchdowns and 4,500 yards on a 9-3 team, he may still end up as a finalist as well.

Before I get into recent examples, let me add one caveat. This rule doesn’t always apply to a player who attends a non-BCS conference school. For instance, Colt Brennan of Hawaii in 2006 threw for 5,549 yards and 58 touchdowns, but his team went 10-3 in the regular season. If that performance and record was done at a BCS conference school the Heisman ceremony would have been a formality. As it was, Brennan finished sixth in the voting and Troy Smith of number one ranked Ohio State won the award easily.

The following year, Brennan threw for 1,200 fewer yards and 20 fewer touchdowns but went to NYC and finished third in the Heisman vote because his team went 12-0 during the regular season. Brennan would have needed to go undefeated and put up his ridiculous numbers from the year before to even sniff the Heisman. Such is the plight of the non-BCS conference standout athlete (see Kellen Moore).

Lets look at some more specific examples. In 2007, Tim Tebow led the Florida Gators to a 9-3 record but accounted for 51 touchdowns and over 4,000 yards of total offense, as he won the Heisman over Darren McFadden (and Brennan). The previous year, Troy Smith threw for just 2,507 yards and 30 touchdowns but the Buckeyes went undefeated and Smith ran away with the Heisman. In 2006 the team record out weighed the just decent statistics while in 2006 the individual performance was enough to outweigh the mediocre record.

Last year put the sliding scale to the test. As noted we had a statistical gem of a season from RGIII but Trent Richardson and Andrew Luck were the unquestioned leaders (with more than adequate numbers) on title contending teams. The voters overlooked RGIII’s three losses because they recognized that Griffin’s season was spectacular and historic for his school. Team record took a backseat to individual performance.

Looking forward to this year’s race, you can see why Geno Smith is in such a great position right now. No one will jump off his bandwagon if he fails to beat Texas or Oklahoma (or even Kansas State, another team RGIII lost to last year). As long as his numbers stay on this record-setting pace, he’ll be fine.

On the flip, side we know that Aaron Murray and EJ Manuel teams need to keep winning. Neither can match Smith’s numbers over the course of a season, but if Florida State and Georgia are slated to play in the national championship game then they will be credible alternative to Smith if his team goes 9-3 and his numbers fall off a bit. The same goes for Matt Barkley and De’Anthony Thomas. If USC or Oregon finish the regular season ranked one or two, you can bet that they will be finalists.

Lastly, none of this applies to Notre Dame. In 1987 Tim Brown won the Heisman (convincingly) despite playing on an 8-3 team and putting up just decent numbers (his two punt return touchdowns  against Michigan State helped create a lasting Heisman moment). In 1956 Paul Hornung (The Golden Boy) won the Heisman on a 2-8 Irish team. He also failed to get the most first place votes for the award and only won the Midwest region.

Notre Dame, yet another exception to the rule.

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Heisman Weekend Preview

I’ve heard throughout the week that this slate of games is weaker than most weeks. A good friend of mine always says, “the worst beer I ever drank was simply divine” (same goes for pizza and sex). That’s the way I’m looking at this weekends games. There are nearly 40 weekends a year that have a lot worse match ups than what we’re dealing with.

The top Heisman contenders weekends might look something like this.

Braxton Miller and Geno Smith don’t think this an easy week, as Miller travels to East Lansing and Smith plays in West Virginia’s first Big 12 game against a ranked Baylor. In fact these two probably know that these are the games where they can legitimize their Heisman résumés.

Aaron Murray is hoping to have his breakout week against Tennessee the same way EJ Manuel did against Clemson last week.

De’Anthony Thomas and EJ Manuel are probably going to just go out and put up as many yards and touchdowns as they can in the first three quarters of their games against Washington State and South Florida respectively.

Collin Klein on his bye, will probably be hitting tackling dummies all weekend and preparing his Heisman acceptance speech (probably).

Stepfan Taylor will be watching game tape from his teams loss to Washington last night and will probably be wondering how the Huskies did to Stanford what the Cardinal did to USC two weeks ago.

Jonathan Franklin and Le’Veon Bell both know that they need huge games to get back in the Heisman conversation. Bell has to take on the formidable Buckeyes of Ohio State in a must win game for Michigan State, while Franklin plays against an also ran in Colorado. Their competition might be starkly different but their games will have to look very similar, and very impressive to get people talking again.

David Ash heads up to Stillwater to play Oklahoma State. He’ll probably be very efficient and help Texas win the the game and no one will notice.

Games to Watch

All of them dammit because it’s college football season and it’ll be over before you know it.

Arkansas at Texas A&M

Tennessee at Georgia

Ohio State at Michigan State

Texas at Oklahoma State

Oregon State at Arizona

The Ryder Cup
Love the Olympics and the World Cup? If so then you should be watching Ryder Cup, it’s the best golfers in the world competing for their country. The Ryder Cup is just about the only thing that can tear me away from college football in September. I LOVE GOLF!
Check this out form the morning session

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