2012 Heisman Trophy Watch List: Manziel states case as top contender, plus other awards

Mike Huguenin is the epitome of a Gamedayr. He has spent over 28 years in sports journalism, with notable stints at Yahoo! Sports/Rivals.com, NY Times, The Sporting News, and Orlando Sentinel.  On Gamedayr, Mike provides expert analysis on Heisman updates, weekly game news, bowl projections and college basketball.


Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel finished up his regular season by setting a major record. Now, Kansas State QB Collin Klein gets one more shot at making some noise in the Heisman “race.”

Johnny Manziel set the SEC single-season total offense record as a redshirt freshman. (Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE)

Manziel accounted for 439 total yards and five touchdowns in the Aggies’ 59-29 dismantling of Missouri this past Saturday. In the process, he set a SEC single-season mark with 4,600 yards of total offense. He broken the record set by Auburn QB Cam Newton in 2010, who in turn had broken the record set by Florida QB Tim Tebow in 2007. Tebow and Newton both won the Heisman.

Manziel’s numbers came against a tough schedule; though A&M played two FCS opponents, Manziel and the Aggies also faced three defenses ranked in the national top 10. (Klein and K-State have played three in the top 50.) Manziel accounted for 881 total yards and three TDs against top three top-10 defenses (Alabama, Florida and LSU).

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Manziel leads the SEC in rushing and is second nationally in total offense; he played against six teams that rank in the national top 50 in rush defense, including three in the top 10, four in the top 25 and five in the top 28. Klein has played against one rush defense that is in the top 10 and just three in the top 69.

Manziel finished the regular season with 1,181 yards and 19 TDs on the ground and 3,419 yards and 24 TDs through the air. Klein has 787 yards and 20 TDs on the ground and 2,306 yards and 14 TDs through the air going into Saturday’s game with Texas.

Notre Dame LB Manti Te’o (103 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, seven interceptions, a fumble recovery and four pass breakups) and Ohio State QB Braxton Miller (1,271 yards and 13 TDs on the ground, 2,039 yards and 15 TDs in the air) are the most important players on the nation’s only two unbeaten teams, and they also will get some Heisman attention.

Here is our weekly look at the top three candidates for some key postseason awards:

Heisman (most outstanding player)
1. QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
2. QB Collin Klein, Kansas State
3. LB Manti Te’o, Notre Dame

Biletnikoff (most outstanding WR)
(Finalists already announced)
1. Marqise Lee, USC
2. Stedman Bailey, West Virginia
3. Terrance Williams, Baylor

Doak Walker (best running back)
(Finalists already announced)
1. Montee Ball, Wisconsin
2. Johnathan Franklin, UCLA
3. Kenjon Barner, Oregon

Mackey (top tight end)
(Finalists already announced)
1. Zach Ertz, Stanford
2. Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, Washington
3. Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame

Davey O’Brien (top quarterback)
(Finalists already announced)
1. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
2. Collin Klein, Kansas State
3. Braxton Miller, Ohio State

Outland (top interior lineman)
(Finalists already announced)
1. T Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
2. C Barrett Jones, Alabama
3. G Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina

Butkus (most outstanding LB)
(Finalists already announced)
1. Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
2. Jarvis Jones, Georgia
3. Kevin Minter, LSU

Thorpe (most outstanding DB)
(Finalists already announced)
1. CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
2. S Phillip Thomas, Fresno State
3. CB Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State

Lou Groza (top kicker)
(Finalists already announced)
1. Cairo Santos, Tulane
2. Dustin Hopkins, Florida State
3. Caleb Sturgis, Florida

Ray Guy (top punter)
(Finalists already announced)
1. Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech
2. Kyle Christy, Florida
3. Scott Kovanda, Ball State

[2012 coaching carousel: All the coaches that have been fired thus far]