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1. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Last Week: 275 passing yards & 1 TD in loss at Texas Tech
Outlook: After averaging 52 points through their first five games, West Virginia mustered up only 14 against Texas Tech. Smith never found his rhythm, as he completed just 53% of his passes in a 49-14 defeat. The 35-point margin of defeat was the worst for West Virginia in over 10 years.
Nevertheless, the dynamics of the Heisman race remain unchanged. Smith’s path never depended on playing for an elite team ala Sam Bradford in 2008. Instead, Smith’s path to victory may resemble Robert Griffin III, who won the trophy last season, despite playing for an above average Baylor squad.
2. De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
Last Week: Idle
Outlook: This would’ve been a perfect opportunity for Thomas to gain ground on Smith, but the schedule wouldn’t have it, as Oregon had the week off. More important, there’s a debate brewing about whether Thomas is even Oregon’s Heisman candidate.
Also in the discussion is RB Kenjon Barner, who’s coming off back-to-back 100-yard efforts, including 195 yards and three touchdowns against Washington State. Thomas is still the more exciting player, which is why he remains No. 2 overall, but Barner isn’t going unnoticed.
3. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
Last Week: 292 total yards (105 rushing) & 3 TDs (all rushing) in win at Iowa State
Outlook: While K-State did have an earlier primetime game against Oklahoma, the circumstances are different as they travel to Morgantown.
Just imagine the implications of Klein out dueling Smith en route to a victory. Not only would it cement Kansas State as the Big 12 favorite, but it’d also give us a dead-heat in the Heisman race.
4. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Last Week: 360 total yards (149 rushing), 3 TDs (1 rushing), & 1 INT in win at Indiana
Outlook: Miller continues to compile Heisman-worthy statistics as Ohio State looks like the class of the Big Ten. It might all be for nothing with the Buckeyes currently serving their one-year bowl ban.
All they can do is beat the opponent in front of them, though. If they continue to do that, the media will have no choice but to cover them regularly. That’ll keep Miller alive in this race, despite Ohio State’s lack of influence.
5. E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State
Last Week: 439 passing yards, 4 TDs & 2 INTs in win vs. Boston College
Outlook: A week after losing a stunner to N.C. State, FSU bounced back in a blowout victory over Boston College. The win gives life to the Seminoles as they look to return to their former national standing.
The potential remains for FSU to host Florida (on November 24) with a 10-1 record. That game will have national consequences, especially if the Gators remain in the BCS championship hunt, so Manuel’s best opportunity is yet to come.
On the Bubble
Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon