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1. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
Last Week: 364 total yards (41 rushing) & 7 TDs (4 rushing) in win at No. 13 West Virginia
Outlook: Two weeks ago, I wrote that Klein would have an opportunity to change the stakes of this race by defeating West Virginia in Morgantown. Mission accomplished and then some in a 55-14 statement win Saturday night.
Kansas State’s offense was simply unstoppable. Klein threw for a career-high 323 yards and four touchdowns as the Wildcats moved the ball up and down the field on West Virginia’s defense. With victories over Oklahoma and West Virginia, Kansas State’s emerging as the Big 12 favorites. However, they host a hot Texas Tech next week in what has the makings of a classic trap game.
2. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Last Week: 143 passing yards, 1 TD, & 2 INTs in loss vs. No. 4 Kansas State
Outlook: The overreactions will be in full force this week. Many will declare Smith’s Heisman prospects dead in the water. Others may point out that he peaked too soon. They may be correct, but there’s an alterative way of looking at things. Perhaps Smith’s just going through a rough patch.
It is true Smith won’t win a two-man race (ala Andrew Luck vs. Robert Griffin III) against Klein. Nevertheless, the last two weeks were simply just two chapters in a long story, so overreacting is counterproductive. There‘s plenty of time for Smith to regain his footing. West Virginia was never a legitimate Big 12 contender, so Smith’s prospects always depended on an incredible statistical season. That’s still possible. We are talking about Big 12 football after all.
3. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Last Week: 298 passing yards & 6 TDs in win vs. Colorado
Outlook: Just one month ago, Barkley’s frontrunner status went up in flames following a lackluster performance against Stanford. Four wins and 12 touchdown passes later and Barkley’s making a comeback. The media tends to embellish and they did just that when Stanford beat USC in September.
USC’s national prospects remained strong, so counting Barkley out never made sense. That’s why he dropped no lower than sixth on this report. Baring a magical season from K-State, a one-loss USC with wins over Oregon and Notre Dame is a significant player in the BCS championship picture. That in turn increases Barkley’s Heisman credentials.
4. De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
Last Week: 29 total yards (4 receiving) in win at Arizona State
Outlook: Thomas wouldn’t finish third if the Heisman ceremony were today. His stock is descending and others (Manti Te’o & Kenjon Barner) are on the rise. Nevertheless, my goal isn‘t to overreact based on weekly events. I consider long-term potential with immediate results.
Thomas is one blockbuster performance away from regaining his early-season buzz. Therefore, his long-term prospects are worth monitoring given Oregon’s national standing. His upside keeps him relevant, but the longer he goes without Heisman-worthy production, the more likely he falls out of the top five in favor of Barner and Te’o.
5. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Last Week: 160 total yards (47 rushing), 1 TD (rushing), & 1 INT in win vs. Purdue
Outlook: It was an underwhelming performance for Miller, who left the game early following a concussion scare. Purdue had Ohio State on the ropes and took the Buckeyes to overtime. Ohio State managed to escape with a 29-22 victory, but it’s yet another shoddy performance.
The Buckeyes don’t play a game following November 24, so any miscues taken in the next five weeks will have lasting influence on Miller’s Heisman aspirations. The Buckeyes have seemingly escaped defeat all season, but they still have road games with Penn State (next week) and Wisconsin remaining. They’ll need to play better, especially with the Badgers playing for a Big Ten championship.
On the Bubble
Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State
Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Seth Doege, QB, Texas Tech