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1. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
Last Week: 316 total yards (83 rushing) & 4 TDs (2 rushing) in win vs. No. 14 Texas Tech
Outlook: Following a statement win over West Virginia, K-State had to avoid a potential letdown against Texas Tech. They did just that in a 55-24 victory. The win positions Kansas State as a BCS championship contender, as the Wildcats are 8-0 for the first time since 1999.
Having scored 110 points in the last two weeks, Klein’s totaled 680 yards and 11 touchdowns in those games. He’s cemented himself as the Heisman favorite heading into November. However, losing late is more detrimental than losing early, so his lead isn’t bulletproof.
2. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Last Week: Idle
Outlook: Smith may have fallen significantly had he played this week, but I refuse to move a player down during an off week. He remains No. 2, as a result. My goal is to avoid overreacting to a single game, especially in the early to mid portion of the season.
Others may move a player(s) up or down three, four spots each week. That kind of volatility is reactionary. I want to make sure we keep the long-term prospects of a player in mind, so the bye weeks act as a good roadblock. It's worth noting that Smith's status remains on thin ice.
3. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Last Week: 277 total yards (134 rushing), 3 TDs (2 rushing), & 1 INT in win at Penn State
Outlook: A week after suffering a neck injury, Miller bounced back and led Ohio State to their best win to date. There are a couple of pros and cons at play, though. The obvious pro is Ohio State won and is off to a 9-0 start.
However, both Penn State and Ohio State are on probation, so this game was technically meaningless. As a result, the national media didn’t give it as much publicity as it may have received under normal circumstances. Nevertheless, the Buckeyes keep winning and Miller keeps churning out the statistics. An undefeated season is a legitimate possibility and that will weigh heavily on Heisman voters.
4. De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
Last Week: 179 all-purpose yards & 2 TDs (1 return) in win vs. Colorado
Outlook: An underwhelming October decreased Thomas’ Heisman credentials. He finally broke through last week, as Oregon routed Colorado en route to 617 yards of offense and 70 points.
This performance and specifically, his spectacular 73-yard punt return certainly helps his stock. However, he’ll play most of his chips next week as Oregon faces USC. Despite the Trojans two losses, this is still one of the biggest games of the year, especially in the Pac-12. A big performance in a winning effort keeps Thomas in the top five. Anything less and his Heisman bubble pops.
5. Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
Last Week: 11 tackles, 1 sack, & 1 INT in win at No. 8 Oklahoma
Outlook: This just got serious. Prior to Saturday’s win over Oklahoma, there was still a sense of skepticism about Notre Dame. They beat Stanford on a controversial call and benefited from Michigan and Michigan State’s struggles. However, beating Oklahoma in Norman solidifies them as BCS championship contenders.
Any defensive player appearing in the Heisman race is especially noteworthy. It suggests that player is either producing in other aspects of the game or having a unique season. Te’o falls under the latter. With a soft schedule coming up, Notre Dame could be 11-0 when they play USC in their regular-season finale. Under these circumstances, Te’o should be within striking distance of the top spot heading into that weekend.
On the Bubble
Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Matt Barkley, QB, USC
E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State
A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama