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Heisman Watch: USC's Influence
By Matt Horkman

1. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
Last Week: 195 total yards (50 rushing), 2 TDs, & 1 INT in win at TCU

Outlook: The biggest boost to Klein’s Heisman candidacy was Texas A&M’s victory over No. 1 Alabama. The win now elevates K-state to No. 1 in the BCS, which obviously places them in the driver’s seat for a BCS championship appearance.

They still have to go through Baylor and Texas. The Longhorns figure to present the biggest obstacle, but the Wildcats will have home field advantage. The atmosphere may prove decisive with a potential national championship at stake.

Stock: Steady

2. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Last Week: Idle

Outlook: Two weeks away from a perfect regular-season, Ohio State was off this week as they prepare for a trip to Madison for a matchup with Wisconsin. The Buckeyes are essentially playing for pride, as they can’t earn a trip to the Rose Bowl (or BCS championship) because of their postseason ban.

They can win the Heisman, however. Miller’s strongest path depends on the Buckeyes remaining as the lone unbeaten team at the end of the season. They can hold up their end of the bargain with two more wins, but they’ll need help from Texas and USC among others.

Stock: Steady

3. Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon
Last Week: 100 total yards (35 rushing) in win at California

Outlook: On the heels of a legendary 321-yard performance against USC, Barner disappointed against California. The Ducks still managed 59 points with QB Marcus Mariota tossing six touchdown passes.

Looking forward, Barner has remaining games against Oregon State and potentially USC in the Pac-12 championship game. Both are big contests that offer an opportunity for Barner to enhance his case for the Heisman.

Stock: Steady

4. Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
Last Week: 5 tackles & 1 INT in win at Boston College

Outlook: Te’o added an interception in a 21-6 win over Boston College on Saturday night. The win puts Notre Dame one-step closer to an unbeaten season. The Fighting Irish have a home game against Wake Forest before traveling to Los Angeles to take on USC. It’s possible -- if not likely -- the Trojans will be favored to win that game.

Winning both not only makes the Heisman race a nail-biter, but it’ll potentially create a media firestorm if the BCS skips over Notre Dame in favor of Oregon and Kansas State.

Stock: Up
Marqise Lee
5. Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Last Week: 10 receptions, 227 total yards (66 rushing yards), & 1 TD in win over Arizona State

Outlook: After clinging to the bubble for weeks, Lee finally broke through this weekend as the variables fell way. The USC receiver is having an amazing season with 1,447 yards and 13 touchdowns.

It’s interesting to note that USC remains major players in college football this season, despite losing three games. As mentioned above, they still play Notre Dame and a potential rematch with Oregon in the Pac-12 championship remains likely. I can’t understate the importance of these games because of their Heisman and BCS championship consequences.

Stock: Up

On the Bubble
Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State
De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama

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Casey McLainposted 2 days and 22 hours ago

I hate USC, but Marqise Lee has an outside shot at 2,000 receiving yards. That'd make it tough not to make him the Heisman winner, but he'd be the first WR to win it since Desmond Howard in 1991.

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