While many voters say that they do not vote for the Heisman Trophy winner based on the success of the player’s team, that is not true. How a player performs may mean the most, as it should, but how his team does and what bowl game they get selected to also plays a key part in the voting process. Never may that be more true than when they decide who will win the 2012 Heisman Trophy award.
As always, there are still quite a few candidates remaining who could capture college football’s greatest honor. Some of the preseason favorites and players on the watch list have fallen out of favor, including Sammy Watkins [Clemson Tigers], Marcus Lattimore [South Carolina Gamecocks] and Denard Robinson [Michigan Wolverines]. But many who were a mere afterthought have continued to make some noise in the Heisman watch, much like Robert Griffin III did in 2011 with the Baylor Bears.
This year’s candidates are mainly on teams who still have hopes of playing for the BCS Championship. While certain players have lost a game or two over the past few weeks, hurting their Heisman chances, there is still enough time to change the minds of voters. But with so many teams still being in the chase to play for the BCS National Championship, one of the two teams who earns that bid may very well produce the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner. Here is a look at the top candidates.
* Collin Klein – QB – Kansas State Wildcats: What is there not to like about this kid? He plays in an explosive Big 12 offense and gets the job done with through the air and on the ground. Sound familiar? It should. Klein has his Wildcats as the No. 2 team in the current BCS Standings and, with a strong chance to get Kansas State to the BCS Championship Game, Klein may currently be the favorite. A loss could hurt his chances, but it will take a couple of poor performances to derail his chances.
* Manti Te’o – LB – Notre Dame Fighting Irish: The Heisman rarely goes to a defensive player, but it can happen. If it does in 2012, it would have to go to Te’o. Through some tough times in his personal life and some tough defensive struggles against the opposition, Te’o has exceeded all expectations. Playing defense hurts, as well as the fact the Notre Dame cannot get that additional conference championship game. But if the Irish can somehow finish the season undefeated, Te’o has a shot.
* A.J. McCarron – QB – Alabama Crimson Tide: He isn’t flashy. He doesn’t make the highlight reel with explosive plays. He also doesn’t make mistakes. He doesn’t turn the ball over. Heck, he doesn’t even lose. Alabama is the defending national champs because McCarron is smart with the football. While I favor the Tide to get back to the BCS Championship Game due to an easier remaining SEC schedule than others, McCarron has a great chance to win yet another Heisman Trophy for the University of Alabama.
* Kenjon Barner – RB – Oregon Ducks: Talk about fast. This kid is as quick as they come. He is explosive and plays for a top offensive juggernaut. It may take the Ducks reaching the BCS Championship Game as well as huge games against the USC Trojans and Oregon State Beavers, but if that happens, expect Barner to receive plenty of consideration.
* Braxton Miller – QB – Ohio State Buckeyes: OSU cannot play in the postseason or reach a bowl game, but that does not prevent one of their players from winning the Heisman. Of curse, it does not help his case either. I would not be surprised if voters do hold that against Miller, as well as the fact that the Big 10 is just not as good this season. Still, he has had a great season.
* Geno Smith – QB – West Virginia Mountaineers: This once seemed as a lock for Smith to win the Heisman behind the WVU offense. That is why we don’t award the Heisman in September or early October. Things change. I am not saying that Smith is playing poorly, but he is not playing as well as he did early in the season. He could still rebound with big games against top teams, but I feel it would take too much for Smith to get back into the top spot.
* Matt Barkley – QB – USC Trojans: Once viewed as the clear cut favorite, Barkley has not done what many people felt he would when he announced that he would return for his final season at USC. Call it a down season, call it unfair expectations. Either way, Barkley is nowhere near a favorite. Of course, with big games remaining against Notre Dame and Oregon, plus a possible second matchup with the Ducks in the Pac-12 Championship game, Barkley could still resurrect his chances.
Other candidates to keep an eye on as they may still have an outside shot with some monster games: Seth Doege – QB – Texas Tech, Landry Jones – QB – Oklahoma Sooners, Johnny Manziel – QB – Texas A&M Aggies, DeAndre Hopkins – WR – Clemson Tigers.