Heisman Chase: Week 5
The Heisman trophy is the single most prestigious trophy in college or professional sports. The iconic trophy has been awarded since 1935 when University of Chicago halfback Jay Berwanger became the first winner of the bronzed statue. 10 of the last 12 winners of the stiff-armed bronze statue have been won by the quarterback position. The two non-quarterbacks to capture the trophy have been running backs, Reggie Bush and Mark Ingram, respectively.
My top five candidates at this point of the college football reflect this recent trend and if history is any indicator a quarterback will be the one hoisting the trophy at the Downtown Athletic Club this winter. The common denominator associated with winning the Heisman is that you need to be on a team that plays in a power conference and has a superb record.
More often than not the best player on the best team is perceived as the front-runner to win the award. However, perception is not always reality as Robert Griffin III took the honors away from players on teams with a better record than his 9-3 Baylor Bears had at the time of the ceremony.
The Heisman hopefuls will fluctuate on a weekly basis as players have big games and others encounter struggles along the path of greatness. Entering the fifth week of college action the debate who the favorite to become the 78th winner of the Heisman trophy.
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The West Virginia signal caller is putting up gaudy passing statistics reminiscent of someone playing NCAA football on his or her Xbox. His 81.4 completion percentage makes your eyes pop out of your skull and wonder if it is a misprint. His decision making is impeccable as he has yet to throw an interception this season through the team’s first three games while compiling 12 touchdowns and 1,072 yards.
He can win the Heisman if West Virginia wins the Big 12 and he throws for more than 40 touchdowns.
The Kansas State quarterback gave himself his first Heisman moment when he ran in for the deciding touchdown in an upset win on the road at Oklahoma on Saturday. Klein burst onto the national scene with 27 rushing touchdowns in a remarkable season for the Wildcats that resulted in a Cotton Bowl berth.
Klein will not have the gaudy passing statistics like that of Smith or some other worthy Heisman quarterbacks, but Klein makes up for that with his rushing numbers. If he can repeat his numbers on the ground from a year ago and lead Kansas State to the Big 12 title, Klein will find himself in the thick of the Heisman race.
Florida State got a signature win over Clemson on Saturday and did so in large part to their senior quarterback. Manuel has been under fire in Tallahassee in the past for his inconsistencies and propensity to get injured, but thus far this season, Manuel has everything working for him.
Throwing for 380 yards and rushing for 102 made Manuel the first Seminoles quarterback to throw for in excess of 300 yards and rush for greater than 100 in a single game since former Heisman winner Charlie Ward in the 1993 season. Provided Manuel stays healthy, the Seminoles should find themselves in the national title picture with Manuel under center.
Ohio State has a special talent in Miller. Last he led the team in both passing and rushing as a true freshman and he has picked up right where he left off a season ago. Operating Urban Meyer’s spread offense perfectly; Miller has led the Buckeyes to a 4-0 start with impressive performances with his legs and his arm.
Admittedly, Miller is a long shot to win the award considering his team is ineligible to play in the postseason, but his play is worthy of consideration to this point. Depending on how Miller and his team handles conference play and if he can provide the nation with some highlight reel runs and passes like he has in the first four games, then perhaps Miller budges his way into the conversation. However, anything less than an undefeated season likely knocks him out of contention.
The presumptive favorite to take home the hardware after returning to USC for his senior season has hit a bump in the road after a loss to Stanford dropped the Trojans from the ranks of the undefeated and tumbling down the rankings.
On a positive note, Barkley still has time to rebuild his Heisman campaign and can do so by continuing to terrorize opposing secondary’s and accumulate touchdowns in the manner he did the first two weeks of the season where he threw for 10 touchdowns.
With excellent receivers like Robert Woods and Marquise Lee, Barkley has the talent around him to make a Heisman push to join recent Trojan quarterbacks, Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart to win the award. Barkley will need to win out to get back into the mix.