Earlier this season, Collin Klein‘s hoistng of the Heisman seemed like a sure thing. With the guidance of Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year nominee Bill Snyder and the Kansas State Wildcats‘ ground and pound offensive attack, Klein was able to grind out drives somewhat reminiscent of the Nebraska Cornhuskers‘ mid-90’s teams. Now, some list him as dead last on their Heisman Trophy ballots. He has a legitimate claim to be at the top, though.
Klein seemed destined for big things after being moved from wide receiver to quarterback in 2010. His first start came against the Texas Longhorns, a game the Wildcats won 39-14. The Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award winner took the reins with a purpose this season. After bashing through a cupcake non-conference schedule, he led the Wildcats into Norman and upset the then-No. 6 Oklahoma Sooners. That was the first time Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops ever suffered a defeat at home against a ranked team.
In Kansas State’s games against ranked opponents after knocking off the Sooners, Kansas State scored no less than 42 points behind the steady signal-calling of Klein. Without his 3,380 yards of total offense and 37 touchdowns, the Wildcasts wouldn’t have reached the unpredicted heights they did. While the BCS poll’s No. 1 team for only one week, it shows what an amazing job Snyder has done since his return.
Unfortunately, that may be Klein’s undoing come Saturday.
Klein’s the blue-collar guy at this year’s presentation. He got the job done against everyone save the Baylor Bears who threw everything including the kitchen sink and most of the piping at the Wildcats, knocking them from their perch atop the standings.
Despite another defeat of a ranked Texas team, an undefeated regular season and potential spot in the BCS National Championship Game was likely necessary for him to walk away with the Heisman, but he does have an ace up his sleeve, or rather on his wrist: He’s a quarterback.
Lately, if you’re a quarterback that wins most of his games and shows up at the Heisman ceremony, you’ve got a good chance of walking away a winner. The only problem is that he’ll be sitting near another talented guy who takes his place under center in Johnny Manziel.
If Heisman voters can seperate Snyder’s influence and coaching acumen from Klein’s ability to gut out tough wins and lead his team to a Big 12 Championship (despite what Oklahoma fans may tell you), he’s got a shot.
Brandon Cavanaugh is a college football columnist for Rant Sports and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter: @eightlaces