Dallas Colleges: E.J. Manuel

Big 12 Heisman Watch: Week 6

October, 2, 2012

We've played five weeks of football, and here are the Big 12's best hopes at bringing the Heisman back to the league for a second consecutive season.

1. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia: Smith played one of the best games we've seen in a long time in a 70-63 win over Baylor, and finds himself all alone and way ahead of the pack in the Heisman race. If voting happened today, Smith might collect every No. 1 vote from across the country. Who else is even in the mix at this point? Smith has four more touchdown passes than anybody else and leads the passer rating statistic by more than 20 points. At this point, he's playing even better than RG3 did a year ago. There's a lot of football left to play, and Smith has a lot of tough opponents ahead. This race is far from over, but there's no doubt about the front-runner right now.

2. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State: Klein was off last week, but he's definitely in the mix for this race, too. He won't be able to make any moves this week against Kansas, but his stock probably will parallel Kansas State's record. Klein isn't able to put up the type of numbers Smith can.

3. David Ash, QB, Texas: Ash looks like a new man this year, and debuts on the Big 12 Heisman Watch this week after a 300-yard game with a handful of clutch throws in a 41-36 win over Oklahoma State on the road. So far, Ash is second in the Big 12 in passer rating and second in completion percentage, with the league's second-best touchdown-interception ratio. Ash has 10 scores and threw his first interception on Saturday in Stillwater.

4. Casey Pachall, QB, TCU: Pachall got stuck in a downpour Saturday night, and had his worst game in a long time. The Frogs got the win, but you can't take a lot from Pachall's numbers, which didn't affect his stock all that much. For now, TCU is just hanging around. Pachall's stock will either skyrocket or crash and burn on the final half of TCU's schedule.

5. Tavon Austin, WR/KR, West Virginia: Austin leads the Big 12 with 48 catches and he's third in the league with 560 yards. He has been quiet this year in the return game, but to this point, Stedman Bailey's probably been even better than Austin. Still, without return yardage, Bailey's got no shot to win. Justin Blackmon has taught us this. The Biletnikoff, though? Bailey's in the driver's seat.

Here's how I voted in this week's ESPN Heisman Watch, a weekly poll of 15 ESPN experts and analysts:
  1. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
  2. E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State
  3. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
  4. De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
  5. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia

Big 12 Heisman Watch: Week 5

September, 25, 2012
Here are the Big 12's best hopes for the Heisman through four weeks of football:

1. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia: Smith is the front-runner for the entire race, and with that come a whole lot of eyes. He has yet to throw an interception this year and has accounted for 13 touchdowns. Smith completed 30-of-43 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-21 win over Maryland. His completion percentage came down to earth, but he was still pretty good, despite being pressured more than he had all season. The reason: WVU's running game stalled without Shawne Alston.

2. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State: Klein helped engineer the Wildcats' 24-19 win over Oklahoma with another solid game, even if his numbers aren't going to turn any heads. He's easily in the national top five for the Heisman after completing 13-of-21 passes for 149 yards and running 17 times for 79 yards and a touchdown.

3. Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia: Austin had his best game of the year in the win over Maryland, catching 13 passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns, earning the Big 12's player of the week honors. Austin's start/stop acumen was on display, and he's easily the quickest guy in the Big 12.

4. Casey Pachall, QB, TCU: Pachall makes his debut on our Big 12 Heisman Watch. It's still early for the Frogs, but despite some turnover issues in the red zone, Pachall has been really, really good and really underrated on the national scene so far this season. He completed 21-of-32 passes for 305 yards and three touchdowns and an interception last week. Pachall is completing 76 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns, and the interception was his first of the season.

Here's how I voted in our ESPN Heisman Watch this week, a panel of 15 voters that previews the award each week:
  1. Geno Smith, QB, WVU
  2. EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State
  3. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
  4. De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
  5. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia

Three keys for Oklahoma in Tallahassee

September, 15, 2011
Oklahoma heads to Florida State this weekend for the game of the week. What has to happen for a Sooner victory?

I'm so glad you asked.

1. Keep contain on EJ Manuel early. Manuel likes to pass first. Don't think otherwise. But are his accuracy and efficiency good enough to beat Oklahoma on their own? He had a nice game against Virginia Tech's stout defense last year (23-of-31, 288 yards, TD, 2 INT) but if Oklahoma's linebackers let Manuel beat them with his legs too, it could be a long day for the defense. That's true of plenty of running quarterbacks, but Manuel is a much more balanced passer than the majority of scramblers. If the Sooners get burnt early with broken plays and end up having to assign a defender to constantly spy Manuel, he's got the ability to beat them with his arm.

2. Don't make the big mistake. As it stands, Oklahoma has about a 60-70 percent chance of winning this game. The turnover battle is important in any game, sure, but for a favored team on the road with a lot on the line, it's doubly important. Oklahoma survived a pick-six from Landry Jones at Oklahoma State last year with the Big 12 South in the balance. It might not be as fortunate this time. Maybe the big mistake is another turnover that turns into points. Maybe it's awful punt coverage on the always dangerous Greg Reid. Either way, plays like that shift momentum, and if Oklahoma wins the turnover battle in this game, that 60-70 percent chance only grows. If it's the opposite? Well, you know.

3. SHHHHHHHH. The crowd at Doak Campbell Stadium is going to be jacked. This is one of the biggest games in recent program history, and a whole lot is on the line. A win validates Florida State's rise and stamps them as a national title contender after last year's 10-win season -- Jimbo Fisher's first season at the helm. Seminoles fans know that. They want that. The Sooners will hear it early. The best way to counter it? Take the ball from the snap, score on the opening drive and quiet the crowd. Florida State did it to Oklahoma last year. Here's guessing the Seminoles don't bounce back with 44 consecutive points for a blowout win like Oklahoma did in 2010.