Dallas Colleges: Manti Te'o
No. 11 Oklahoma (10-2, 8-1 Big 12) vs. No. 9 Texas A&M (10-2, 6-2 SEC)
Where: Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas
When: Friday, Jan. 4, 8 p.m. ET
About Oklahoma: The Sooners began the year with some national-title aspirations, but those quickly came to an end with a mistake-filled September loss at home to Kansas State. A midseason loss to Notre Dame made it clear that Oklahoma was not an elite team in 2012, but the eight-game winning streak in Big 12 play after the K-State loss made it clear that the Sooners were a very, very good team -- and a Big 12 champion. The Sooners became part of the first-ever shared Big 12 title and celebrated with a season-ending win at TCU. The final three games of the year (West Virginia, Oklahoma State, TCU) were all decided in the final minute or on the final play, and the Cotton Bowl could very well make it four.
About Texas A&M: While Oklahoma underachieved a bit, the Aggies were one of the nation's biggest overachievers. Last year's team began in the top 10 and fell to 6-6 while losing five games with leads of at least nine points. Year 1 under Kevin Sumlin will forever be remembered as the year the legend of Johnny Manziel was born. The redshirt freshman quarterback burst onto the scene with a strong outing in a season-opening loss to Florida but truly broke out with a memorable performance in a road upset of No. 1 Alabama. The Aggies' defense matured under Mark Snyder, but Texas A&M was one of the nation's hottest teams to close the season.
Sooners to watch: Landry Jones will be making his 50th and final start of his career in the Cotton Bowl at Cowboys Stadium, the same place where his career began after an injury to Sam Bradford in the 2009 season opener against BYU. He's the NCAA's No. 3 all-time passer and leads the Big 12 in passing yards per game entering the bowl game. He's thrown 29 touchdowns to just 10 interceptions and got to know transfer receivers Jalen Saunders and Justin Brown well this season. Kenny Stills led the team with 897 yards on 75 catches, but keep an eye on leading tackler Tony Jefferson at safety and shutdown corner Aaron Colvin on defense.
Aggies to watch: Surely you know about Manziel by now, but keep an eye on his favorite targets, Mike Evans and Ryan Swope. Evans is a big physical presence at 6-foot-5, 218 pounds, while Swope uses his breakaway speed to work the slot. Defensive end Damontre Moore's 20 tackles for loss would have led the Big 12, and was third in the SEC. He was also the Aggies' leading tackler, with 80 stops. Keep an eye on the Aggies' underrated running back duo, too, Ben Malena and Christine Michael. They combined for almost 1,200 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Did you know? Oklahoma is 11-2 against Texas A&M under Bob Stoops, but the Aggies knocked off the Sooners in 2010 in College Station as part of their six-game winning streak to close the regular season. Manziel will be the third Heisman finalist Oklahoma has gone up against this season, but the Sooners are 0-2 against the first two, Kansas State QB Collin Klein and Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o. Oklahoma leads the all-time series between these two, 19-11, but will meet for the first time in the Cotton Bowl. Oklahoma hasn't played in the Cotton Bowl since 2002, when it beat Arkansas, 10-3.
More on the Big 12 Bowls:
- Johnny Manziel finished the regular season with 3,419 pass yards and 1,181 rush yards. His 4,600 yards of total offense broke the SEC single-season record set by Cam Newton during his 2010 Heisman Trophy season. When Newton broke the record, he supplanted Tim Tebow’s Heisman Trophy season of 2007.
- Manziel has been responsible for 43 touchdowns this season, tied with Tajh Boyd and Jordan Lynch for the most in FBS. He had six games with at least two touchdowns passing and rushing. That's tied with Tebow in 2007 for the most such games in a season since 2000. Collin Klein is tied for second in FBS this season with three such games.
- Manziel had 70 plays that gained 20 yards or more this season, 10 more than any other FBS player. He was tied for the eighth-most passes (52) and the second-most rushes (18) of 20-plus yards.
- Manziel gained 784 rush yards on scrambles, the most in the SEC. He had 13 scrambles that gained at least 20 yards, including seven touchdowns. No SEC player had more total rushes or touchdowns of 20-plus yards, let alone scrambles.
- Klein has scored a rushing touchdown in 11 straight games, the longest active streak in FBS. The only game that he did not have a rushing touchdown was against Missouri State, an FCS opponent. Since the start of last season, Klein has scored a rush TD in 23 straight games against FBS opponents. That is the longest such streak for any player in the last nine seasons.
- Since the start of last season, Klein has an FBS-best 37 rushing touchdowns in goal-to-go situations. Klein has had at least one such touchdown in 22 of 25 games during that time period, including in his last 10 games in which he has at least one such attempt.
- Klein has accounted for 69 percent of Kansas State’s yards and 66 percent of its offensive touchdowns this season. Klein’s percentages are slightly better than those of Robert Griffin III from his 2011 Heisman season at Baylor. Griffin accounted for 66 percent of Baylor’s total and 61 percent of its touchdowns.
- Manti Te'o has seven interceptions this season, tied for second-most in FBS and three more than any other linebacker. Te’o also has two fumble recoveries. His nine total takeaways are tied for the most in nation.
- Te’o has 103 tackles this season, 42 more than any other player on Notre Dame. He has just two missed tackles all season. As a team, the Irish have missed 61 tackles this season, the third-fewest among AQ schools.
- Notre Dame leads the nation in scoring defense (10.3 PPG) and is the only team that has not given up a touchdown drive longer than 75 yards this season. Every other FBS team has allowed at least three.
In a real shocker, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel has been named one of the three finalists for this year's Heisman Trophy.
Johnny Football is joined by Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o and Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein.
Manziel, a redshirt freshman, appears to be the front-runner after a fantastic first year of college football. He threw for 3,419 yards with 24 touchdowns to eight interceptions. He also finished the year second in the SEC with 1,181 rushing yards and led the conference with 19 rushing touchdowns.
Manziel really threw himself into the Heisman discussion nationally when he helped lead Texas A&M to a 29-24 upset win over No. 1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa. He also guided the Aggies to a 10-2 season in their first year in the SEC and will man A&M against Oklahoma in the AT&T Cotton Bowl on Jan. 4.
Manziel's 4,600 total yards of offense set an SEC record.
But Griffin was asked about the presumed favorite Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel.
"I can't disclose my Heisman vote but I've been able to see (some games)," said Griffin III, who plays for the Washington Redskins. "It's funny that I say this, I was able to see the youngster play and he's done a good job that’s a lot coming from a Baylor Bear, so right now its up in the air for me. It's been a difficult year and I've talked to some other Heisman voters, it's been a difficult year for the Heisman, just to who to vote for. It's going to come down to the last couple of weeks, he’s in the talks."
Griffin said he would have like to see the award stay within the Big 12 and that's where Kansas State's Collin Klein comes in.
"He's a Big 12 quarterback it would be nice to keep it in the Big 12," Griffin said. "But like I said, you don’t know what could happen. My team lost a few games but we won six straight down the stretch and did some great things in prime-time games. You never know what’s going to happen, Klein might end up winning it, Manti Te'o might. It's up in the air."
All three have been great and they deserve plenty of attention.
But there's a name missing from the list -- a very important name, mind you. A name that has struck fear into the hearts of many SEC quarterbacks.
It's Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore, and although he might not have the SEC history that the trio mentioned earlier has, I don't see how he was left off this list. He's just been way too dominant this year.
Let's take a look at some of his key stats from the season:
Tackles: 74 (leads team)
Tackles for loss: 20 (leads nation)
Sacks: 12.5 (tied for first nationally)
Moore has three more tackles for loss than Jones and Clowney. He also has two more sacks than Jones and three more than Clowney. He also has way more total tackles than either Jones or Clowney.
As for the other two finalists, Moore has 4.5 more sacks than Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner and 7.5 more tackles for loss. Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o has been an absolute beast. He has 92 tackles right now, with 5.5 for loss. He has also recorded a team-high six interceptions.
But Moore deserved to be on this list. He's just been too good this season. He's been almost unblockable and has true game-changing ability.
Moore is averaging 1.25 sacks per game, which is more than 15 FBS teams. He's also averaging two tackles for loss a game, which is tied for second nationally. The last defensive lineman to lead Texas A&M in tackles was Sam Adams, who led the Aggies with 78 tackles in 1993.
When I spoke with Moore last week about the lack of national attention he was receiving, he shrugged it off to an extent. He said he wasn't bothered about being overlooked by guys looking up at him in the stat book, but he did say that it motivated him on the field. He feels he's had to prove something every week this year and it pushes him to outplay his opponents each game -- which he has.
You have to think that deep down this kind of stuff gets to Moore. He's way too talented to be overlooked like this, but I'm sure he wouldn't trade any of the Aggies' wins for accolades.
Still, where's the love?
The Kansas State quarterback received 12 of 15 first-place votes and has 71 overall points, 19 points more than No. 2, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Manziel received two first-place votes. Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o received one.
Klein was the only Big 12 player to appear on a ballot, but he got votes on all 15 ballots. He grabbed two second-place votes and one third-place vote.
Manziel had eight second-place votes, three third-place votes and a fifth-place vote. One voter left him off the ballot.
1. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State: Klein's the only guy in the Big 12 with a real chance to win it, but late runs by the guys below him might land them in New York for the trophy presentation. Klein's mysterious injury could complicate this race, but if Klein's production stays even close to what it's been and K-State wins out, the trophy is his.
2. Seth Doege, QB, Texas Tech: Texas' secondary played a heck of a game, but Doege completed 26 of 44 passes for 329 yards and a touchdown, without an interception. Doege missed his chance to really get in the race versus K-State last week, but he's the nation's leader in touchdown passes.
3. Tavon Austin, WR/KR/PR, West Virginia: WVU's offense has slowed, but Austin hasn't at all. He was at his best on Saturday, taking a short catch 43 yards for a score and returning a punt 76 yards for a score. He finished with 11 catches for 101 yards and returned a kick 34 yards, too.
Here's how I voted in this week's ESPN Heisman Watch:
Fifth-ranked Notre Dame sent a message to the rest of college football with a 30-13 win over No. 8 Oklahoma at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on Saturday night. Here's a closer look at what happened and what it means for both teams.
How the game was won: In the trenches. Notre Dame shut down OU’s run game while rushing for 215 yards of its own. The Fighting Irish offensive and defensive lines manhandled the Sooners as Notre Dame improved to 8-0.
The game was over when: Irish kicker Kyle Brindza hit a 46-yard field goal to give Notre Dame a 23-13 lead with 3:22 remaining. The Irish tacked on a late touchdown to win by 17 points.
Turning point: After OU tied the game at 13 midway through the fourth quarter, the Irish stormed back on their next possession, sparked by a 50-yard reception from Chris Brown. It was a remarkable response to the Sooners. Everett Golson’s 1-yard touchdown run capped the drive and secured the win.
Stat of the game: 0.6. That’s the yards-per-carry average for Oklahoma. The Irish run defense was highly regarded when they arrived in Norman. And they didn’t disappoint, holding OU to 15 yards on 24 carries.
Player of the game: Manti Te’o. The Notre Dame linebacker was all over the field for the Irish. He sealed the victory with his fourth-quarter interception and finished the game with 11 tackles, one sack and one interception. He played like a Heisman candidate, leaving his mark on the game with his aggression and hustle.
Unsung hero of the game: Golson. The redshirt freshman quarterback showed exceptional maturity and savvy. He made plays when they were there, tossed the ball out of bounds when they weren't. He finished 13-of-25 for 177 yards with zero turnovers and added 11 rushes for 64 yards and one touchdown. He didn't play like a first-year player.
What Notre Dame learned: Brian Kelly’s rebuilding job appears to be nearing completion. Programs are built on wins like this. With a road win against the Sooners, Kelly’s team made its case earn a spot in the BCS title game. And, at the very least, Irish fans must be thrilled with the progress of Kelly’s program during his third season in South Bend.
What Oklahoma learned: Winning home games against top-25 opponents isn’t as easy as it seemed under Bob Stoops. After heading into the season undefeated against top-25 teams at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium under Stoops, the Sooners suffered their second loss to a Top-25 opponent this year. No. 3 Kansas State knocked off the Sooners on Sept. 22.
What it means: The Irish are for real. Notre Dame is making a strong case to rise to No. 2 in the BCS standings. With wins over Stanford, Michigan, Michigan State and OU, the Irish have a solid résumé and can make a case for a spot in the BCS title game.
Here's what I've got my eye on this week across the Big 12:
1. How much fight do the Irish have in the red zone? This is the best matchup of the season. Oklahoma's been stopped in the red zone one time all season, its offense mostly highlighted by the power running package less-than-affectionately known by Big 12 defenses as the Belldozer. Notre Dame, meanwhile, hasn't given up a rushing touchdown all season. Something's got to give.
3. A chance for a little touch-up. Iowa State's offense made Oklahoma State's defense look pretty good last week, preventing the Cyclones from scoring on nine consecutive possessions. The Cyclones burned TCU, though, and the problem is consistency. Can Baylor's defense show some fight this week? The Bears have been awful defensively for most of the season.
4. Since you're asking, they prefer cherry. Did the dam finally burst for Oklahoma State's defense when it comes to turnovers? The Cowboys had just four in their first five games, but forced a pair last week against Iowa State. This week, TCU brings in a redshirt freshman quarterback who's more talented than Iowa State's quarterback duo, but not as experienced. Can the Cowboys keep it rolling? Their six takeaways are still four fewer than any team in the Big 12.
5. He's Cummings, not going. Last week is not a very fair gauge of what Michael Cummings can do as Kansas' new quarterback. On the road against Oklahoma, the Big 12's best defense? Texas has the athletes, but the defense is struggling. Can Cummings look a little better this week after officially replacing Dayne Crist?
6. Focus pocus. Kansas State isn't a team that shows signs of a possible letdown, but this week's opponent will be even tougher than last week's, when the Wildcats rolled a struggling West Virginia squad. If Kansas State plays up to its potential, it wins this game. If not, Texas Tech can take advantage. Last year in Lubbock, even a five-win Tech team looked better than Kansas State for most of the game before a fourth-quarter rally by the Wildcats.
7. Another week, another shuffle. Iowa State is holding another open competition for quarterback after a rough outing at Oklahoma State last week. In that game, Jared Barnett was replaced by Steele Jantz. Who takes over this week against Baylor? Whoever it is has to produce, or the Cyclones will get rolled against a powerful Bears offense.
8. Tackle the guy with the ball. Kansas runs the ball better than you'd think, and should provide a tougher test for Texas' defense than many expect. The Longhorns have missed more tackles than anybody in the Big 12 this season, and if that continues this week, it could be a tight game. Is Texas up to the task of slowing Kansas' running game?
9. That's your Boykin. Still improving? TCU's fan base has embraced freshman quarterback Trevone Boykin, who keeps looking better and better, despite a tough loss last week against Texas Tech. He'll go on the road against a questionable Oklahoma State defense, but he's coming off a pair of games with four touchdown passes. Can he keep it rolling? He's looking more mature and more refined every week.
10. Stay on the balance beam. Notre Dame has one of the nation's best rushing defenses, but Oklahoma has really established a fantastic balance these past couple weeks. Do the Sooners roll with Damien Williams and try to run at linebacker Manti Te'o and the Irish, or look to take more advantage of speed on the outside and spread the ball a little more than they would against Big 12 defenses accustomed to covering that type of scheme?
Johnny Football's rebound: Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel found second-half struggles in the loss to LSU, but he'll have the chance to really rebound this weekend against Auburn's floundering defense. The Tigers are giving up more than 400 yards a game, and Manziel has the ability to gash this defense through the air and on the ground. Manziel was getting some Heisman love before the LSU game, but his hopes haven't been destroyed. He can still make a run, and good outings against tough defenses in November will help. -- Edward Aschoff
1. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State: Klein is the new front-runner for the award, and largely stands alone atop the standings. He threw for a career-high 323 yards and accounted for seven touchdowns in Saturday's 55-14 win over then-No. 13 West Virginia.
2. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia: Smith hit rock bottom this week and WVU's offense is reeling, but he's still got good numbers, and if he gets back on his previous pace, he might play his way back to the ceremony and who knows, maybe more. Can't emphasize enough how much football is still left to play, and his ratio of 26 touchdowns to two picks is still impressive.
3.Seth Doege, QB, Texas Tech: Doege had a terrible outing in the loss to Oklahoma, but he's been lights-out just about every other week. If Texas Tech springs the upset in Manhattan this week, you might see Doege get some Heisman hype, especially if he plays well. He leads the nation with 28 touchdown passes and is third in the Big 12 with 2,209 passing yards with just seven interceptions.
4. Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma: Jones has played fantastic football these past three weeks. Blake Bell is still vulturing touchdowns, which hurts Jones' case, but he's kept a low profile this season and could make a late-season charge if the Sooners keep winning. His numbers still aren't fantastic, though. He's fifth in the Big 12 in yards and ninth in completion percentage, though he's thrown 12 touchdowns to three interceptions.
5. Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State: Randle's been pretty consistent this season and he's all alone at the top of the Big 12 rushing race. He has 765 yards and eight scores, and averages 127.5 yards a game on the ground. No other back averages more than 94. If OSU makes a late-season run, he'll get into the mix, especially considering OSU's quarterback injuries.
Here's how I voted in this week's ESPN Heisman Watch, and did so with the belief that there's really only one player in the country right now who's played well enough to really deserve the award:
- If you love college football tradition, this week is for you. Two of the game’s most storied programs will go head to head with two top 10 rankings and just one loss (to a top five team) between them. Notre Dame and Oklahoma will play, with College GameDay there to log the fanfare, in a primetime game on ABC. Oklahoma will face a tough test offensively against a big-time Notre Dame defense led by Manti Te'o, whose story you’ll surely hear more about as the game time arrives. He’s played through the death of his grandmother and girlfriend this season. Seeing these two helmets on the same field will just be very, very cool. It’s the last Big 12 nonconference game of the year, and an opportunity for the league to earn a little respect, too.
- So, you thought Kansas State had the Big 12 title wrapped up? Texas Tech will get yet another chance to make the Wildcats work for it this week. Nobody expected Tech to have just one loss at this point in the season, but that’s where we’re at. Both of these teams went on the road and beat top 25 teams last week. This week, another top 25 team awaits. Who cracks first?
- Texas should be OK offensively, but don’t be surprised if KU makes it a game against the Longhorns this week because of the matchup. The one thing the Jayhawks can do is run the ball with some consistency, and the Longhorns DBs aren’t quite the ballhawkers we’ve become accustomed to lately, so KU might have a little balance. Michael Cummings didn’t look very impressive last week, but he was on the road against the best defense in the Big 12. I’d expect him to get another shot, but we’ll see if the Jayhawks can make some headway after last year’s 43-0 debacle. KU will be at home, and Texas’ tackling issues could make it interesting with a Jayhawks team that can run the ball well.
- We could see a tale of replacement QBs out in Stillwater. TCU makes their first trip to Oklahoma State as a Big 12 member, and Trevone Boykin’s had his rough times, but he’s played OK replacing Casey Pachall. J.W. Walsh has been outstanding in replacing Wes Lunt, throwing for 400 yards a week ago, but he's out with a knee injury. Could we see Lunt return, or is it time for Clint Chelf to get a shot? Mike Gundy will give both No. 1 reps this week and make a decision late in the week.
Here’s the full schedule for this week’s games (all times ET):
West Virginia is idle.
- Texas at Kansas, noon, Fox Sports Net
- TCU at Oklahoma State, 3:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net
- Texas Tech at Kansas State, 3:30 p.m., FOX
- Baylor at Iowa State, 7 p.m., Fox Sports Net
- Notre Dame at Oklahoma, 8 p.m., ABC
No. 20 Texas A&M (5-2, 2-2 SEC) at Auburn (1-6, 0-5 SEC) 6 p.m. CT, ESPNU: Johnny Manziel couldn't get past LSU's vaunted defense in the second half, and that makes two stout defenses that have held him in check. Well, he should get more breathing room against Auburn's defense. The Tigers are giving up more than 400 yards a game and are winless in SEC play. This is a chance for the Aggies to rebound, but it might be Auburn's last chance to win a conference game this season. -- Edward Aschoff
1. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia: Smith's day wasn't as bad as the scoreboard indicated in Saturday's 49-14 loss to Texas Tech, but his lead in the Heisman race was trimmed quite a bit. He completed 29 of 55 passes for 275 yards and a touchdown, moving to 25 touchdowns and no interceptions.
2. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State: Klein did what Klein does in a 27-21 win against Iowa State, completing 16 of 24 passes for 187 yards and rushing for three touchdowns and 105 yards on 25 carries. Go up to Morgantown and win next week, while outgunning Geno Smith? Klein is the new Heisman front-runner.
3. Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State: Randle's quietly still leading the Big 12 in rushing and averaging more than 20 yards more a game than any back in the league. He had a rough outing (29 carries, 80 yards, no TDs) against Kansas, but odds are in his favor to bounce back.
4. Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma: Jones is back on the list after a pair of big wins and a pair of big performances in both of those wins. He's got a lot of ground to make up to really get back in the race, but the Sooners are back inside the top 10. That's a good start. Jones threw for 321 yards and two touchdowns against Texas, but his completion percentage still needs a lot of work.
5. Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia: Austin had his worst day of the season, and Stedman Bailey's absence no doubt was a big factor. He was quiet (9 receptions, 99 yards), but we'll see if he'll get back to his old ways this week. Before Saturday, he'd topped 100 yards and 10 catches in every game this season.
Here's how I voted in this week's ESPN Heisman Watch:
1. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia: Smith is all alone in this race for now. It's a long season, but after EJ Manuel and Aaron Murray suffered losses this past weekend, Smith would win the award in an absolute landslide if it were distributed this week. He had two fumbles against Texas, but threw four TDs and has thrown 30 touchdowns since his last interception, dating to last season's final regular-season game, Dec. 1 against South Florida. This year, he's got 24 TD passes and no picks.
2. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State: Klein got my No. 2 vote this week, but he's definitely in the mix to win this, and would be in New York if voting were held this weekend. A simple win might not be enough, but Klein might become a co-leader of this race if he goes to Morgantown Oct. 20 and wins. For now, he's got to go to Ames and beat a good Iowa State team.
3. Tavon Austin, WR/KR, West Virginia: Austin turned his first five touches into 166 total yards Saturday against Texas, including a pair of long kick returns and an unbelievable 40-yard touchdown on fourth-and-4 that was the best play of the weekend in the Big 12. He caught 10 passes for 102 yards, and his two kick returns went for 111 yards.
4. Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State: Randle leads the Big 12 in rushing, and if Oklahoma State makes a run later this season, he might get in the Heisman mix, too. Casey Pachall and David Ash took a tumble on this list, and Randle moves up, despite being off last week.
5. Stedman Bailey, WR, West Virginia: Bailey was money against Texas, catching touchdowns on three of his eight grabs in the win over the Longhorns. He finished with 75 yards, and the Longhorns simply couldn't cover him in the red zone.
6. David Ash, QB, Texas: The Longhorns lost Saturday, but it wasn't because of Ash. In a 48-45 loss to West Virginia, he completed 22 of 29 passes for 269 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. He takes a tumble down this list, but he's still third nationally in passer rating.
Here's how I voted in this week's ESPN Heisman Watch, a panel of 15 voters comprising ESPN experts and analysts.
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