Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Big Ten Heisman Watch: Week 12
By Brian Bennett
The Big Ten's main Heisman Trophy candidate didn't play last week. But Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller may have lost some ground in the race during his bye week.
That's because of the emergence of Johnny Football. Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel is the toast of the college football world after leading his Aggies to an upset win at then-No. 1 Alabama, and the freshman is rocketing up Heisman ballots as a result.
Since Kansas State QB Collin Klein isn't slowing down, that means two quarterbacks could be ahead of Miller at this point. And even though Miller has had a fantastic season, he can't quite match up to Manziel's stats. Check it out:
Miller: 56.9 percent passing for 1,753 yards and 14 touchdowns and six interceptions; 1,166 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns.
Manziel: 67.6 percent passing for 2,780 yards and 18 touchdowns and six interceptions; 1,015 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns.
Of course, you know the trump card people will use to support Manziel: He's doing it in the SEC!
The only good news for Miller this weekend was that another quarterback, Alabama's AJ McCarron, was likely eliminated from serious Heisman discussion. But McCarron is likely no better than the No. 3 quarterback in the race right now, in the same ballpark as other candidates like Oregon running back Kenjon Barner, USC wide receiver Marqise Lee and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o. The Heisman is not obligated to invite five finalists if the voting doesn't warrant it.
On the plus side, Miller has two showcase games left: this week at Wisconsin and the finale against Michigan. Two big performances could punch his ticket to New York.
Can Wisconsin running back Montee Ball get back into the race? He needs just two touchdowns to break the NCAA career mark, which he could set this week. While the Heisman is not a career achievement award, the Badgers' only other Heisman winner, Ron Dayne, certainly benefited from the accumulation of stats from his four years. Ball is now No. 10 nationally in rushing yards and tied for fifth in the FBS (16) in rushing touchdowns. His slow start this season no doubt has hurt him, as has the comparison to his own ridiculous numbers last year. But if he can put up a huge game in an upset of Ohio State this weekend, we may be talking about Ball more seriously next week.
My ESPN.com Heisman Watch ballot for Week 12: