NCF Nation: Heisman watch 103012

ACC Heisman Watch

October, 30, 2012
10/30/12
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How about a new name to the ACC Heisman Watch?

1. Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina. He may not be a true Heisman contender this year, but he deserves some major recognition for the season he has turned in so far after missing a few games early with a knee injury. Bernard had a career-high 304 all-purpose yards last week in a win over NC State, including the game-winning 74-yard punt return for a touchdown. Bernard has 1,498 all-purpose yards in just seven games this year, already the ninth-most in school history. If he passes on the NFL draft and returns to school, there is no doubt he would be one of the early Heisman contenders in 2013.

2. EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State. Manuel was an early contender, but now that Florida State has crept back into the top 10, perhaps there is an opportunity for him to make a late run. Manuel is a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award, given annually to the top player in college football, so he has already been recognized for his great season. He has thrown for 2,315 yards this season and is completing 70 percent of his passes, with 16 touchdowns to four interceptions. He ranks No. 3 in the nation in passing efficiency right behind two other Heisman contenders -- AJ McCarron of Alabama and Collin Klein of Kansas State.

3. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson. Boyd was simply outstanding last week in a huge win over Wake Forest, throwing for a career-high 428 yards with five touchdown passes to no interceptions. Just as the Tigers have gotten back into the upper tier of the rankings, Boyd will have an opportunity to get more national folks to notice him once again. On the season, Boyd has thrown for 2,336 yards with 20 touchdowns to six interceptions. He ranks No. 10 in the nation in passing efficiency.

Big 12 Heisman Watch: Week 10

October, 30, 2012
10/30/12
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Here's the Big 12's best hopes for the Heisman this season.

1. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State: Notre Dame's Manti Te'o made a move this weekend in the race, but Klein is still alone at the top of the charts, and deservedly so. As long as K-State keeps winning, it'll stay that way. His lead is still pretty enormous. He's known as a runner ... but is second nationally in passer rating. How about that?

2. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia: Smith is out of the race for now after two bad games and a bye week, but if he finishes strong and maintains his crazy TD-INT ratio, he'll have a good shot to attend the ceremony in New York. If madness occurs at the top with losses to lots of teams, you never know, either.

3. Seth Doege, QB, Texas Tech: Doege missed an opportunity to really insert himself into the Heisman race but still played well against Kansas State. He completed 35 of 50 passes for 331 yards and two touchdowns, although his interception was returned for a score and he also had a fumble early in the game.

4. Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State: Randle will absolutely be in the race if he stays at his current pace and Oklahoma State starts racking up wins against ranked teams over the next month of the season. OSU has had a low profile this season, but that could change quickly. Randle is averaging nearly 130 yards a game, which ranks ninth nationally.

Here's how I voted in this week's ESPN Heisman Watch, a weekly panel of 15 voters across ESPN platforms:
  1. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
  2. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
  3. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
  4. AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama
  5. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

Pac-12 Heisman tracker

October, 30, 2012
10/30/12
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Collin Klein looks to be running away with it, but there's still time. Just three weeks ago we thought Geno Smith was running away with it. That's why this is the Heisman tracker -- not projector. There is still time for say, a Kenjon Barner, to step up and make a late-season push. Barner still sits in the No. 3 hole this week in the ESPN.com poll, tied with AJ McCarron. Three other Pac-12 players picked up votes -- including Marqise Lee, who had been absent from the poll for a couple of weeks. Here's how the Pac-12 players shake out. As always, you can see the results of the weekly ESPN.com poll here.

Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon
  • Week 9 numbers: Carried nine times for 104 yards with two touchdowns. He also caught two balls for 47 yards.
  • Season numbers: Has 141 carries for 974 yards (6.9 average) with 14 rushing touchdowns. Has 13 catches for 158 yards and a score.
  • What went well: Everything. Barner is the most complete running back in the country right now.
  • Any questions? Is there enough time for him to make a serious push? The USC game doesn't carry as much weight as it did in the preseason, but it's still going to bring a lot of East Coast and national eyes on the Ducks.
Others receiving votes

De'Anthony Thomas, RB/WR, Oregon
  • Week 9 numbers: Carried five times for 97 yards and a touchdown. Had one reception for nine yards and one unbelievable punt return for a touchdown.
  • Season numbers: Has 58 carries for 499 yards with seven rushing touchdowns and has caught 24 balls for 218 yards and three scores.
  • Thoughts: Absolutely ridiculous athleticism and speed, as evidenced by the punt return. The punt return is exactly why he belongs in the conversation. But with all of the touches Barner is getting, expect many to start throwing their votes toward Oregon's other back as things get tighter.
Matt Barkley, QB, USC
  • Week 9 numbers: Completed 31 of 49 passes for 493 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions.
  • Season numbers: Has completed 171 of 262 attempts (65.3 percent) with 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
  • Thoughts: Statistically, there were lots of season highs for Barkley -- including completions, attempts and yards. But the two picks were killers and being saddled with the loss hurts. This weekend is a last-gasp effort for him.
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
  • Week 9 numbers: Caught 16 balls for a Pac-12 record 345 yards with two touchdowns.
  • Season numbers: Has 76 catches for 1,129 yards with 10 touchdowns.
  • Thoughts: He probably won't get an invite to New York for the Heisman, but he might have locked up the Biletnikoff Award last Saturday.

SEC Heisman Watch: Week 10

October, 30, 2012
10/30/12
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Now that we're about to enter the final month of the regular season, we're getting pickier with our Heisman Watch candidates. That means the list is shorter this week:

1. AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama: All of a sudden, the Heisman buzz is really starting to pick up for McCarron. He passed for 208 yards and two touchdowns against Mississippi State and left the game without an interception ... again. That makes 18 touchdown passes and zero interceptions for McCarron. He has the highest efficiency rating (182.4) of any quarterback nationally, and if the wins keep piling up for the Tide, McCarron should be headed to New York. He also has 1,684 yards and is completing 68.9 percent of his passes.

2. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: After struggling against LSU two weeks ago, Johnny Football returned to the football field with a fury against Auburn. He scorched the Tigers' struggling defense by passing for 260 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 90 yards and scored three more touchdowns. He's still one of the most exciting players in the SEC, and when he's on, he can really make defenses look silly. He's third in the SEC in passing (2,216 yards) and has thrown for 16 touchdowns with six interceptions. He also leads the conference with 793 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns.

3. Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia: Defenders haven't had a ton of luck in the Heisman department, but Jones is just one of those game-changers who can't be ignored. He completely took over the Florida game, registering 13 tackles (12 solo), including 4.5 for loss, with three sacks. He also forced two fumbles and recovered two. He sucked every ounce of momentum the Gators had on offense in key situations. Few defensive players have been able to transform games like Jones has. Remember, he had a similar performance earlier this season against Missouri. He's battling Manti Te'o for the nation's best linebacker. On the season, he has 14 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks.

Big Ten Heisman watch: Week 10

October, 30, 2012
10/30/12
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Braxton Miller is a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate. How do we know this? Because even his head coach is now saying so.

"Do I believe he's a Heisman candidate?" Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said Monday. "I do. I didn't say that before. But I do believe Braxton is a Heisman candidate. He has to play much better. However, just from sheer production of a team that's 90, it puts him in that category, and that's without knowing all the other candidates."

Glad you're finally on board with the rest of us, Urb.

Seriously, though, Miller has been a candidate most of the year for carrying the Buckeyes' offense, and though his stats weren't glittering against Penn State (7-for-19 passing, 143 yards, a touchdown and an interception; 25 carries for 134 yard and two scores), he once again made the plays when Ohio State needed him. His 1-yard touchdown run through traffic was flat-out ridiculous. And when the Nittany Lions were trying to mount a late comeback, he threw a perfect pass to Jake Stoneburner for a 72-yard touchdown. Game. Over.

Has any player in the country created more winning moments and more jaw-dropping highlights on a consistent basis than Miller? We think not.

Kansas State's Collin Klein has been tabbed as the Heisman leader, at least on the offensive side, and with good reason. But we'll do this again to make a point:

Klein: 2,264 total yards (1,630 passing, 634 rushing) and 28 total touchdowns

Miller: 2,620 total yards (1,527 passing, 1,093 rushing) and 24 total touchdowns

Klein has played one fewer game, has a much better completion percentage and has thrown fewer interceptions. But Big 12 defenses are also a lot weaker than their Big Ten counterparts.

So while Klein deserves all his accolades, Miller is right there in the conversation. If he can keep it going for three more games, he should make it to New York City, at least.

My ESPN.com Heisman Watch ballot for Week 10:

1. Klein
2. Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o
3. Oregon RB Kenjon Barner
4. Miller
5. Alabama QB AJ McCarron

Big East Heisman Watch: Week 10

October, 30, 2012
10/30/12
10:30
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Teddy Icewater? Teddy Heisman?

Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville: Andrea Adelson has the Cardinals sophomore at No. 5 in her weekly Heisman Watch. Tom Luginbill has him at No. 3. Bridgewater overcame a shaky first-half performance Friday night to finish with a career-high 416 yards off 24-of-41 passing with two touchdowns and an interception. Directing an 8-0 team, Bridgewater is completing nearly 71 percent of his passes for the season, throwing for 2,110 yards with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions. He left little doubt this past weekend about who the best signal-caller in the conference is, and he is slowly but surely appearing on the national radar.

Notre Dame Heisman watch: Week 10

October, 30, 2012
10/30/12
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"Hello …"

Manti Te'o, LB: The senior captain might have sealed a trip to New York with a standout performance at Oklahoma, particularly with his diving interception late in the fourth quarter to set up the game-sealing field goal. His first-half sack of Landry Jones was quite a sight, too. Te'o finished with 11 tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack and the pick. For the season he has five interceptions and seven takeaways in total. He has 80 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and four hurries.

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