1. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia – His team’s rout at the hands of Texas Tech weakens his candidacy somewhat, but not enough to knock him from the top spot. Keep in mind that he still has a ridiculous 25-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio and remains on pace to have 4,542 yards and 50 touchdown passes (with an absurdly-low interception total, maybe even zero) by the time Heisman ballots are due. Those numbers should easily lock down the trophy as long as West Virginia doesn’t collapse. While future games against K-State and Oklahoma are potential pitfalls, they are also opportunities for Smith to strengthen his case. Can he rebound mentally from the debacle in Lubbock in time to come up big this Saturday?
2. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State – Klein continues to impress and is the most immediate threat to Smith’s Heisman hopes. He’s on pace to finish with 2,158 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, four interceptions, plus 1,030 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns. If Kansas State knocks off West Virginia on the road next week and Klein plays well, he could wrench control of the race away from Smith. Because his numbers are very good, but not overwhelming, it’s likely that K-State will have to go undefeated for him to win the trophy over Smith.
3. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State – The argument that Miller is hurt by Ohio State’s probation doesn’t hold a lot of water at this point. He’ll play 12 games before the Heisman vote is due, but so will the other top candidates in this race. As with Klein, Miller’s numbers aren’t out of this world, but they will likely be good enough to be considered Heisman worthy when also paired with an undefeated season. Miller is on pace to have 2,179 passing yards and 19 touchdowns (with seven picks) plus 1,560 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. Outside of the season-ender againstMichigan, he doesn’t have any spotlight games left in which to make his case, so he’ll need to close out strong to have a shot at the trophy.
4. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M – I’ve always been on record that a freshman will never win the Heisman. I still stand by that notion, but I’m also open to the possibility that I may one day be proven wrong! Manziel looks to me to have the capability to mount a once-in-a-lifetime run at the trophy. ‘Johnny Football’ already has two games of 550-plus yards of total offense this season and he’ll likely end up a 3,000-yard passer and a 1,000-yard rusher in his first campaign–and in the SEC, no less. He is on pace for 48 combined touchdowns on the season, which approximates what the last four Heisman-winning quarterbacks produced. The schedule is set up perfectly for a late charge, as he takes on No. 6 LSU next Saturday and then Alabama on November 10. Call it a long shot, but here it is: Beat LSU and‘Bama and this freshman might win.
Others to watch: De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon