It's now or never for K-State's quarterback as all of the other true contenders get set to watch comfortably from the clubhouse.
Much like the team he is trying to carry to a Big 12 title, Collin Klein controls his own destiny as far as his chances of winning the Heisman. In the same way we theoretically should be happy with a team finished to pick 6th even making it to 10 wins, we could be satisfied with CK earning the trip to New York, which has certainly already happened.
But winning both the conference and the trophy are so tantalizingly close, though of course there's a little more wiggle room for the Heisman with the hard-to-predict voters and all of that. Still, with
Oklahoma and all the other true Heisman contenders done until bowl season, it's all about Collin Klein and his Wildcats this Saturday.
Either way, we're certainly going to see a first at this year Heisman ceremony. Either a freshman, a linebacker (who I still refuse to mention by name because I believe his candidacy his ridiculous, though I'll admit that he does at least seem to be an impressive individual on and off the field) or a student-athlete from Kansas State University is going to take home college football's most prestigious award.
Klein became the first quarterback ever to have nightmares involving Joe Williams and Sam Holl. CK also called up Geno Smith to discuss the perils and pressure of being a Heisman frontrunner and having to score every possession because your defense is incapable of stopping anyone.
I would imagine he also did a lot of praying, because that's just the kind of person he is. Unfortunately, the college football gods seem to be leaning pretty heavily Catholic this year, so he may be out of luck.
What he needs this week
Basically, Klein needs to have the game of his life to give himself a good shot at winning. I'd like to think that would be enough, but the K-State inferiority complex tells me it wouldn't be, so I just hope we get a chance to find out.
All I know for sure is if CK plays like he did last year vs. Texas (83 yards passing, 4 yards rushing with 5 sacks against and only 2 TDs) there is absolutely zero chance he'll be taking home the Heisman statue on Dec. 10. However, if he can put together another performance like his last one after a regular season loss, that should at the very least create some tension during the ceremony.
The game I'm referring to, of course, was the spectacular four-overtime win over Texas A&M when Klein threw for 281 yards and ran for another 103, scoring six touchdowns, including a career-high five on the ground. CK basically scored all 3 of K-State's overtime TDs, although the first one was technically a fumble recovered in the end zone by Tramaine Thompson. Close enough.
Perhaps the most important lesson to be learned from that game, not to mention Johnny Manziel's record-breaking season, is that a Heisman candidate on a team with a poor defense has a better chance to put up the big numbers and make dramatic plays to get noticed. Just imagine how much better Klein's performance at WVU would have looked if Smith had been matching him, like Louisiana Tech's Colby Cameron (450 passing yards, 25 rush, 5 TDs) did Manziel (395 pass, 181 rush, 6 TDs) in Aggy's 59-57 win.
Admittedly, A&M held a 27-0 lead in that game, but Louisiana Tech still had a chance to tie the game with a two-point conversion with 38 seconds left. In fact, A&M gave up 102 points in four nonconference games, compared to just 59 given up by K-State in three nonconference games plus Kansas, otherwise known as all the games the 'Cats played against non-bowl eligible teams.
It's no wonder Manziel scored 22 touchdowns in those four games compared to 13 for Klein in his four. Of course, that doesn't even take into account the difference in the two offenses, but those things are far too nuanced for Aggie fans and Heisman voters, apparently.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand, a 200-yard passing and 100-yard rushing performance by Klein with 3 or 4 touchdowns would be quite nice. Though I'd prefer to see a KSU blowout with CK being serenaded on the sideline as the clock winds down, a 50-49 win where he runs for a touchdown and then the ensuing two-point conversion with no time remaining would be best for our hero's Heisman candidacy. Dream big.
Just like last week, there are just two, at least among those I'm willing to mention. I already mentioned what I think of the other guy, and I'd like to quickly point out how amazing it is that Ohio State went 12-0 with an excellent quarterback, and no one really cares. I wouldn't have even dared imagine such a spectacular scenario.
Collin Klein 172-258 (66.7%), 2,306 yards, 14 TDs, 6 INTs, 171 rush, 787 yards, 20 TDs
Johnny Manziel 273-400 (68.3%), 3,419 yards, 24 TDs, 8 INTs, 184 rush, 1,181 yards, 19 TDs
Missouri's remarkably bad defense allowed Johnny Football to rack up some more impressive numbers, so even though he threw another interception his QB rating remained less than a point ahead of Klein's. Maybe just as importantly, Texas A&M made a savvy move to finally let Manziel speak to the media.
Regardless of whether or not he had help from coaches and all the cards on the desk in front of him during the one-hour teleconference call, he made a dazzling impression on all the reporters who seem to have not asked a single question about his struggles against LSU and Florida or his infamous preseason arrest. At the very least, his interview performance will (rightly or wrongly) cut into the edge Klein had in terms of character for many voters.
We've known for weeks that Klein wasn't going to win based on statistics, and instead it's going to come from his character and his value to the team along with his ability to do what is needed, which he had done in every game before the trip to Waco. It certainly wouldn't hurt if he could add Big 12 Champion to his resume.
What others are saying
USA Today's survey of 37 Heisman voters shows Manziel's edge is growing and Klein remains a very distant third place.
Chris Huston, better known as ‘The Heisman Pundit,' made two extremely curious decisions in this week's watch. First, he dropped Klein down a spot to #3, and he also declared Manziel the winner. I'm not 100% sure this guy knows Klein gets to play a nationally televised game in primetime Saturday night.
SI's Zac Ellis came very close to making the same mistake, but he does at least acknowledge that Klein has one final chance to prove himself. The Sporting News' Steve Greenberg went even further to clearly point out the senior QB has a shot with his last game in Manhattan, though once again Klein is third with Manziel well out in front.