Collin Klein Heisman Watch (Week 3)

Sep 15, 2012; Manhattan, KS, USA; Kansas State Wildcats quarterback Collin Klein (7) follows the block of wide receiver Tyler Lockett (16) on North Texas Mean Green linebacker Will Wright (11) during the Wildcats' 35-21 win at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-US PRESSWIRE

It wasn't a perfect week for our hero, but at the end of it he was actually fairly close to the crazy numbers I suggested he needed to get last week. Plus, the man furthest ahead of Collin Klein in the Heisman race suffered a large and unexpected setback out on the West Coast.

I find it incredibly encouraging that compared to his stats after three games last season, our quarterback has doubled his passing yardage totals and is completing passes at a much higher rate. In my mind, that makes up for his 171 fewer rushing yards, especially since he has exactly the same number of rushing touchdowns and passing touchdowns as he did after three nonconference games last year.

As you might have heard, this is a rather big week for Klein as far as the Heisman, his dreams of winning a Big 12 championship, and anything else important in his football career is concerned. It's still early enough that this feature will be back next week regardless, but Klein's candidacy will more than likely either get a huge boost or take a big hit following the game in Norman.

Last Week

Klein had his best rushing performance of the year last week, but it was still considerably worse than any of his three 120+-yard games in nonconference a year ago. That has happened largely because he's only getting about half the carries he got last season, which is great for Kansas State's team going forward, but perhaps not great for Klein's Heisman chances.

On the other hand, his average of 7.7 yards per carry was the best he's had since he rushed 18 times for 41 yards against Missouri way as a sophomore in 2010, so that is rather impressive. Unfortunately, Snyder showed an unusual aversion to running QB draws or options inside the 10, so Klein's only rushing touchdown came on the overturned quarterback sneak.

From a passing perspective, Klein may have once again had his best game of the season. Take away every deep ball he threw to Chris Harper, with whom he doesn't seem to have the right chemistry at the moment, and he had a nearly flawless game.

For the second week in a row, Harper couldn't help save Klein on an ill-advised underthrow that turned into an interception, and Snyder even called out Harper after the game for not being aggressive enough. On the flip side, Klein made a couple of beautiful touchdown passes to hit Tramaine Thompson in stride and was rewarded with his first 100-yard receiver in a game this season.

In this space last week I suggested that Klein needed to get 200 yards passing and 150 yards rushing. He surpassed the passing number, and even though he was well off the mark on the ground, I think the impressive efficiency comes pretty close to making up for it.

What he needs this week

A quick note of clarification here: My expectations laid out in this section are a reflection of the fact that history tells us unless K-State makes the national championship, Klein MUST put up ridiculously huge numbers if he wants to be named the best player in America. Thus, I am going well beyond what I'd realistically expect from him and what Kansas State probably needs to get from him to be successful.

That being said, this is a unique week. The most important thing Klein can do for his Heisman candidacy at Oklahoma is simple: Win. You can be pretty sure all the national pundits and voters will be watching this game, ready to give Klein far too much credit or blame based on how the final scoreboard reads when this one is over.

Snyder knows this one's pretty important, too, so he won't be holding anything back this week. I could easily see Klein getting 20+ carries, and 100-yard rushing game against the overrated Sooners run defense (6th in the Big 12) could do wonders for his candidacy.

OU's pass defense has been much better, though it is tied with K-State for last in the Big 12 with just one interception. Klein needs to prove he can get through a game without throwing a pick, and this would be a great time to do it, particularly if he could do it on another 200-yard passing day.

It all comes back to scoring points against a Sooners defense that will be well rested and prepared following a bye week. Klein opened up Big 12 play against Baylor with three touchdowns a year ago, and if he could top that as he leads K-State to a significantly more impressive upset, we may be talking about him as a legitimate frontrunner next week.

Other contenders

I almost dropped UCLA's Johnathan Franklin because he didn't score a touchdown and the Bruins probably aren't good enough to have a contender, but he does still lead the country in rushing for a team that is now ranked 19th. USC's Matt Barkley and Marqise Lee, as well as Tennessee's Tyler Bray all automatically drop out with losses, though they could be back in October (NOTE: This rule does not apply to CK, since this feature is about him and I make the rules.)

Collin Klein, QB, KSU: 43-59 (73%), 609 yards, 5 TD, 2 INT, 46 rush, 210 yards, 4 TD

Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville: 72-88 (82%), 855 yards, 5 TD, 0 INT, 18 rush, 8 yards

A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama: 36-56 (64%), 607 yards, 7 TD, 0 INT, 13 rush, -42 yards

Matt Scott, QB, Arizona: 88-123 (72%), 995 yards, 7 TD, 1 INT, 42 rush, 190 yards, 2 TD

Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia: 66-75 (88%), 734 yards, 9 TD, 0 INT, 10 rush, 83 yards, 1 TD (2 games)

De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon: 13 rush, 228 yards, 4 TD, 11 rec, 154 yards, 3 TD

Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA: 66 rush, 541 yards, 3 TD, 8 rec, 121 yards, 1 TD

A.J. McCarron is a new addition this week as the player-with-the-best-stats-on-the-best-team, but if he wins this award without putting up better numbers than that I'm going to be very sad. De'Anthony Thomas is our other new addition, because 17.5 yards per rush and 14 yards per catch is insane even if it comes against the likes of Arkansas State, Fresno State and Tennessee Tech.

In fact, all of our contenders basically used last week to pad their stats against vastly inferior opponents, like McCarron against Arkansas. We have our first contenders matchup this week as Arizona travels to Oregon, so at least one of those guys won't be on this list next week.

UCLA has an intriguing matchup with Oregon State, but everyone else will just be playing nonconference patsies this week. Yes, West Virginia, I'm calling Maryland a nonconfence patsy. They lost to UConn.

It is interesting to note the widening gap between Klein and the other quarterbacks (except McCarron, because his team is always ahead by a lot) in terms of pass attempts. It's also encouraging to see CK moved ahead of Scott in rushing yards. Klein is now fourth in the country in rush attempts and seventh in yards among quarterbacks.

What others are saying

This is a new section this week, and the main reason this post is coming out on Tuesday instead of Monday. It's still a pretty wide open race, and of course most still have Matt Barkley on their lists and aren't giving Franklin or Bridgewater much love, presumably because their teams aren't good enough.

Klein is on the rise, and I think it has to be good news that Geno Smith seems to be the frontrunner at the moment, since CK gets to go head-to-head with him later this season. Ohio State dual-threat QB Braxton Miller is also getting a lot of attention, but I refuse to acknowledge him for the moment because of that bowl ban and my intense dislike of everything Ohio State.

CBS Sports has Klein sitting at 6th, as do Sports Illustrated, Heisman Pundit and ESPN. David Ubben gives Klein a little more love, putting him in fourth. The Sporting News calls Klein one of five quarterbacks who could win it without a team title. I sure hope so.

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