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Collin Klein Heisman Watch (Week 12)

A rough, rough week didn't destroy Klein's Heisman chances, but it certainly knocked him out of clear frontrunner status.

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Ronald Martinez

Well, it seems so long ago now that we were talking about Collin Klein as the clear frontrunner, because he was obviously the best player on an undefeated team and didn't have anything remotely close to a black eye on his resume. Well, all of those things are no longer true, but don't despair yet friends, because not all hope is lost.

The fact is many Heisman candidates have had bad games, even if most of them probably came before November. After all, Oklahoma State fans are still wondering how RGIII ever won the trophy, considering he never got closer than 27 points in three games against the Cowboys, though I suppose he did put up 452 total yards last year.

Mostly, though, Optimus has the benefit of being in a field of players who all have major flaws. We'll get to those in a bit, but first, let's go through the painful stuff.

Last week

There weren't many positives in this performance, but that's not to say someone who was watching the game might not be slightly fooled. After all, Klein's 286 passing yards are his second-highest total of his career, and he did score three touchdowns.

Unfortunately, that's about all he did right. Whether you want to credit Baylor's defense or blame Klein, the coaches, or even some injury we don't know about, the fact is he became a pocket passer with seemingly no desire to scramble or ability to run when the ‘Cats called his number. That's not how we got here.

Predictably, the results were disastrous, and it didn't help that his best receiver was banged up and unable to show up in a form worthy of the Lockett name. To be clear, that's not a knock on Tyler Lockett, just a way of saying his injury undoubtedly left him short of his best.

To make things worse, Klein made some uncharacteristically awful decisions that I can't help but think stemmed from him being in an unfamiliar position, not only with the playcalling, but with his team behind and needing some big plays. The offense just isn't built to do that, and it leads to our hero throwing the ball deep to safeties.

The accuracy wasn't exactly there, either, though, as the early third down conversion to Tramaine Thompson was the only pass that I remember really impressed me. On a good night, I'll be impressed like that four or five times.

When you throw three interceptions and have 50 attempts, no one's going to be impressed by your 286 yards. Just ask Matt Ryan, and the Falcons actually won that game.

Baylor called up some great schemes to stop the run and the blocking was generally abysmal, but you could make the argument that those are the times when a Heisman winner will step up and put the team on his back. Instead, Klein barely averaged more than two yards per carry and turned in his lowest output of the season.

Luckily, he did have the QB sneak to make him the first two-time member of the exclusive 20-10 club. But this is no time for celebrating. As long as Saturday night was for some of us, you can rest assured that it was longer for Optimus Klein.

Perhaps most distressing is that this game exacerbated a disturbing trend of Klein getting worse each week since the destruction of the Mountaineers in Morgantown. Undoubtedly, that was an incredible performance that didn't really need to be topped, but when you regress for four straight games, you're going to be fairly low by the fourth one, not to mention the problems it creates in our what-have-you-done-for-me-lately? culture.

Next Week

Hopefully by Saturday Klein and Snyder will have found a perfect formula for demolishing Texas and putting up massive numbers while doing it. If anyone can do it, it's those two.

Other contenders

Make no mistake about it, this is a really weak field and one monster week from some of the guys just below real contender status (Kenjon Barner, A.J. McCarron, Marqise Lee, Braxton Miller, Matt Barkley) could well get them some first place votes. The players at the top are all weaker candidates than the winners from the last few years, for various reasons.

For right now, though, I'd love to find a reason to include someone besides these two, but really, I can't. Plus, I'm tired and just want to finish this.

No defensive player or guy for a team on probation is going to win it, and even though Marqise Lee may well be the most talented player in all of college football (seriously, watch him play) and he has the numbers, it's almost impossible to imagine a wide receiver winning the Heisman with four losses.

Collin Klein:172-158 (66.7%), 2,306 yards, 14 TD, 6 INT, 171 rush, 787 yards, 20 TDs

Johnny Manziel: 241-356 (67.7%), 3,047 yards, 21 TD, 7 INT, 172 rush, 1,114 yards, 17 TD

Klein may have kept the edge in turnovers, but he lost his leads in QB rating and coFor mpletion percentage against Manziel during this disastrous week, which was actually just about the same as Manziel's game against LSU. The only differences are LSU's (deserved) 1,000 times better defense, and the fact that Baylor has an offense so the Bears won by 28, whereas the Tigers won by 5.

I wouldn't blame any voter for leaning towards Manziel right now, especially since I don't believe in the whole freshman argument or the idea of a career trophy for Klein. However, I can assure you that both of those factors will be considered by many real Heisman voters, so that's a big mark against Manziel. Plus, he doesn't talk to the media and as a result doesn't have the story Klein does.

What others are saying

It makes sense that Johnny Manziel is the new leader in the USA Today's survey of 36 Heisman voters, with 15 of the first-place votes. What is mind-boggling to me is that the defender for the Domers has just as many, but I guess that's the whole don't vote for a a freshman thing at its worst.

Heisman Pundit/CBS Sports' rankings are, to me, the most rational, as he puts Johnny Football at #1 with Collin Klein and #2 and no one else on the list. SI's Zac Ellis kept Klein at #1, but Manziel is certainly close behind. The Sporting News' Steve Greenberg has (justifiably) changed his tune considerably, putting Manziel at #1 with Klein's chances "all but killed."

Klein got a single first-place vote from ESPN's 15 voters this week, and Manziel is the runaway #1. Friend of BOTC David Ubben was one of seven to put Klein at fourth, but I don't understand his love for Braxton Miller (#2), who actually had a worse QB rating than Klein last Saturday. Luckily, Ohio State's defense showed up and they were playing Wisconsin.

I still hate the ESPN Fan Poll.