The Collin Klein for Heisman train has reached full speed and nearly everyone is on board, even if they get a little awkward around him. It wasn't a spectacular performance in terms of numbers, but as usual, Optimus did virtually everything his teammates and coaches needed him to do.
In the meantime, several Heisman contenders had weak performances to shrink the field a bit, though there was another quarterback who looked brilliant in leading his team to a big win. Plenty of hard work remains if Klein's even going to earn a trip to New York, but these first four weeks could hardly have been scripted any better.
No matter what happens from here, it's safe to say Klein will have the name recognition required to win college football's most prestigious award. The big question remaining is whether he'll have the stats, and perhaps more importantly, the wins.
Sure, 13 of 21 for 149 yards plus 17 carries for 79 yards and a touchdown doesn't seem all that impressive. Luckily, this was the Fox Game of the Week on national television, so it's safe to assume most voters are aware of just how vital a role Klein played in K-State's upset.
Along with not making any significant mistakes (that inexplicable pass into the ground to stop the clock on the final drive was probably his biggest error) Klein simply came through in the clutch. Repeatedly. The Wildcats were 7 of 14 on 3rd down conversions, and let's not forget two of those seven failures came within a yard of success (one was rectified by a determined QB sneak for the first) and another only came about because Torell Miller isn't good at catching footballs.
Yes, Klein missed one deep pass to Chris Harper, but he also made a good one to Tramaine Thompson and even found the aggressive Harper of old downfield for a big gain. It was by no means an astonishing display of accuracy, but we always know Klein will provide in other areas to make up for that deficiency.*
*I felt like the worst call of the game came when both announcers gushed over Klein's third down throw to a WIDE OPEN Tramaine Thompson on the final touchdown drive. I think there was even a reference to Johnny Unitas by Charles Davis, who claimed Klein hit Thompson "in stride."
In reality, it was one of Klein's easiest throws of the game thanks to completely busted coverage from OU. The pass didn't hit Thompson in stride, but that wasn't Klein's fault, because there was no stride. Thompson had virtually stopped.
Snyder would say later in his weekly show that Kansas State could have scored if Thompson had kept going. The reaction from the announcers was incredibly confusing to me, especially when watching the replay after hearing Snyder's explanation.
Of course I wish Klein would have scored another touchdown or two, but obviously no one's going to argue Hubert didn't deserve the one he got. In fact, it wouldn't be completely crazy to start a John Hubert Heisman Watch, as long as I put on my purple glasses.
Then again, Klein could have thrown for 300 yards, run for 100 and scored three touchdowns, and I'm not sure it would have done as much for his Heisman campaign if K-State had lost. I know that scenario is incredibly hard to imagine, but hey, it could have happened.
The fact is he's no longer just "a really good quarterback" in the eyes of voters. Now he's definitively established himself as "a really good quarterback for a really good team." The importance of that distinction cannot be overstated, though it's not necessarily permanent.
What he needs this week
Rest. Recover. Spend some time with the wife. Provide some community service. Keep rocking straight As. Continue to charm the media. Don't stop being awesome. Maybe watch some KU tape, if life gets boring.
It was a rough week for our West Coast friends. Matt Scott only completed 50 percent of his passes and threw 3 interceptions as his team got shut out 49-0. In that same game, De'Anthony Thomas nearly doubled his season total with 12 carries and had a season-low 48 yards. Goodbye for now, though Thomas could be back.
UCLA's Johnathan Franklin is no longer the leading rusher in the country after rushing for 45 yards in a loss to the worst OSU. Back in the almost-but-not-quite Midwest, Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater threw for less than 200 yards and two interceptions to go with his two touchdowns as his team snuck by mighty Florida International, 28-21. Thanks for playing, guys.
After all of that, let's take a look at our new Heisman Watch. We do have one new face, though presumably none of you saw much of him Saturday night, except in highlights or perhaps during commercials.
Collin Klein, QB, KSU: 56-80 (70%), 758 yards, 5 TD, 2 INT, 63 rush, 312 yards, 5 TD
E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State: 69-94 (73.4%) 905 yards, 8 TDs, 1 INT, 24 rush, 188 yards, 1 TD
A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama: 51-81 (63%), 819 yards, 10 TD, 1 INT, 15 rush, -39 yards
Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia: 69-104 (66.3%), 1,092 yards, 10 TD, 2 INT, 19 rush, 1 yard, 3 TD
Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia: 96-118 (81.4%), 1,072 yards, 12 TD, 0 INT, 16 rush, 67 yards, 1 TD
Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia: 24 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 7.5 TFL, 1 INT, 13 QB hurries, 3 FF
As hard as it is for me to admit Florida State is nationally relevant again, the Seminoles are making themselves impossible to ignore after that impressive win (for an ACC team, anyway) over Clemson. Manuel went all Geno Smith as he led his team's comeback, completing nearly 80% of his passes while throwing for 380 yards, 2 TDs, and avoiding turnovers.
I don't really get all the Aaron Murray hype, but the Bulldogs do have some good wins and he has some decent numbers, so he gets the nod this week. Also, I had to put in a non-QB and no RB or WR for an undefeated team was deserving, so congratulations Jarvis Jones. I don't really think he's a contender.
What others are saying
Obviously, Klein got a huge boost this week as much of the nation saw what we already knew: This man gets it done. Smith is still the clear frontrunner despite more than doubling his season total with (gasp!) 13 incompletions against Maryland.
But we're drawing ever closer to the Smith-Klein showdown in Morgantown on Oct. 20. As a matter of fact, before I went to bed Saturday night I nixed my other potential plans for that weekend (sorry, friends) and purchased a ticket in the K-State section in the south endzone that should arrive in my mailbox this afternoon. Shoot me an email if you'll be there and want to hang out.
CBS Sports now puts Klein fifth because they're looking for big, flashy numbers, while SI is more logical and puts Optimus at third. Klein reached second place behind Smith with two first-place votes in the Heisman Pundit/CBS Sports straw poll.
ESPN gave Manuel a huge boost up to second, but Klein is close behind at third place despite the fact that one idiot still gave De'Anthony Thomas a first-place vote. Friend of BOTC David Ubben's ballot looks identical to that of ESPN at-large, except that Aaron Murray is fifth rather than Braxton Miller, who I will absolutely be refusing to talk about ever again in this feature.