Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, October 26, 2012 at 8:51 AM
Two weeks ago it was considered a lead-pipe cinch that a Big 12 quarterback was gonna run away with this year's Heisman Trophy race.
Okay, so that scenario is still in place - it's just a different Big 12 quarterback who appears the runaway winner now!
West Virginia slinger Geno Smith had a monster cushion in this year's Heisman Trophy race back in early October but right now we've dropped 'em all the way down to fourth place in this week's Jim Sez ballot while Kansas State QB Collin Klein appears - for now - a mortal lock to be stepping to the podium in New York City the second Saturday in December with speech in hand.
Ahh, the fates and fortunes of the Heisman Trophy and what a "little" 55-14 win by K-State over West Virginia can do to the race, right?
Now, here's our up-to-the-moment Heisman Trophy Watch List ...
COLLIN KLEIN, QB, KANSAS STATE - The new leader in the race for this famed bronze statue was merely marvelous in last weekend's 41-point win at West Virginia as the 6-foot-5, 225-pound senior completed 19-of-21 passes for 323 yards with 3 TDs plus he added another 41 rushing yards. No doubt that Klein is the headiest player we've seen in the sport this year as he deftly follows his blockers on run plays and shows great patience in finding his downfield targets but did you ever think you would see the day someone in this Bill Snyder-coached RB-oriented offense would have 1,397 yards passing with 10 TDs and 2 INTs to go along with 551 rushing yards and 14 ground scores?
MANTI TE'O, LB, NOTRE DAME - Okay, so we bumped this senior stopper back from third place to fifth place in our Heisman poll last week but now we've leap-fogged him past everyone but Klein and that's what a 7-0 start can do for someone wearing the gold helmet in South Bend. Note that Te'o has great stats of his own: He has four INTs and two fumble recoveries to go along with his 69 total tackles (33 of 'em are solo stops) and should this emotional leader of the ND Fighting Irish help his heavy-duty dog team pull out a win in Oklahoma this Saturday night, than the battle between #1 versus #2 here could get a whole lot tighter.
BRAXTON MILLER, QB, OHIO STATE - No question that last week's concussion suffered in the Buckeyes' 29-22 overtime win against Purdue caused this sophomore's stat line to suffer (he threw for only 113 yards and rushed for 47 yards before getting dinged by the Boilers) but we're not about to drop him out of our top five just yet. Overall, Miller has accounted for 1,384 yards passing with 11 TDs and 5 INTs plus he's contributed 959 yards rushing (a healthy 6.8 ypc average) with an additional 10 scores. Miller's been cleared to play this weekend's key game at Penn State and so he could hurdle himself back into the Heisman Trophy forefront with a "W" and some nifty numbers.
GENO SMITH, QB, WEST VIRGINIA - Well aware of the fact that the Mountaineers' senior slinger still sports eye-popping stats such as 2,414 yards passing with 26 TDs and 2 INTs but hard to ignore the stains of the last two weeks when Smith was a less-than-ordinary player for Dana Holgorsen's squad. The folks who remember Robert Griffin III's Heisman Trophy candidacy last year recall he had a little dip in the road too and so don't totally discount this 6-foot-5, 220-pounder who gets a much-needed bye this weekend. Next up: Home to TCU on Nov. 3rd.
AJ McCARRON, QB, ALABAMA - On a team that sports the country's no-doubt-about-it best defense, it's the fiery junior signal-caller who's popped himself right smack into this year's Heisman Trophy race. McCarron - who enters Saturday's Homecoming Game against Miss State with 1,476 yards passing - has 16 TDs and 0 INTs thus far but that Nov. 3rd game at LSU will make-or-break his candidacy and so we'll place McCarron in fifth place with a little asterisk 'cause one false move will push him out of this pack while the likes of Oregon RB Kenjon Barner and/or Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel will get consideration.
On Friday Nite, it's ...CINCINNATI (5-1, 1-0 Big East) at LOUISVILLE (7-0, 2-0 Big East) - 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
The annual "Keg of Nails" showdown between these next-door neighbors/rivals has sported a distinct Cincinnati flavor of late: The Bearcats have won the last four games in a row in this series and so better believe 'Ville boss-man Charlie Strong will be preaching to his seniors that they don't want to leave school without at least one time beating the gang from UC.
To get mission accomplished here, the U of L Cardinals sorely need that one-two rushing attack of RBs Senorise Perry (11 carries for 29 yards against South Florida last week) and sidekick Jeremy Wright (11 carries for only 27 yards against USF) to get jump-started here.
On the flip side, Cincinnati's ground game averages 225.7 ypg and now gets to buck heads with a Louisville defense that surrendered 197 rushing yards in last week's wild 27-25 non-cover win against South Florida. The 'Cats are led by RB George Winn (607 yards rushing) who combines speed with power while averaging a heady 6.3 yards a pop.
Spread Notes - Louisville is just 2-4 ATS (against the spread) this season but the Cardinals have covered seven of their last nine conference games while dating back to the start of last year. Cincinnati enters this prime-time tilt having split its first six spread verdicts this 2012 season and note the 'Cats are just 5-9-1 versus the vig in league games the past two-plus seasons.
NOTE: Get our NCAA Football Saturday Key Previews in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez as we bring you Florida-Georgia, Ohio State-Penn State and - of course - Notre Dame at Oklahoma.