How the preseason Heisman picture has changed
Everybody's an expert in August
What a difference a couple months make, huh? With the Heisman announcement less than a week away, let's take a look at how the top five most likely candidates have changed from August to December.
Matt Barkley to Johnny Manziel
If I were a betting man at the beginning of the college football slate this season, I would have put the house on Barkley. It looked like USC would be in the national title hunt and he would be the lead dog, but an underwhelming 7-5 record took him right out of the race. Manziel is the polar opposite. A guy whose actual name was unknown in the preseason now garners a universally recognized nickname and the SEC's all-time single-season record for total yards. The redshirt freshman who fans call "Johnny Football" is the odds-on favorite to take home the Heisman on Saturday night.
Montee Ball to Manti Te'o
Ball's historic 2011 campaign made him a prime candidate to lift the heaviest trophy in college football come 2012, but his missed time at the beginning of the season led to pedestrian numbers ... by his standards. Though he racked up 1,730 yards and 21 touchdowns, Ball will receive no consideration for the award. Thanks to Notre Dame's undefeated season, a guy on the other side of the ball will push Manziel for first-place votes. Te'o, the emotional and physical leader of the Irish defense, had nearly twice as many tackles (103) as anyone else on his team as well seven interceptions and 11 passes deflected.
Landry Jones to Collin Klein
There were predictions in August that Jones would post similar numbers to Sam Bradford in 2008. (In case you don't remember, Bradford threw for over 4,700 yards and 47 TDs en route to the Heisman that year.) Alas, Jones managed only 29 touchdown passes despite averaging 324 yards per game. Klein, who was a sexy underdog in the preseason, has inserted himself as one of the three invitees to attend the ceremony. His combination of production on the ground (890 yards, 22 TDs) and through the air (2,490 yards, 15 TDs) make him one of the top couple offensive weapons in the country.
Marcus Lattimore to Braxton Miller
Lattimore had flashed brilliance prior to a season-ending knee injury seven games into the 2011 campaign. His promise, in addition to the 800-plus yards he had racked up before being sidelined, led experts to believe he could contend for the Heisman this season. Unfortunately, Lattimore's knee balked again in 2012 as he suffered a dislocation that cost the season's final three games. Miller was impressive in spurts during his freshman season, but wasn't considered an actual contender for any postseason awards. Between Ohio State's undefeated season and his dual-threat statistics, however, Miller picked up some momentum in the late-season Heisman discussion.
Tyrann Mathieu to Marqise Lee
Mathieu's well-publicized off the field troubles led to a missed season for the nation's most dangerous special teamer. The Honey Badger finished fifth in last season's Heisman voting. Lee was without question the top wide receiver in the country this year, reeling in 102 receptions for 1,680 yards and 14 touchdowns. Just a sophomore, Lee figures to be the top receiving prospect in next year's draft.