Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Teo and Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein are the finalists for the Heisman Trophy, it was announced Monday.
What chances does each player have Saturday? Heres a look:
JOHNNY MANZIEL, QB, TEXAS A&M
The numbers: 3,419 passing yards, 1,181 rushing yards, 43 total TDs, 7.88 yards per play.
Why hell win: Johnny Football is a phenomenon, with no shortage of highlight-reel plays showcasing absurd athleticism and creativity that are catnip for Heisman voters. His 4,600 yards of offense set an SEC record, and he led a stunning road upset of Alabama for the Crimson Tides lone loss. And the Aggies called off the media blackout on Manziel just in time for a flood of stories, features and radio appearances in the stretch run.
Why he wont: The difference between a true freshman and a redshirt freshman such as Manziel is substantial, but he still would be classified as the first first-year player to take home the trophy. Voters might have been wary of that, as well as a three-interception day against LSU in one of the Aggies high-profile losses. Manziels numbers in a loss to Florida (173 passing yards, 60 rushing yards, one TD) werent spectacular, but it was his college debut Sept. 8.
MANTI TEO, LB, NOTRE DAME
The numbers: 103 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 7 INTs, 11 pass breakups.
Why hell win: Because he plays for Notre Dame, which is 12-0 and the No. 1 team in the nation and, most importantly, is Notre Dame. Teo has benefited from the attention afforded the programs high-profile return to prominence, leading the No. 1 scoring defense while battling through the deaths of his grandmother and girlfriend early in the year. If the voters weighed the character part of the award, as the Irishs unquestioned inspiration, Teo got a boost.
Why he wont: He plays defense, and thats it. No pure defender has won the award. And Teo might not even be the best defensive player in the country, let alone the most outstanding player overall, depending on how one views Georgias Jarvis Jones and South Carolinas Jadeveon Clowney. While Teo posted big numbers early on, he didnt record a double-digit tackle game in November, even as the Irish pressed on to a BCS title game bid.
COLLIN KLEIN, QB, KANSAS STATE
The numbers: 2,490 passing yards, 890 rushing yards, 37 total TDs, 7.25 yards per play.
Why hell win: In an offense less specifically geared toward running extraordinary numbers of plays and therefore amassing extraordinary amounts of yardage Kleins numbers werent much off the pace of Manziels. And his team was more successful when very little was expected of it, winning the Big 12 title and earning a BCS spot against Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl. Like Teo, the devout Klein got a boost if voters examined his character and comportment.
Why he wont: His numbers, while eye-catching, arent the most prolific in the country. (Klein is No. 30 in total offense.) And a three-interception night in Kansas States Nov. 17 meltdown at Baylor appeared to sidetrack Kleins momentum completely. He was the longtime front-runner, but his candidacy seemed to take a shot when the Wildcats national title hopes fell apart. It may be that, without a catchy nickname or tradition behind him, Klein somewhat unfairly slipped out of voters minds.