Over the last few days, we've all seen (and tweeted) stats about how Johnny Manziel stacks up to Cam Newton and Tim Tebow in their Heisman campaigns. The problem is, Manziel isn't competing against Cam Newton and Tim Tebow. He's competing, mainly, against Collin Klein. The stellar, the efficient, the humble, the next-Tim-Tebow and most importantly, the undefeated, Collin Klein.
If Johnny Manziel has a chance at the Heisman, he's going to need Texas or Baylor to knock off Kansas State.
There's no doubt that if all things were equal, Manziel should win the trophy over Klein. He has better numbers, over a tougher schedule, and has more “Heisman moments” than Klein. But all things aren't equal because Manziel has losses.
Collin Klein has had off games. After all, last week against TCU Klein managed just 195 yards of total offense, fewer than Manziel had in the first half against then-top-ranked Alabama. He averaged 6.9 yards per pass attempt and 3.3 yards per rush attempt. Manziel averaged 8.2 yards per pass and 5.1 yards per rush, against Alabama.
But, as I've said all season, the Heisman isn't about the numbers. Yes, you have to have the numbers to back up your candidacy, but numbers don't win it. Moments can win it, but mostly, wins win it. Manziel has a signature win at Alabama, but Klein's team is undefeated. That's the only stat that really matters right now because unless Kansas State loses or something extremely bizarre happens, Collin Klein is going to win the Heisman.
That's why Manziel's Heisman hopes, ironically, rest with the most tenuous of allies, the defenses of Baylor and Texas. Kansas State has just two opponents left on the schedule, and they're the ones that would least like to see the Aggies have a Heisman winner.
First is Baylor, where Klein is more likely to win the Heisman by setting an NCAA total yardage record than he is to lose it. The Bears have the nation's worst defense, but perhaps Baylor can “rise up” and save their otherwise dismal season. This game is in primetime on Saturday on ESPN, so the whole nation will be watching if Baylor can challenge the Wildcats.
The real game to watch is going to be Kansas State's final test of the season, and it couldn't be a more perfect one. With players like Peter Jenkins, Malcom Brown, Cedric Reed, Dalton Santos and other familiar names to Aggie fans, the Texas Longhorns are probably going to be Manziel's best chance at the trophy.
The Longhorn defense hasn't been particularly good this season, but they do have some athletes on the defensive side of the ball that could test Klein. After all, Klein has only faced a couple of good defenses this year.
The other reason this game is going to make or break the Heisman race is that it comes in the final week of the season. A&M's final game is next week in primetime against Missouri, where Manziel will have his final chance to show the nation why he should win. But Klein will get to respond the next weekend, when the other major conferences have their championship games.
If Klein falters on that stage, then perhaps Manziel could have a chance to become the first freshman to ever win the Heisman Trophy. If he doesn't then all of the stats in the world aren't going to matter because despite Manziel's record breaking numbers, he'll have one thing Klein won't, losses.