Hunting the Heisman: Barner Storms into Race
Exploding into the controversy is Oregon running back Kenjon Barner, who is coming off a ridiculous five-touchdown performance against USC. He's had a solid year all around and should continue to tear up shoddy Pac-12 defenses all the way into a potential national championship appearance.
Both A.J. McCarron and Braxton Miller have made their case as well and are sitting pretty at No. 3 and 4, respectively. For now.
1. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
Passing: 133-187 (71.1 percent), 1,875 yards, 12 TDs, 2 INTs
Rushing: 139 carries, 698 yards (5.0 ypc), 17 TDs
Why: It wasn't overwhelming, but Klein's performance in a win against ranked Oklahoma State allowed his team to further itself in the national title conversation. The Wildcats' offense had plenty of opportunities in the red zone thanks to his solid play (and the defense's four turnovers).
2. Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon
Rushing: 179 carries, 1,295 yards (7.9 ypc), 19 TDs
Receiving: 15 rec, 184 yards, TD
Why: All the talk has been about the explosiveness of De'Anthony Thomas from the backfield and in the receiving game. Until now, little has been said of Kenjon Barner, who single-handedly disassembled the USC defensive front seven. He ran the ball 38 times for 321 yards and five touchdowns in the Ducks' 62-51 shootout win. But what's even more impressive is the fact that he's been doing that all year! (He owns a 7.9 ypc season average).
3. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
Passing: 136-of-204 (66.7 percent), 1,849 yards, 19 TDs, 0 INTs
Rushing: 34 carries, -44 yards (-1.3 ypc), TD
Why: McCarron's awe-inspiring game-winning touchdown drive that put Alabama up with less than a minute to go saved any chances of him making the trip to New York in December. However, it was that drive alone that will bolster his Heisman resume — that and the fact that he's yet to throw an interception.
4. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Passing: 124-of-218 (56.9 percent), 1,753 yards, 14 TDs, 6 INTs
Rushing: 184 carries, 1,166 yards (6.3 ypc), 13 TDs
Why: Braxton Miller's 1,166 rushing yards are good enough to rank him seventh in the nation overall and second among all FBS quarterbacks (behind Jordan Lynch). He has six games with 100-plus yards on the ground and is always a legitimate threat to take it to the house. The Buckeyes get a bye week before traveling to Madison to face Wisconsin, which is always tough at home.
5. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Passing: 203-of-305 (66.7 percent), 2,527 yards, 16 TDs, 6 INTs
Rushing: 138 carries, 922 yards (6.7 ypc), 15 TDs
Why: Johnny "Football" Manziel plays with electrifying ambition and is always fun to watch. There are many areas with room for improvement, but you will get that with any true freshman. What he brings to the table now is the ability to make plays in open space and to improvise when the pocket collapses, with incredible upside. The Aggies are a good team, and it all starts with their impressive quarterback.
Others to watch (in order):
6. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
7. Colby Cameron, QB, Louisiana Tech
8. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
9. E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State
10. Marquise Lee, WR, USC