Heisman watch 2012: Johnny Football and Manti Te'o the top two challengers

Scott Halleran

Depending on whether you are a fan of offensive excitement or defensive excellence, Johnny Manziel of the Texas A&M Aggies and Manti Te'o of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are your last two candidates to win the 2012 Heisman Trophy.

Although there will be several contenders invited to New York City, only two real finalists remain to capture the award, with no one really making a move to leapfrog over anyone else. Here are your nominees for this week.

Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel is in a good spot and remains the favorite after torching Missouri with five touchdowns. He ran for two touchdowns and 67 yards while throwing for 372 yards and adding three more scores and an interception. Texas A&M beat Missouri 59-29. There are only a few things that could hold Manziel back from winning the award: His youth (he's only a redshirt freshman and should be back in contention the next few years), and his team not getting to a BCS bowl. His stats are very impressive though.


Bowl projections || BCS ranking projections

Right behind him is his main competition in Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Manti Te'o. Te'o actually (surprisingly) didn't have a big game in the trenches against USC stat-wise, only registering five tackles. But he did get his seventh interception on the season, and Notre Dame hung on to beat USC 22-13. Considering Te'o is the best player on the No. 1 team in the country, he might have a decent shot at winning the award.

As for the rest, Collin Klein of Kansas State figures to get an invite. His Wildcats had a bye week though and didn't have a chance to prove himself. Unlike Te'o and Manziel (their seasons are done), he has the chance to move up with a spectacular performance next week against Texas.

USC's Marqise Lee was steady this week, and had a big catch that nearly brought the Trojans back into it, but was relatively quiet in comparison to his more explosive performances with five catches for 75 yards. Lee still stands a good shot in getting invited to New York City.

Ohio State's Braxton Miller might represent the Buckeyes as his team went undefeated, completing more than 75 percent of his passes, compiling 189 passing yards and 57 rushing yards. Also distinct possibilities to make the trip are Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd and Oregon running back Kenjon Barner. But it's looking like it'll come down to Manziel or Te'o for the final prize.

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