2012 Heisman Horse Race, Week 5: A clear leader emerges in Geno Smith

Justin K. Aller - Getty Images

You cannot wrap up the Heisman in early-October, but if Geno Smith torches Texas this Saturday, his lead will be enormous.

This really was just a ludicrous week for offensive stats, wasn't it? And as I mentioned in yesterday's Numerical, the West Virginia-Baylor game was almost a bit much for me. The two teams combined to not only put MACtion out of commission (temporarily, anyway) but also produce half of this week's Heisman Top 10. And the stats were so silly that there was almost no way around it.

That said, there were other ridiculous games strewn about the country. Oklahoma State-Texas was fun, Miami-N.C. State was pretty high on the Crazy Scale, and teams like Texas A&M and Northwestern posted some rather silly offensive stats themselves. That made entry into this week's Horse Race Top 10 rather difficult. Sorry, Kenjon Barner and your 232 yards versus Washington State. Better luck next time, David Ash and J.W. Walsh.

1. Geno Smith, West Virginia

At some point, it doesn't matter how good your receiving corps is. If you complete 45 of 51 passes for 651 yards and eight touchdowns, and you are sacked once (on the opening possession) and never picked off (and you win over Mike Nixon), you are going to end up No. 1 on this list. There's just no way around it. You don't reach those statistical heights by simply playing within a good system or throwing 1-yard passes to the boundary. Smith was incredible in his decision-making, and he was even more incredible in his accuracy. On passes thrown more than 12 yards downfield, Smith was 12-for-14 for 380 yards and five touchdowns. That is absurd. And it gives Smith a pretty big lead in this horse race.


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Up next for Smith: a trip to Texas to face one of perhaps only two Big 12 offenses (along with maybe Kansas State) capable of slowing the Mountaineers down too much. Of course, the 'Horns were just mangled by an Oklahoma State offense starting its backup quarterback. But let's just say this: if Smith is No. 1 on next week's Horse Race list, he will be just about impossible to catch the rest of the way, barring injury.

2. Stephen Morris, Miami

Poor Stephen Morris picked the wrong week to produce a rather silly stat line of his own. In a tight win over N.C. State, Morris completed 26 of 49 passes for five touchdowns, with one interception and one sack. Average yards per pass attempt: 11.0. Now, N.C. State's defense has not been incredible in 2012, but that almost doesn't matter. Like Smith, Morris produced stats so good that it would have gotten him on this list, even if it came against N.C. Central. Miami's defense continues to be problematic (to put it politely), but the offense is producing an entertaining, effective downfield passing attack.

3. Stedman Bailey, West Virginia

4. Terrence Williams, Baylor

It was rather difficult to figure out how to divvy up credit in the WVU-Baylor game. Since Smith was so accurate with his downfield passing, I gave him the lion's share of the glory for WVU's performance, which is rather unfair to Bailey, who caught an absurd 13 of 14 passes for 303 yards and five touchdowns. Williams, meanwhile, was more of a solo act. Bailey shared the spotlight with Tavon Austin (14-for-16, 215 yards) and J.D. Woods (13-for-14, 114 yards), but Williams carried more of the load himself. He caught 17 of 23 passes for 314 yards and two touchdowns, while quarterback Nick Florence completed "only" (ahem) 12 of 24 passes (yes, for 257 yards) to other Baylor receivers. That is the best logic I can use in differentiating these players. They were all outstanding.

5. Damien Holmes, UCLA

Yes, there were some solid defensive performances in Week 5 as well, perhaps none better than Holmes, the UCLA linebacker who logged five tackles for loss and three sacks on admittedly sack-prone Colorado quarterback Jordan Webb. I could be forgetting somebody, but I'm pretty sure this is the first time somebody has logged five stops behind the line this year. For some players, five in a season is pretty impressive.

6. Nick Florence, Baylor

It is rather difficult to pass for 581 yards and five touchdowns and not be seen as the most impressive quarterback in your own game, but such was life for Mr. Florence.

7. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

The redshirt freshman quarterback did more than just make this play...

...but that was a pretty strong description of his full-game effort versus Arkansas' hapless defense: 29-for-38 passing for 453 yards and three touchdowns, plus 14 carries for 104 yards and a touchdown. No sacks, no interceptions, almost no negative yardage whatsoever.

8. Kain Colter, Northwestern

This is the Kain Colter college fans came to know, love and become completely befuddled by in 2011. Colter has spent time as Northwestern's No. 1 quarterback, running back and receiver over the last year and a half, and against Indiana on Saturday, he rushed for 161 yards and four touchdowns and caught nine of 11 passes for 131 yards. That is both unique and really, really good.

9. Dee Milliner, Alabama

Milliner makes his second top-10 appearance with his single-handed shutdown of the Ole Miss passing offense. He picked off one pass, broke up four more, and logged 3.5 tackles, 0.5 behind the line. Because of the pick, he gets the nod over Oregon's Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, who also almost made his second appearance on this list.

10. Tavon Austin, West Virginia

Honestly, Austin should have probably gone a bit higher, but players from other games also deserved some love here, right?

Honorable Mention:

  • Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin (eight targets, seven catches, 142 yards and a touchdown versus Nebraska)
  • Alex Amidon, Boston College (13 targets, eight catches, 193 yards and two touchdowns versus Clemson)
  • David Ash, Texas (30-for-37 passing, 304 yards, three touchdowns, one interception, 7.3 yards per pass attempt versus Oklahoma State; three of his incompletions were drops)
  • Kenjon Barner, Oregon (24 touches, 232 yards, four touchdowns versus Washington State)
  • Giovani Bernard, North Carolina (seven touches, 120 yards, two touchdowns versus Idaho)
  • Tajh Boyd, Clemson (28-for-38, 367 yards, three touchdowns, one interception, 9.0 yards per pass attempt; 10 carries, 58 yards, one touchdown versus Boston College)
  • Rakeem Cato, Marshall (45-for-68, 439 yards, five touchdowns, three interceptions, 6.1 yards per pass attempt versus Purdue)
  • Will Compton, Nebraska (6.5 tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack, two passes broken up versus Wisconsin)
  • Brandin Cooks, Oregon State (12 targets, nine catches, 149 yards versus Arizona)
  • Benny Cunningham, Middle Tennessee (28 touches, 229 yards, five touchdowns versus Georgia Tech)
  • Phillip Dorsett, Miami (15 targets, seven catches, 191 yards, two touchdowns versus N.C. State)
  • Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon (3.5 tackles, four passes broken up versus Washington State)
  • Devonte Fields, TCU (5.5 tackles, four tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, two quarterback hurries versus SMU)
  • Johnathan Franklin, UCLA (19 touches, 159 yards versus Colorado)
  • Mike Glennon, N.C. State (24-for-42, 440 yards, four touchdowns, two interceptions, 9.7 yards per pass attempt versus Miami)
  • DeVonte Holloman, South Carolina (six solo tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack, one interception returned for 25 yards)
  • DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson (14 targets, 11 catches, 197 yards and a touchdown versus Boston College)
  • Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas (6.5 tackles, four tackles for loss, one sack, one forced fumble)
  • Perry Jones, Virginia (26 touches, 182 yards, one passing touchdown versus Louisiana Tech)
  • Khalil Mack, Buffalo (3.5 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack, one forced fumble versus UConn)
  • Keith Marshall, Georgia (11 touches, 179 yards, two touchdowns versus Tennessee)
  • Taylor Martinez, Nebraska (17-for-29 passing, 181 yards, two touchdowns, 5.7 yards per pass attempt; 12 carries, 117 yards, one touchdown versus Wisconsin)
  • Michael Mauti, Penn State (5.0 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks, two interceptions returned for 105 yards versus Illinois)
  • Braxton Miller, Ohio State (16-for-23 passing, 179 yards, one touchdown, one interception, 7.2 yards per pass attempt; 22 carries, 142 yards versus Michigan State)
  • Trent Murphy, Stanford (5.5 tackles, one tackle for loss, one athletic pick six versus Washington)
  • Denzel Nkemdiche, Ole Miss (8.0 tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack, two forced fumbles versus Alabama)
  • Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State (27 touches, 211 yards, two touchdowns versus Texas)
  • Bryn Renner, North Carolina (14-for-19, 231 yards, three touchdowns one interception versus Idaho)
  • Rashaad Reynolds, Oregon State (9.5 tackles, one interception, five passes broken up)
  • Sheldon Richardson, Missouri (7.5 tackles, two tackles for loss, one fumble recovery, two quarterback hurries)
  • Bishop Sankey, Washington (22 touches, 153 yards, one touchdown versus Stanford)
  • Desmond Scott, Duke (12 targets, 11 catches, 134 yards versus Wake Forest)
  • Rashawn Scott, Miami (11 targets, six catches, 180 yards, two touchdowns versus N.C. State)
  • Tommy Shuler, Marshall (21 targets, 19 catches, 200 yards versus Purdue)
  • Kawann Short, Purdue (three solo tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack, one forced fumble, one pass broken up, one blocked kick)
  • Joe Southwick, Boise State (24-for-34, 311 yards, three touchdowns, 8.7 yards per pass attempt versus New Mexico)
  • Steven Terrell, Texas A&M (4.5 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions returned for 58 yards, one forced fumble versus Arkansas)
  • Kyle Van Noy, BYU (2.5 tackles, two tackles for loss, two sacks for 24 yards, one forced fumble, one quarterback hurry versus Hawaii)
  • J.W. Walsh, Oklahoma State (18-for-27, 301 yards, two touchdowns, one interception, 10.0 yards per pass attempt; six carries for 68 yards versus Texas)
  • Mark Weisman, Iowa (24 touches, 189 yards, one touchdown versus Minnesota)
  • Marquess Wilson, Washington State (18 targets, 12 catches, 182 yards, one touchdown versus Oregon)
  • Storm Woods, Oregon State (33 touches, 203 yards, one touchdown versus Arizona)

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2012 Heisman Horse Race Point Totals (Through 4 Weeks)

26 points
Geno Smith, West Virginia

16 points
Stedman Bailey, West Virginia

14 points
Denard Robinson, Michigan

10 points
Jeff Driskel, Florida
Jarvis Jones, Georgia
E.J. Manuel, Florida State

9 points
David Ash, Texas
LeVeon Bell, Michigan State
Braxton Miller, Ohio State
Stephen Morris, Miami
Connor Shaw, South Carolina

8 points
Morgan Breslin, USC
Johnathan Franklin, UCLA
Marqise Lee, USC

7 points
Stefphon Jefferson, Nevada
Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
Aaron Murray, Georgia
Terrance Williams, Baylor

6 points
Kolton Browning, UL Monroe
Cobi Hamilton, Arkansas
Damien Holmes, UCLA
Taylor Martinez, Nebraska
De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon

5 points
Tavon Austin, West Virginia
Tyler Bray, Tennessee
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon
Nick Florence, Baylor
Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
Kyle Van Noy, BYU

4 points
Kenjon Barner, Oregon
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Bjoern Werner, Florida State

3 points
Kain Colter, Northwestern
Brett Hundley, UCLA
Dee Milliner, Alabama
Cordarelle Patterson, Tennessee
Stepfan Taylor, Stanford
Chris Thompson, Florida State

2 points
Andre Ellington, Clemson
Sam Montgomery, LSU
Robert Woods, USC

1 point
Michael Campanaro, Wake Forest

If somebody deserving is blatantly absent from this list, it is quite possibly because of human error. I am not above making changes, so let me know who's missing.

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