2012 Heisman watch: Johnny Manziel, Manti Te'o emerge as Colin Klein, Kenjon Barner falter

Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE

Johnny Manziel and Manti Te'o are suddenly the top Heisman Trophy contenders as both Colin Klein and Kenjon Barner came up short on Saturday night.

It wasn't a good week to be a Heisman Trophy candidate.

Who's slipping

The 2012 Heisman Trophy looked like it was going to fall right into the lap of Collin Klein after his impressive performance through 11 weeks of the college football season. But everything unraveled in Waco when Kansas State fell, 52-24, to Baylor. Klein threw for 286 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 39 yards and another score, but also threw three interceptions and was generally ineffective against a Baylor defense that had the worst total defense in the country.


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Kenjon Barner of Oregon also struggled. After exploding against USC, Barner registered fewer than 100 yards from scrimmage for the second straight game, rushing for 66 yards and managing one catch for 13 yards. Barner's once-promising Heisman campaign is pretty much done unless he can somehow rebound, Oregon finds a way to the Pac-12 title game, and Barner dominates both games.

Who's holding steady

Marqise Lee of the USC Trojans has been putting up great performances almost every week. He registered over 180 all-purpose yards against UCLA and has almost 1,300 all-purpose yards over the last four weeks. However, USC keeps on losing (the Trojans are 1-3 despite Lee's brilliance), which will hurt his chances at winning the whole deal.

Who's rising

So who didn't lose? Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M had an easy game of it after his huge victory in Alabama, battering Sam Houston State for 267 yards and three touchdowns through the air while adding 100 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Unfortunately, it's only Sam Houston State, so Manziel isn't going to get a huge bounce. (Also, we learned he can't kick.)

Manti Te'o of Notre Dame had another impressive performance, registering six tackles in a 38-0 shutout performance of Wake Forest. Te'o's candidacy has never looked stronger, and a win over USC to cap off an undefeated season might make enough of a difference for him to win the award.

Braxton Miller of Ohio State remains a dark horse candidate as the Buckeyes remain undefeated. Miller didn't do much, rushing for 48 yards and passing for 97, but Ohio State did win, and the Buckeyes are one win away from a perfect season.

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