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2012 Heisman Horse Race, Week 4: Only the gaudiest survive

College football's fourth Saturday saw a wave of enormous performances and gaudy stat lines.

Melina Vastola-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Week 4 saw so many gaudy stat lines and big-time performances that not even Le'Veon Bell (37 touches for 245 yards) nor Tyler Bray (410 passing yards) could make the Top 10. Meanwhile, Connor Shaw threw but a single incompletion and couldn't even snag the No. 1 spot.

In all, we saw quite a few more first-timers enter the Top 10 this week, so while Geno Smith (an honorable mention finisher this week) continues to lead the horse race (see the bottom of the post), quite a few players could take the lead next week with a spectacular performance, including this week's top dog.

E.J. Manuel: Shutdown Fullback Employee of the Month of the Week

1. E.J. Manuel, Florida State

Perhaps there should be a "Yeah, but they were playing against Clemson's defense" penalty here, but wow, was Manuel impressive in Saturday night's win. His final stat line: 27-for-35 passing, 380 yards, two touchdowns, and 10.3 yards per pass attempt, plus 10 non-sack carries for 112 yards. In such a marquee game, that wins the week.

2. Connor Shaw, South Carolina

Wasn't this guy supposed to have some sort of shoulder injury? After a rough first few weeks to the season, Shaw was spectacular in an easy home win over Missouri. Here's what I said in yesterday's Numerical:

Shaw completed 20 of 21 passes (his only incompletion came in the first drive, like a pitcher who gives up a double with one out in the first inning and pitches a perfect game the rest of the way), and while a majority were dump-offs directed at running back Marcus Lattimore and Justice Cunningham, he was right on the money when he did choose to go downfield as well. It was still a sign that whatever shoulder issues Shaw was experiencing through most of the season's first month are a thing of the past. He looked incredible.

3. Morgan Breslin, USC

I say it every week, but it is difficult to draw too much attention to yourself as a defender because the opportunities for gaudy stats are limited. But each week, somebody pulls it off. In USC's win over California, Breslin was incredible: he racked up 5.5 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and three sacks, and there is a 100-percent chance Cal quarterback Zach Maynard is still having nightmares about the guy who was on him for virtually every play. USC's defensive line may be thin, but it has some pretty significant upside, not least because of the big-play threat Breslin brings each week.

4. Stefphon Jefferson, Nevada

Seven touchdowns. Seven touchdowns! Yes, he also gained 246 yards in 34 touches versus Hawaii, and yes, touchdowns are, in and of themselves, an overrated statistic. But when you score seven of them in one game, you make the Top 5 of this list. There is almost no way around it.

5. Cobi Hamilton, Arkansas

Granted, Arkansas' overall performance versus Rutgers was lackluster, and the Hogs' fall to 1-3 was incredible for all the wrong reasons. But don't blame Cobi Hamilton. Hamilton caught 10 of 14 passes for an absurd 303 yards and three touchdowns. As with Jefferson, Hamilton gets a free pass right into the Top 5 with these numbers.

6. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon

A defender makes one tackle and gets onto this list? Yes, because he only had to make one tackle; he was also the week's best ball magnet, and it wasn't close. With Arizona in great field position in the first quarter following a Marcus Mariota fumble, Ekpre-Olomu intercepted a Matt Scott pass and quashed the threat. Later in the quarter, with Arizona facing third-and-goal from the Oregon 2, Ekpre-Olomu broke up a pass intended for Arizona's Dan Buckner. Oregon stuffed Scott on fourth-and-goal on the next play. And on the second play of the fourth quarter, Ekpre-Olomu slammed the door on the game, picking off Scott and returning the ball 54 yards for a touchdown. For the game, he had the lone tackle, two picks and three passes broken up. He prevented two Arizona scores and directly created one for Oregon. The sophomore was ridiculous. Honestly, you could make a case for him being No. 1 this week.

7. Tavon Austin, West Virginia

WVU actually sent him downfield a bit against Maryland, and it paid off: 17 targets, 13 catches, 179 yards, three touchdowns. In another week, that might earn him the No. 2 or No. 3 spot. Instead, he was a little lucky to get into the Top 10.

8. Chris Thompson, Florida State

E.J. Manuel stole his thunder a bit, but Thompson was also outstanding versus Clemson: He carried the ball 15 times for 103 yards and two touchdowns, and he caught eight of eight passes for 79 yards. And his most impressive run of the game didn't even count.

9. Sam Montgomery, LSU

When I saw that Montgomery logged 3.5 tackles (all for loss), a sack and recorded a safety (in a game LSU won by two, no less), I assumed he would end up the top defender on the list this week. That was not the case. Still ... LSU and its shaky offense might have suffered a serious upset if not for Montgomery and the rest of the ridiculous LSU defensive line.

10. Jarvis Jones, Georgia

The toughest choice of the week was for the No. 10 spot between Jones and Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova. But after seeing Jones wreck shop in person earlier this week, and after knowing how he can single-handedly impact a game, my own bias gave Jones the edge. Jones was near-perfect again in a romp over Vanderbilt; he ended up with 5.5 tackles, three tackles for loss and a sack as the Bulldogs consistently shut Vandy down once the Commodores entered scoring position.

BONUS: Manti Te'o, Notre Dame

Somehow Te'o got deleted from the list as I was compiling it, but he easily had as disruptive a week as Ekpre-Olomu -- 5.5 tackles, one tackle for loss, two interceptions returned for 28 yards, one quarterback hurry -- so he gets a bonus No. 6 slot and five requisite Horse Race points below.

Honorable Mention:

  • Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin (eight targets, six catches, 147 yards, one touchdown versus UTEP)
  • Antonio Andrews, Western Kentucky (20 touches, 210 yards, two touchdowns versus Southern Miss)
  • Anthony Barr, UCLA (seven solo tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks, one forced fumble, one pass broken up)
  • Le'Veon Bell, Michigan State (37 touches, 245 yards versus Eastern Michigan)
  • Chris Borland, Wisconsin (10.0 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, two passes broken up versus UTEP)
  • Tyler Bray, Tennessee (27-for-43, four touchdowns, one interception versus Akron)
  • Kenny Cain, TCU (3.0 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions for 56 yards, one fumble recovery, and one quarterback hurry versus Virginia)
  • Colby Cameron, Louisiana Tech (15-for-22, 284 yards, four touchdowns, 11.3 yards per pass attempt versus Illinois)
  • Brandon Carter, TCU (seven targets, five catches, 128 yards, one touchdown versus Virginia)
  • Anthony Chickillo, Miami (seven solo tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack versus Georgia Tech)
  • Scott Chrichton, Oregon State (six solo tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks, one pass broken up versus UCLA)
  • Brandin Cooks, Oregon State (eight targets, six catches, 175 yards, one touchdown; two carries for 11 yards versus UCLA)
  • Phillip Dorsett, Miami (16 targets, nine catches, 184 yards, one touchdown versus Georgia Tech)
  • Andre Ellington, Clemson (19 touches, 142 yards, two touchdowns versus Florida State)
  • Nick Florence, Baylor (26-for-39, 351 yards, four touchdowns, two interceptions; nine carries for 55 yards versus UL-Monroe)
  • Todd Gurley, Georgia (17 touches, 143 yards, two touchdowns versus Vanderbilt)
  • John Hubert, Kansas State (24 touches, 135 yards, one touchdown versus Oklahoma)
  • Taylor Kelly, Arizona State (19-for-26 passing, 326 yards, three touchdowns, 11.8 yards per pass attempt; six carries for 26 yards versus Utah)
  • Collin Klein, Kansas State (13-for-21 passing, 149 yards; 17 carries, 79 yards, one touchdown versus Oklahoma)
  • Lindsey Lamar, South Florida (16 touches, 135 yards, two touchdowns versus Ball State)
  • Corey Lemonier, Auburn (three solo tackles, two tackles for loss, two sacks, one forced fumble, one quarterback hurry versus LSU)
  • Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina (29 touches, 145 yards, two touchdowns versus Missouri)
  • Colt Lyerla, Oregon (10 touches, 116 yards, one touchdown versus Arizona)
  • Sean Mannion, Oregon State (24-for-35 passing, 379 yards, two touchdowns, one interception, 9.4 yards per pass attempt versus UCLA)
  • Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M (15-for-20 passing, 174 yards, three touchdowns, 7.6 yards per pass attempt; six carries, 84 yards, two touchdowns versus S.C. State)
  • Venric Mark, Northwestern (17 touches, 120 yards, three touchdowns versus South Dakota)
  • Eric Martin, Nebraska (4.0 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks versus Idaho State)
  • Damontre Moore, Texas A&M (six solo tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack versus S.C. State)
  • Stephen Morris, Miami (31-for-52 passing, 436 yards, two touchdowns, one interception versus Georgia Tech)
  • Aaron Murray, Georgia (18-for-24 passing, 250 yards, two touchdowns, 9.8 yards per pass attempt versus Vanderbilt)
  • Gary Nova, Rutgers (25-for-35, 397 yards, five touchdowns, 10.7 yards per pass attempt versus Arkansas)
  • Silas Redd, USC (22 touches, 156 yards, one touchdown versus California)
  • Tevin Reese, Baylor (11 targets, eight catches, 145 yards, two touchdowns versus UL-Monroe)
  • Geno Smith, West Virginia (30-for-43, 338 yards, three touchdowns, 7.0 yards per pass attempt versus Maryland)
  • Willie Snead, Ball State (15 targets, 11 catches, 135 yards, one touchdown versus South Florida)
  • Tino Sunseri, Pittsburgh (18-for-24 passing, 344 yards, two touchdowns, 13.4 yards per pass attempt versus Gardner-Webb)
  • Jared Tevis, Arizona (9.5 tackles, two forced fumbles, two passes broken up versus Oregon)
  • Shadrach Thornton, N.C. State (25 touches, 171 yards, two touchdowns versus The Citadel)
  • Spencer Ware, LSU (18 touches, 134 yards versus Auburn)
  • Mark Weisman, Iowa (27 carries, 217 yards, three touchdowns, every Iowa carry versus Central Michigan)
  • Ty Zimmerman, Kansas State (2.5 tackles, one tackle for loss, one interception, one fumble recovery, two passes broken up versus Oklahoma)


2012 Heisman Horse Race Point Totals (Through 3 Weeks)

16 points: Geno Smith, 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; Connor Shaw, South Carolina

8 points: Stedman Bailey, West Virginia; Morgan Breslin, USC; Johnathan Franklin, UCLA; Marqise Lee, USC

7 points: Stefphon Jefferson, Nevada; Damontre Moore, Texas A&M; Aaron Murray, Georgia

6 points: Kolton Browning, UL Monroe; Cobi Hamilton, Arkansas; Taylor Martinez, Nebraska; De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon

5 points: Tyler Bray, Tennessee; Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon; Manti Te'o, Notre Dame; Kyle Van Noy, BYU

4 points: Tavon Austin, West Virginia; Kenjon Barner, Oregon; Bjoern Werner, Florida State

3 points: Brett Hundley, UCLA; 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; Dee Milliner, Alabama

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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