Halfway through the season, there is widespread disagreement over which teams are going to make it to the BCS title game in Miami.
That's not the case when it comes to the quest for the 2012 Heisman Trophy.
West Virginia's Geno Smith is the leader in the race for the bronze statue thanks to an almost-perfect first half of the season. The senior from Miramar, Fla., threw for 2,271 yards and 25 touchdowns with no interceptions in his first six games. The one black mark? A mediocre outing against a fired-up Texas Tech team that routed the Mountaineers, 49-14.
What is the outlook for the second half of the season? Can Smith be caught by his competition? Will another darkhorse candidate make a late-breaking run at the Heisman as in recent years?
Here's what to look for the rest of the way:
Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia -- The odds-on favorite at this point, but his first half ended on a down note. To win, he must maintain his incredible stats pace while ensuring that his team doesn't collapse under the weight of its Big 12 schedule.
Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State -- The sentimental favorite; the MVP, grind-it-out type who wills his team to victory. Probably needs to lead K-State to an undefeated season or, at minimum, a Big 12 title to have a shot at overtaking Smith.
Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State -- The rising superstar on the traditional power who personifies the style of the Big Ten's new sheriff in town, Urban Meyer. Like Klein, he needs his team to run the table to have a real shot at the trophy, unless Smith's candidacy takes some more hits.
The Dark Horses
De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon -- A deliciously entertaining player to watch who nonetheless shows no signs of becoming a dominant force anytime soon. He can score from any point on the field at any time, but he doesn't get the ball very much. He'll need to rip the heart out of USC in the Coliseum on November 3 to make a late charge of it.
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M -- Perhaps the biggest surprise in the first half of the season. Hamstrung by the Heisman electorate's anti-freshman bias, but he could turn that on its head with big games against LSU and Alabama.
|Matt Barkley has been a Heisman flop(US Presswire)|
The First-Half Flops
The Most Important Heisman Games
Kansas State at West Virginia, Oct. 20 -- Collin Klein vs. Geno Smith for Big 12 Heisman supremacy. If K-State loses, it might knock Klein out of the race. Smith can survive a loss if he plays well, but voters will demand at least one more heroic performance the rest of the way before giving him the trophy.
LSU at Texas A&M, Oct. 20 -- The trajectory of the race changes for good and bedlam ensues if Manziel helps knock off the Tigers.
Oregon at USC, Nov. 3 -- Thomas must have a huge game in a win against the Trojans to get back in the good graces of the voters. An electrifying punt or kick return against USC would help his candidacy the most.
Kansas State at TCU, Nov. 10 -- If K-State gets by West Virginia, TCU might be the only team standing in the way of an undefeated season for the Wildcats. A win over the Horned Frogs could also signal a Heisman for Klein.
Texas A&M at Alabama, Nov. 10 -- Beating Alabama would make up for a loss to LSU and send Manziel to New York as a finalist. Of course, if a win over LSU is already in pocket, a win over Alabama would probably clinch the trophy no matter what the other candidates do.
Oklahoma at West Virginia, Nov. 17 -- A WVU takedown of OU could clinch the Heisman for Smith the same way Robert Griffin III did against the Sooners last season. Of course, OU could spoil his plans, too.
Michigan at Ohio State, Nov. 24 -- This is Miller's last chance to make his case to the voters. A huge game against Ohio State's traditional rival would leave a lasting impression.
Numbers to Watch
50 -- As in the number of total touchdowns Smith needs to secure the Heisman. Why 50? That's roughly the average total touchdown production of the last four Heisman-winning quarterbacks. Smith's total after six games: 26 (25 pass, 1 run). Manziel's totals: 24 (14 pass, 10 run).
12 -- As in the number of games Smith, Klein and Miller will play before the Heisman vote is due. Fears that Ohio State's exclusion from a potential berth in a Big Ten title game will hurt Miller are largely unfounded since it won't leave him at a statistical disadvantage in comparison to his competitors.
3,000/1,000 -- Only four players have ever passed for 3,000 yards and rushed for 1,000 in the same eason. Manziel is on pace to be the first to do so as a freshman....in the SEC.
2 -- The number of Heisman voting regions where Geno Smith will be a favorite son. His school is located physically in the Mid-Atlantic region, but he'll play four games in the Southwest region. Being a well-known commodity to media in two different regions could be crucial in a close vote.
926 -- The total number of Heisman voters spread out across the six regions.
1989 -- The only time the Heisman has been won by a player from a team banned from the postseason. Andre Ware did so for a 9-2 Houston squad that was still a member of the Southwest Conference.
2 -- The number of players named 'Smith' who have won the Heisman.
5 -- The number of years in a row the final Heismanpundit/CBSSports.com Heisman Straw Poll has been the most accurate Heisman poll. Last season, it correctly picked the top seven finishers in the Heisman vote. The moral of this point: Keep an eye on this poll (released every Tuesday here at CBSSports.com) if you want to know what the Heisman electorate is thinking.
7 -- The total number of Heismans won by Ohio State.
0 -- The total number of Heismans won by West Virginia, Kansas State and Oregon.
Start getting that tux ready for New York
Smith, Klein, Miller
Five others who have a chance to get invited
Manziel, Thomas, Manti Te'o, EJ Manuel, Denard Robinson
|Braxton Miler is the front runner for 2013(US Presswire)|
Sitting pretty for next year
4. Marcus Mariota, Oregon