|Manti Te'o and Notre Dame take on Stanford in our Heisman game of the week. (US Presswire)|
At first glance, we're tempted to say that this week's Heisman schedule isn't very compelling.
Of course, every time we think that, college football has a way of making us look very foolish. It's these kind of low-key weeks that somehow tend to provide the most excitement.
Once this weekend passes, we'll be at the midway point in this year's quest for the Heisman. I don't think much will change in the race come Monday, which means Geno Smith should remain the strong favorite heading into the season's second half.
But stranger things have happened. Remember, this is college football.
If you want to be plugged into the Heisman race, here are the games to watch this weekend:
No. 6 Kansas State at Iowa State -- Could this be a trap game for Collin Klein and Kansas State? A huge matchup with West Virginia looms next weekend and the Cyclones aren't a pushover by any means. Keep an eye on this one in the early going for any signs of complacency on the part of the Wildcats. If Klein gets through this game with some good production and his team wins, he'll have momentum heading into Morgantown next Saturday. An upset loss would be devastating not only to his team, but to his Heisman hopes.
No. 15 Texas vs. No. 13 Oklahoma -- Once upon a time this game looked to be a good setting for Landry Jones to make his Heisman case. Jones is no longer on the radar for the trophy, but Texas quarterback David Ash is lingering around the edges of the conversation. Beating Oklahoma in a tradition-rich rivalry like this one is always something that voters appreciate. Ash would have to have his best game against the Sooners to make much of a difference in the race, though.
No. 5 West Virginia at Texas Tech -- Much of our focus at this point on Smith has to do with whether he can maintain his incredible production. He'll be tested this weekend against what has been, statistically, the best passing defense in the country in the season's first half. Lots of questions come to mind: Can Smith get out of this one without an interception? Will he revert to being normal a bit in such categories as completion percentage and touchdowns? Will the Mountaineers be tired and unfocused after back-to-back trips to Texas? Will this game with Texas Tech, sandwiched between the Texas and K-State games, have the potential to turn ugly for West Virginia? Tune in to find out.
No. 8 Ohio State at Indiana -- Urban Meyer said this past week that it's too early to consider Braxton Miller a Heisman candidate. He's wrong, of course, and the Indiana game is a great chance for Miller to juice his numbers in anticipation of a strong second-half run at the trophy. I expect him to put up another 300-plus yards or total offense and account for at least four touchdowns against the Hoosiers.
HEISMAN GAME OF THE WEEK
No. 17 Stanford at No. 7 Notre Dame -- This is our Heisman game of the week even though I guarantee that no one playing in this game will win this year's trophy. Irish linebacker Manti Te'o has been building real momentum as a dark-horse candidate, however, and there's a chance that he'll be able to garner enough support to get to New York as a finalist. I think that this game against Stanford will serve as one of his best opportunities to make his case as to why he deserves consideration. So he'll need to impress with some game-changing, highlight-reel plays. If he is seen as the catalyst behind another impressive Notre Dame win, then he'll head into the season's second half as the defender with the best chance to crack the top five of the Heisman vote.