|Johnny Manziel is peaking at the right time. (US Presswire)|
Texas A&M freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel heads into the final weekend of the season as the strong favorite to win the 2012 Heisman Trophy, according to the latest HeismanPundit/CBSSports.com Heisman Straw Poll released on Tuesday.
Manziel totaled 27 points and collected eight first-place votes from the 11-member panel of Heisman voters from around the country. It's the second-straight week he's been atop the poll and he's peaking at the right time. Heisman votes are due Monday, and the trophy will be awarded Dec. 8.
"With his season complete, I'm not sure how anyone else is going to catch him," said one voter. "He's had an incredible year, and I think he's more than worthy of the award."
"Te'o is the heart and soul of that Notre Dame team," said a voter.
Te'o has a good chance to claim the highest finish by a pure defensive player since Hugh Green of Pittsburgh finished second in 1980. No pure defender has ever won the award.
After Te'o, there is a huge drop off in support, which lends credence to the notion that one or two invites to New York could still be up for grabs.
Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller is third with five points and one first-place vote, USC receiver Marqise Lee is fourth with four points plus a first-place vote, and Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein is fifth with three points. Klein is the only player in the top five with a game left to play as K-State takes on Texas on Saturday.
A total of 11 players appeared on ballots this week, reflecting the general uncertainty in the race at the moment (except at the top).
Now in its seventh season, the former HeismanPundit.com Heisman Straw Poll has been reborn as the HeismanPundit/CBSSports.com Heisman Straw Poll. It has been the most accurate Heisman poll in the country during the last five seasons, with the final 2011 poll correctly picking the top seven finishers. It is made up of 11 Heisman voters from across the country. They vote for three players each week. Tabulations are made on a 3-2-1 basis (just like a real Heisman ballot) with three points awarded for a first-place vote, two points for a second-place vote and one point for a third-place vote.
Each week's poll is released on Tuesdays throughout the season at CBSSports.com and at HeismanPundit.com. Check out previous polls for this season here.
The HeismanPundit/CBSSports.com Heisman Straw Poll, 11-27-2012
Player, total points (first-place votes in parentheses)
5. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State -- 3
7. (tie) Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia -- 1
About the Voting Panel
The 11 members of the panel include: Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel, Tom Dienhart of The Big Ten Network, Michael Lev of the Orange County Register, Bruce Feldman and Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com, Bryan Fischer of the Pac-12 Network, Dick Weiss of the New York Daily News, Lenn Robbins of the New York Post, Jenni Carlson of The Daily Oklahoman and Dave Hackenberg of the Toledo Blade. Chris Huston, CBSSports.com Heisman analyst and publisher of HeismanPundit.com, coordinates and also votes in the weekly poll.
Past 2012 Poll Leaders
Preseason, Matt Barkley
Sept. 4, Matt Barkley
Sept. 11, Matt Barkley
Sept. 18, Geno Smith
Sept. 25, Geno Smith
Oct. 2, Geno Smith
Oct. 9, Geno Smith
Oct. 16, Geno Smith
Oct. 23, Collin Klein
Oct. 30, Collin Klein
Nov. 6, Collin Klein
Nov. 13, Collin Klein
Nov. 20, Johnny Manziel