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Heisman Preview: What to look for, Week 14

By Chris Huston | College Football Writer
Collin Klein needs to bounce back strong against Texas if he wants to make it to New York for the Heisman ceremony. (US Presswire)

It's been a while since the last weekend of college football promised so little drama with regard to the Heisman race.

On 2011's last weekend, Robert Griffin III went 15 of 22 for 320 yards and two touchdowns, with two more scores on the ground, in Baylor's 48-24 win over Texas. Griffin's performance against the highly-rated Longhorns defense served as the capper to his campaign and helped him hold onto a slim Heisman victory over Andrew Luck.

In 2010, Cam Newton threw for 335 yards and four touchdowns and added two more touchdowns rushing to lead Auburn over South Carolina 56-17 in the SEC title game. The dominant performance on the season's final Saturday put the Tigers into the BCS title game and helped make Newton's Heisman win a fait accompli.

In 2009, Mark Ingram rushed for 113 yards and three touchdowns to lead Alabama to a 32-13 win over Florida, helping him clinch his school's first Heisman in what turned out to be the closest vote in the history of the award.

And Sam Bradford's 384 yards and two touchdowns against Missouri in 2008's Big 12 title game boosted the Oklahoma sophomore's hard-fought Heisman win over Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow.

You'd have to go all the way back to 2007 to find a final college football weekend that didn't have much of a bearing on the final result of the Heisman race. That was the year Tebow won the trophy and, with his Gators knocked out of contention for the SEC title game, he essentially wrapped up the honor by Nov. 24.

This year feels pretty much the same. Front runner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M won't play on Saturday, nor will Manti Te'o of Notre Dame, Braxton Miller of Ohio State, Marqise Lee of USC, Kenjon Barner of Oregon and a bunch of other players who have been bandied about in this year's Heisman conversation.

So while the final weekend of the 2012 season may be a glorious one for college football and have a lasting impact on which team wins the BCS title, it is unlikely it will make much of a difference on the outcome of this year's Heisman race.

That said, here are the games you should keep an eye on if you care about the Heisman:

No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Georgia -- No one who plays in this very important game is going to win the Heisman, but that doesn't mean it can't have a bearing on the final vote. Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray leads the nation in passing efficiency and has an outside chance at making it to New York if he comes up big while carrying the Bulldogs to a win over the Tide. A huge performance by linebacker Jarvis Jones could make Manti Te'o's case as the nation's best defender seem a bit spurious. And Alabama's AJ McCarron could once again remind voters he's the glue holding the defending national champion together.

Using a little bit of logic, it stands to reason the player who comes out of this shining the brightest is most likely to take votes away from Manziel, since some voters in the South region of the Heisman electorate might drop him down a peg or two as a result. But the more likely result is that the player emerging the strongest from this encounter will hurt candidates from outside the region more. A Southern voter with a current ballot of (1) Manziel (2) Te'o (3) Klein might be more inclined to put, say, a triumphant Murray in the second or third spot before it's all said and done. Another factor to note is the setup for next season. Murray (if he returns), McCarron, TJ Yeldon, Eddie Lacy, Todd Gurley or Keith Marshall could all use this game as a springboard for a run at the Heisman in 2013.

HEISMAN GAME OF THE WEEK -- No. 23 Texas at No. 7 Kansas State

But for Kansas State's debacle in Waco a couple of Saturdays ago, this game would have served as the informal coronation of Collin Klein as the 2012 Heisman winner. As it stands, he'll need to play well and lead the Wildcats to a win just to assure his journey to New York as a finalist. I can't foresee any likely circumstance by which Klein can use this game to vault over Manziel in the final voting. It might require that Klein produce 300-plus passing yards and a combined seven touchdowns, with the final one being a dramatic last-second game winner, for voters to be shaken from their Johnny Football-induced stupor. Perhaps leading K-State to an unexpected Big 12 title and a top-five finish will be enough to sway a large chunk of voters, but I doubt it. Klein will have to be satisfied with becoming a Heisman finalist. Of course, a loss by K-State would further jumble the race down the ballot. It might open the door for Miller, Lee, Murray or McCarron to sneak their way to an invite. Whatever the case, I don't expect either outcome to prevent Manziel from making history on Dec. 8.

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