Heisman race all shook up after slew of Saturday upsets
Geno Smith still the strong leader, but rest of the field struggling.
|Aaron Murray 's Heisman hopes got sacked on Saturday (Getty Images)|
The Heisman Trophy race looks a lot different after Saturday.
Not at the top, mind you. Geno Smith still maintains a huge edge over his nearest competitor after throwing for 268 yards and four touchdowns in West Virginia Cavaliers 's exciting 48-45 win over Texas Longhorns in Austin. If the vote for the trophy was held today, he'd win by one of the biggest landslides in Heisman history.
While Smith's candidacy is in tip-top shape, it's the rest of the field that has been decimated.
Florida Gators State quarterback EJ Manuel ? He's out of contention after his team's 17-16 upset at the hands of North Carolina Tar Heels Sate.
Georgia Bulldogs 's Aaron Murray? His campaign is dead and buried after South Carolina Gamecocks whipped the Bulldogs, 35-7.
Neither Murray nor Manuel are known for producing Smith-like numbers, so both needed to be on national title-contending teams to have a shot at the Heisman. That's not going to happen now.
That means the field of candidates who can actually win the Heisman has narrowed considerably. As long as Smith keeps playing at this amazing level, he's the man to beat, but voters will now start to take a hard look at Collin Klein , Braxton Miller, De'Anthony Thomas and David Ash (just in case Smith falters).
Meanwhile, a slew of new candidates could be emerging as attractive alternatives, including freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron , Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Manti Te'o and West Virginia Mountaineers wide out Tavon Austin . While none of these players are threats to actually win the Heisman, they still have the potential to garner enough support to affect the outcome of the race.
In the meantime, this remains Smith's race to lose. I don't expect his status as the overwhelming front runner to be challenged until October 20, when his Mountaineers take on Klein's Northwestern Wildcats in Morgantown in what could be a battle of top-5 teams.
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