Heisman Watch Week 10: Barner’s big day is weekend’s best
Even before leaving Saturday’s game with an injury, Collin Klein had racked up more than 300 yards in offense and had rushed for a touchdown. No matter, as Kansas State had already piled up on Oklahoma State — leading 38-17 — with Klein already having put together a strong day.
Of course, the injury weighs heavily on the minds of Kansas State fans and any Heisman prognosticators and voters, but without knowing much about Klein’s outlook, Saturday proved a strong, consistent showing for the trophy’s front-runner.
In a loss, the stat stuffer Geno Smith returned for West Virginia, throwing for three touchdowns and nearly 300 yards in the Mountaineers loss to TCU on Saturday. Sure, it wasn’t the kind of performance that brought Smith to the front of the Heisman race earlier in the year, but it was a strong performance nonetheless.
Smith also accounted for 28 yards on the ground, but the truth is that Smith is not a strong Heisman candidate without a winning team behind him. Losses piling up mean less national attention for Smith, and in turn, less chance at the award.
A school record rushing day proved just the boost Kenjon Barner needed in this Heisman race, as the Oregon running back had the performance of the weekend — rushing for 321 yards and five touchdowns.
Barner’s Heisman candidacy had been a slow burning flame that had begun to grow in the last few weeks, especially after teammate De’Anthony Thomas slowed down his production, but Saturday was all Barner’s. Now with 19 rushing touchdowns and 1,238 yards rushing on the season, Barner has certainly positioned himself well in the Heisman race.
Notre Dame was on the wire on Saturday against Pittsburgh, and needed three overtimes to put the Panthers away. But through it all, Manti Te’o was there when needed, once again, contributing eight tackles and two sacks as part of Notre Dame’s key 29-26 victory. Clearly, Te’o continues to be a key force in the Irish defensive attack, and is still a key player as the Heisman race enters its final stretch here at the end of the season.
Against Illinois, Braxton Miller clearly did not need to submit his best performance of the season — and did not — but was still able to post a strong day during the first weekend of November, as the Heisman race enters its final stretch. Throwing for two touchdowns and rushing for one more, Miller also accounted for nearly 300 yards of offense while leading Ohio State to yet another victory.
In the face of sanctions holding the Buckeyes out of postseason play, Miller’s performance is all the more admirable, and all the more reason for the quarterback to be among the Heisman hopefuls as we enter the season’s final stretch.
On The Radar:
The wide receiver had two more touchdowns and 157 receiving yards against Oregon, but the effort came in a loss. Could a sophomore really make noise in this race on a three- or four-loss team?
Heisman moments are difficult to come by. But AJ McCarron might have had one against LSU, driving his team for the winning touchdown on Saturday to keep Alabama’s undefeated season alive. Could that be the moment he needed to solidify a spot in the trophy’s race?
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