Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel stirs the Heisman pot

Johnny Heisman? Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel (2) - a.k.a. "Johnny Football" - starred in the upset of Alabama. GARY COSBY JR / The Decatur Daily
Johnny Heisman? Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel (2) - a.k.a. "Johnny Football" - starred in the upset of Alabama. GARY COSBY JR / The Decatur Daily
Posted: November 17, 2012

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel put a charge into what had been a rather humdrum Heisman Trophy watch with his outstanding performance last week in the Aggies' 29-24 upset of Alabama.

Kansas State QB Collin Klein remains ahead of Manziel and everyone else for now, but mainly because the Wildcats have remained unbeaten and on track for the BCS championship game.

There's still room, however, for the unconventional pick - such as Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o. If Te'o can put on a dominating performance next week at Southern California, voters will have to consider him.

And yes, we know the trophy's namesake was former Penn player and coach John (Don't Call Me Johnny) Heisman.

The dreaded FCS

A notable feature of Saturday's schedule is that seven SEC teams, including five members of the current BCS top 10, will face off against opponents from the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA).

The excuse, er, reason is because teams such as Alabama (vs. Auburn), Georgia (vs. Georgia Tech) and Florida (vs. Florida State) all have rivalry games next weekend and apparently don't want to expend too much energy or risk injury to star players.

Those three teams will be donating up to $500,000 to the coffers of the grateful FCS foes for the opportunity.

Let the boredom ensue!

No sword for you

Fans of Southern California are having a hard time getting over the fact that officials from UCLA have requested that the Trojan mascot not plant his sword at midfield of the Rose Bowl - on the UCLA logo - prior to the game. It's really much ado about nothing, especially since USC agreed to the request.

What fans of the Trojans should be worried about is that UCLA is pretty good. The Bruins' redshirt freshman quarterback, Brett Hundley, has averaged more than 301 yards of total offense - more than USC's Matt Barkley - and has similar passing-efficiency numbers to the preseason Heisman favorite.

Stanford won't duck

While USC and UCLA decide the Pac-12 South champion, top-ranked Oregon will try to punch its ticket in the North for the conference title game and keep its BCS hopes alive.

But Stanford is no pushover, especially now that redshirt freshman quarterback Kevin Hogan has invigorated its offense and goes against a Ducks defense that is banged-up.

The key will be the matchup between the Cardinal's rush defense, which leads all FBS teams in rush defense with 58.6 yards allowed per game, and the Ducks' rushing attack, which has rolled up an average of 325 yards. Oregon's Kenjon Barner has gained 1,360 yards on the ground.

Bowl teams wanted

With Penn State and Ohio State sitting out the bowl season because of sanctions, the Big Ten already is hurting for teams to contribute to its usually large postseason revenue pie.

The conference, which had 10 bowl teams last season, only has five bowl-eligibles as weekend play begins. While Michigan State (5-5) still can get to six wins, and three other teams have a slim chance, it just hasn't been a good season. The Big Ten finished 26-14 in nonconference games, including 2-8 against Notre Dame plus teams from the SEC, Big 12, and Pac-12.

And three of those losses (ouch!) came against Mid-American Conference opponents.

Hello, friends

The rivalry between Ohio State and Wisconsin has been building in recent years, but gas was thrown on the fire last February when Badgers coach Bret Bielema accused Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer of stealing his oral commitments.

Both men have downplayed the accusation. But a degree of enmity continues as the two teams prepare to meet Saturday.

Ohio State wide receiver and Cardinal O'Hara graduate Corey Brown told the Associated Press, "I don't want to go on record as saying that I hate Wisconsin more than Michigan - but I hate Wisconsin just as much as Michigan."

Worth watching

If you get ESPN3 on your electronic device, you may want to push away from the television around 4 p.m. to watch a terrific matchup between the unstoppable offense of No. 19 Louisiana Tech and the granitelike defense of Utah State.

The Bulldogs put up 576.5 yards of offense and 53.4 points per game, having topped 50 in eight of their last 10 games.

The Aggies defense is ranked in the top 20 nationally in five different categories, including sixth in points allowed with an average of 13.5 points. It will have its hands full with Tech quarterback Colby Cameron, who has not thrown an interception in 403 pass attempts this season.

Expat of the week

Sherard Cadogan, a 6-foot-3, 232-pound fullback from Camden Catholic, has seen spot duty as a redshirt sophomore for Wisconsin. Cadogan and Derek Watt have been lead blockers for Montee Ball, who rushed for 198 of the Badgers' 564 yards last week against Indiana and scored his 77th career touchdown, one off the NCAA FBS record.

The ground game should be busy again against undefeated Ohio State.


Games of the Week

Top Choice

Stanford at Oregon, 8 p.m., 6ABC: This is the first of three obstacles remaining for the Ducks to reserve their place in the BCS championship game, and it's a very difficult one. Oregon redshirt freshman QB Marcus Mariota is the nation's leading passer, with 28 touchdowns, in guiding the nation's most high-powered offense. The Cardinal average 17.2 points allowed per game, but you wonder if they can slow down the Ducks.

Pick Six

Rutgers at Cincinnati, noon, LiveWell: Louisville's loss put the Scarlet Knights in the driver's seat for the Big East title and an automatic bowl bid - but they start a rigorous late-season schedule with the Bearcats.

Southern California at UCLA, 3 p.m., Fox29: The Trojans have defeated their crosstown rivals in 12 of the last 13 seasons, but the Bruins are ranked higher this time around and playing with more confidence.

Ohio State at Wisconsin, 3:30 p.m., 6ABC: The ill feelings that surfaced during a recruiting dispute between the head coaches look to have spread to the players. It should be an intense game.

Mississippi at Louisiana State, 3:30 p.m., CBS3: The Tigers are clinging to a faint hope of being the West Division representative in the SEC championship game in the event of a three-way tie.

Wake Forest at Notre Dame, 3:30 p.m., NBC10: The Fighting Irish will try to avoid thinking ahead to next week's showdown at Southern Cal and make their home finale a memorable one.

Kansas State at Baylor, 8 p.m., ESPN: Wildcats quarterback Collin Klein has to be licking his lips at the prospect of going against a Bears defense that allows nearly 520 yards and 42 points per game.

- Joe Juliano


The Real Top 10

1. Oregon 10-0

2. Kansas State 10-0

3. Notre Dame 10-0

4. Alabama 9-1

5. Ohio State 10-0

6. Georgia 9-1

7. Florida 9-1

8. Louisiana State 8-2

9. Texas A&M 8-2

10. Clemson 9-1

- Joe Juliano


Contact Joe Juliano at jjuliano@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @joejulesinq.

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