Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o is still a distant runner-up.
But that’s about all that stayed the same in the Heisman race last week. Behind the top two contenders, everyone else bounced up and down the public-perception rankings like ping pong balls.
ESPN currently ranks Oregon running back Kenjon Barner third, Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron fourth and Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller fifth.
HeismanPundit.com ranks USC receiver Marquis Lee third, while West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith and Miller are tied for fourth.
What do these differing opinions mean for Klein at the top of the award hunt? Not much – yet. But with Te’o going up against soft opponents the next three games, this is everyone else’s chance to move into position for a late charge. Oregon, USC, K-State and Alabama all play in primetime tonight. This could be a big day for more Heisman movement.
ESPN Heisman expert Joe Tessitore says it will be hard for anyone to catch Klein. He thinks Te’o can do it — “He’s not going away” — but it would take a phenomenal final game against USC, better than the one he had against Oklahoma. Everyone else needs to keep winning, keep putting up big numbers and hope Klein has an off day. That seems to be the only thing that can truly open up the Heisman race.
“Even though Klein has built up this big lead you don’t want to see him have his down game late,” Tessitore said. “You never want to give voters an excuse to look elsewhere right before they vote.
“Heisman voting works a lot like the top 25 polls now. Based on outcomes of any given week, you can be looking pretty and then be down in the dumps.”