OK, now that the 2012 Heisman has been decided …
Holy smokes, that was fast. College football’s top individual honor already wrapped up before the calendar even flips to October. That has to be a record, or at least the fastest sure thing since Tim Brown was bolting between Michigan State defenders while returning punts for Notre Dame in 1987 or Ty Detmer was picking apart Miami’s secondary for Brigham Young three years later … or last season when Baylor’s Robert Griffin III was introducing all fans to the wonders of what a truly special athlete can do at quarterback.
Seriously, folks, for all the warnings and admonishing statements we’re about to hear in the coming days about letting things play out this fall, we need to keep it real. This race, this “marathon” to cover three months has been consolidated into a sprint … and it’s over.
Geno Smith, West Virginia senior quarterback, congratulations – it’s all yours, big fella. You can pick up your gift package in December.
Unless he caves in cataclysmic fashion during legend-building propositions at No. 12 Texas next week and against No. 7 Kansas State, No. 15 Texas Christian and No. 16 Oklahoma between now and when the voting stops, Smith has secured his spot among the sport’s most memorable of all time with an early-season tour de force that has surpassed all others’ efforts, including those by Brown, Detmer and even Griffin. Saturday’s 45-for-51, 656-yard, 8-TD, no-INT outing in a70-63 victory against Baylor, of all teams, may not turn out to be just best singular effort to come out of 2012, but rather the all-time signature performance on the BCS era.
Only Vince Young’s 2006 Rose Bowl – 267 yards passing, 200 rushing and three TD scores, including the game-winning jaunt to beat Southern Cal – can compare, and that’s with the setting and stakes fueling much of the argument.
Thing is, Smith is making the game look so easy right now, you almost wonder how Griffin, um, struggled so much up to this point last fal. Through four games, the poor guy “only” had completed 82.1 percent of his pass attempts for 1,481 yards and 18 TDs … and, jeez, he even had an interception. Plus, his team had lost once. That all seems so pedestrian when stacked up against Smith’s line:
– 83.4 completion percentage, 1,728 yards, 20 TDs, 0 picks … and WVU is 4-0.
All kidding aside, after we all were wowed into submission by RG3’s 2011 campaign, did we ever think we’d come across such an insane combination of efficiency and electricity? Let us try a show of hands, please …
Yeah, right, put ’em down.
What Smith has done thus far is remarkable to say the least, and what he produced against No. 25 Baylor, which has proven to be no pushover despite RG3’s departure, was pure mind-boggling stuff.
The kind you never forget … even should he have a bad game or two the rest of the way and, say, the currently ninth-ranked Mountaineers drop out of the top 10.
IF YOU MUST …
There are candidates who will remain alive aside from Smith in the Heisman hunt, if only in theory or propaganda, throughout October and November. That being said, FSU quarterback EJ Manuel deserved mention with how well he is playing and how he has the Seminoles back in the national spotlight. He also has the second-best individual effort on the board thus far, with last weekend’s 482-yard, two-TD dual-threat destructo act on Clemson in a battle of top 10 squads from the ACC.
A de facto wild-card, if you will, to keep in the back of your mind would be Oregon State QB Sean Mannion. He is posting bigger and better numbers each week while leading the Beavers out of the abyss and into a new stratosphere in the Pac-12, even raising a few eyebrows outside of the West Coast. On Saturday night, he rescued unbeaten and 18th-ranked OSU’s rebirth with 433 yards and three TDs passing, including the game-winner with just 69 seconds left to play.
But the prize, clearly, is Smith’s to lose at this point … and his play has been so spectacular up to now, that doesn’t even seem a remote possibility.
Kudos to Penn State coach Bill O’Brien. Weathering an impossible storm compounded by player defections and two gut-wrenching losses to start the season, the first-year head coach has the Nittany Lions on a three-game winning streak right now and, quite frankly, looking like the best team in the Big Ten.
Yes, Ohio State fans, that factors in your beloved Buckeyes, who stand at 5-0 overall … and have a propensity to show that classic athletic art form of “winning ugly.”