Heisman Trophy 2012: Comparing Johnny Manziel to Collin Klein

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterNovember 16, 2012

Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel
Texas A&M QB Johnny ManzielRonald Martinez/Getty Images

Three months ago, Johnny Manziel had just beaten out Jameill Showers to become Texas A&M's starting quarterback for the 2012 Aggies.

It was a relatively big announcement by preseason standards, but considering A&M's reputation for throwing games away, a new staff and a much tougher conference, you would have been laughed out of the room if you said that Manziel would be in the Heisman Trophy discussion.

Three months, eight wins, 33 touchdowns and 3,794 yards later, Manziel is a full-fledged Heisman candidate, complete with his own school-sponsored web page and hype video.

Standing in his way, however, is Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein.

Klein has held the title of "Heisman front-runner" ever since Geno Smith's West Virginia Mountaineers got blown out 49-14 at Texas Tech, but Manziel is gaining ground. 

This brings up the question: How do the two quarterbacks match up against each other?

Clay Travis of OutKickTheCoverage does a great job comparing the statistics of the two signal-callers.

Manziel has more passing yards (2,780 to 2,025), rushing yards (1,014 to 753) and touchdowns (33 to 31) than Klein. The Texas A&M quarterback is 34 spots ahead of Klein in the nation's total offense ranking (379.4 YPG to 277.8 YPG), and has played three of the top five defenses in the country, while Klein has played three in the top 25.

But oftentimes, stats can be bent to fit a predetermined narrative. 

Klein is much more efficient than Manziel (167.65 to 151.17 passer rating) and his three interceptions are three fewer than Manziel. 

Oh, and there's also the fact that Klein's team is 10-0 and ranked No. 1 in the country.

The Heisman is an individual award, and should be judged accordingly. But if we are picking the "most outstanding player in college football, his performance relative to his team's overall success must be considered.

Whether you're buying the Manziel hype or staying strong in Klein's camp, there's no doubt that these two players are putting together historically successful seasons.

When you compare the two quarterbacks to the seasons that Heisman winners Cam Newton and Tim Tebow posted in 2010 and 2007, respectively, the results are impressive.

Manziel has all of the momentum, but there's something to be said for winning games, especially when evaluating quarterbacks.

I vote in Athlon Sports' weekly Heisman survey, and had Klein over Manziel this week, even after Johnny Football's heroics in the Aggies' 29-24 win over the Crimson Tide last weekend.

That is, of course, subject to change.

Every season is different. While Robert Griffin III only won nine regular season games in 2011 and Tebow only won nine in 2007, that doesn't ensure that there's a precedent for Manizel winning, especially considering Klein is putting up relatively similar numbers.

It will be interesting to see how voters respond, and whether video game numbers outweigh the ultimate stat—wins.

Whether it's Manziel, Klein or somebody else who leaves New York City with college football's most prestigious award, you can rest assured that the winner will have posted one of the most remarkable seasons in recent college football history.