Contrary to how it might look, The Oklahoman's Heisman Trophy voters weren't copying off each other's ballots. All four of them voted independent of one another — and all four of them voted for Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o.
Will he be able to beat out Heisman front-runner and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel?
We'll have to wait and see during the Heisman ceremony at 7 p.m. Saturday.
MIKE BALDWIN, BIG 12 WRITER
1. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame: Te'o set the tone early in Notre Dame's win over Oklahoma and clinched the Irish's season-defining win with a diving interception off a deflected pass. There have been other defensive players that should have won the Heisman in previous years. Maybe Te'o can be the first.
2. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: Manziel's play directing an upset of Alabama in Tuscaloosa forced his way onto several Heisman ballots. "Johnny football" wasn't able to lift the Aggies to home wins over LSU and Florida but the second half of the season Manziel played better than anyone in the country.
3. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State: Klein is an example of a player that can lead his college team to great heights but probably will have to change positions in the NFL. The Wildcats were picked sixth in preseason Big 12 polls but Klein led them to the title. If the 'Cats hadn't lost at Baylor Klein probably would be the overwhelming favorite.
NOT ON MY BALLOT
Marqise Lee, WR, USC; Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon; Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State.
Lee almost made my ballot over Klein but the Trojans faded late in the season despite Lee's standout play ... Barner is the best weapon in an offense loaded with weapons ... Miller led the Buckeyes to an undefeated season.
JENNI CARLSON, COLUMNIST
1. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame: Notre Dame wins with defense, and it does so because of Te'o. He is a force like no other, making one big play after another for the Irish. Add in Notre Dame's strength of schedule and how many good teams it has faced, and Te'o's resume is hard to beat.
2. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State: Klein stunk against Baylor, throwing three interceptions in Kansas State's only loss. But the Wildcats wouldn't have been top-ranked in that game without Klein. Heck, they might not have been top 25. He is that important to this one-loss team.
3. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: You won't find a more electrifying player in the game, but in Texas A&M's two losses, he was at his worst. In those two games, he had one touchdown and three interceptions. Yes, he was clutch against Alabama, but one game can't outweigh the other 11.
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