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Our votes: Manziel, Te'o top picks for Heisman

The Journal Gazette's Tony Krausz and LaMond Pope submitted their ballots for this season's Heisman Trophy winner. Here is how the two college beat writers (Krausz – Notre Dame; Pope – Purdue/Indiana) came to their decisions on this year's most outstanding college football player:

Manziel's stats too good to overlook

By LaMond Pope | The Journal Gazette

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o deserves serious consideration for winning the Heisman Trophy.

He's the heart and soul of the top-ranked Irish's defense. Te'o has 103 tackles and seven interceptions.

But Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel's numbers are just too good to overlook. And that's why the quarterback nicknamed Johnny Football sits atop my Heisman ballot.

My top three were Manziel, Te'o and Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein.

The redshirt freshman has an SEC-record 4,600 yards of total offense (3,419 passing, 1,181 rushing). That's more than Cam Newton the year he won the Heisman with Auburn. And he's done it in two fewer games than Newton. Manziel has 43 total touchdowns (24 passing and 19 rushing).

After struggling in a loss to LSU, he bounced back with three consecutive strong outings on the road. His signature performance came Nov. 10 at then-No. 1 Alabama. He completed 77.4 percent of his passes (24 of 31) for 253 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 92 yards in the 29-24 win.

Te'o had plenty of big moments as well. His seven interceptions rank second in the Football Bowl Subdivision. And many have come in crucial wins – including two against Michigan and one each at Oklahoma and USC. According to Notre Dame, he has factored in 11 of the team's 23 turnovers (seven interceptions, two fumble recoveries and two quarterback hurries that led to interceptions.)

Klein was a front-runner until an off night in a loss to Baylor. He has 2,490 passing yards, 890 rushing yards and 37 combined touchdowns.

Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller, Southern California wide receiver Marqise Lee and Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones were other players I considered.

Te'o was great from start to finish

By Tony Krausz | The Journal Gazette

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o received my first-place vote for the Heisman, because he was outstanding from Game 1 (eight tackles, a fumble recovery and an interception in a 50-10 win over Navy) to Game 12 (five tackles and an interception in a 22-13 win over USC).

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, who I voted second with Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein third, has impressive statistics too. The redshirt freshman set the SEC record for total yards with 4,600, throwing for 3,419 yards with 24 touchdowns and running for 1,181 with 19 TDs.

But Manzel had two very un-Heisman performances when the Aggies held a 17-7 lead over Florida midway through the second quarter only to get shut out from there throwing for only 80 more yards and rushing for 20 more yards, and when Texas A&M led LSU 12-0 late in the first half, Manzel was stopped again as the Tigers held him to only four more rushing yards and intercepted three of his passes.

Te'o has been hard to stop from making plays all year.

The 6-foot-2, 255-pound senior has a team-high 103 tackles and is the first linebacker in 14 years to have seven interceptions. And he was at his best against some of the best. Te'o had 12 tackles and recovered a fumble against then-No. 10 Michigan State, taking down running back Le'Veon Bell five times, and he had 11 tackles against then-No. 17 Stanford, taking down running back Stephon Taylor seven times.

Te'o also spreadheaded goal-line stops against Stanford and USC and led a defense that held Oklahoma to only 15 rushing yards, and that's why he got my top vote.

Klein had a Heisman-worthy year, 2,490 passing yards, 890 rushing yards and 37 combined TDs, but had his hopes derailed by a loss to Baylor.

Heisman Trophy

Where: Best Buy Theatre in Times Square, New York
When: 8 p.m. Saturday (ESPN)
Finalists: Manti Te'o, Notre Dame; Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M; Collin Klein, Kansas State

Last 10 winners

2011: Robert Griffin III, Baylor
2010: Cam Newton, Auburn
2009: Mark Ingram, Alabama
2008: Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
2007: Tim Tebow, Florida
2006: Troy Smith, Ohio State
2005: Reggie Bush, USC*
2004: Matt Leinart, USC
2003: Jason White, Oklahoma
2002: Carson Palmer, USC
* Returned Heisman after being ruled ineligible for 2005 season; Heisman trust left award vacant

The ballots

LaMond Pope
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
Collin Klein, Kansas State
Tony Krausz
Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Collin Klein, Kansas State

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