We might want to get used to this: Optimus Klein has struck again.
While Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o put up a monster performance against Oklahoma, Kansas State's Collin Klein maintained the status quo as the Heisman frontrunner against No. 15 Texas Tech. Klein registered a quadruple-dip of touchdowns while his then fourth-ranked Wildcats kept their national title hopes alive.
Te'o's outing took place on a bigger stage against a tougher opponent, but Heisman history isn't on the linebacker's side. A defense-only player hasn't finished higher than fourth in Heisman voting since Pitt's Hugh Green took runner-up in 1980. Moreover, Oklahoma's Brian Bosworth was the last linebacker to crack the top five, finishing fourth in 1986. Notre Dame is surging in the polls, and its defensive leader will look to buck that trend. But until then, this race is starting to look like Klein's to lose.
Before we move on to this week's rankings, here's a reminder of how things stacked up after last week.
Last week: 19-of-26 passing for 233 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions; 12 rushes for 83 yards and two touchdowns in a 55-24 win over No. 15 Texas Tech.
Season (eight games): 117-of-165 passing for 1,630 yards and 12 touchdowns; 120 rushes for 634 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Watchman's take: Last week Klein ripped through West Virginia's porous defense. This week he ripped through a Texas Tech team that boasted the nation's No. 7 defense. Klein had little problem holding his Heisman lead against the Red Raiders, accounting for four touchdowns and helping the Wildcats hang at least 50 points for the fifth time this season. Klein is responsible for 21 points per game on his own, good for sixth in the nation, which has helped No. 3 K-State get off to an 8-0 start for the first time since 1998. If momentum holds, the senior has a legitimate chance to bring home a BCS title and a Heisman Trophy.
Next up: Saturday vs. Oklahoma State
Last week: 11 tackles, one sack and one interception in a 30-13 win over No. 8 Oklahoma.
Season (eight games): 80 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, one sack, five interceptions, three pass breakups and two fumble recoveries.
Watchman's take: The leader of the Irish's second-rank defense delivered yet another monster performance on a big stage. Against the Sooners, Te'o tallied all of his 11 tackles in the first half and registered his first sack of the season to help Notre Dame clamp down on Oklahoma's Big 12-leading offense, which came in averaging 44.7 points per game. The senior added another Heisman-worthy moment to his résumé with a fourth-quarter interception of Landry Jones, which sealed the win with 4:46 left to play. An invitation to New York remains likely for Te'o, especially considering what lies ahead for Notre Dame: Before closing the season against USC on Nov. 24, the Irish face three opponents with a combined 10-14 record.
Next up: Saturday vs. Pittsburgh
Last week: 16-of-23 passing for 208 yards and two touchdowns in a 38-7 win over No. 13 Mississippi State
Season (eight games): 122-of-177 passing for 1,684 yards, 18 touchdowns and no interceptions.
Watchman's take: It's hard to argue with consistency, and McCarron plays the part exceptionally well in Alabama's offense. The nation's leading passer (182.4) sat out the fourth quarter of the Crimson Tide's rout against the Bulldogs, but not before putting on a clinic in efficiency, powering 'Bama to touchdowns on its first three possessions en route to a commanding 24-0 halftime lead. McCarron hasn't gotten as much Heisman love as his dual-threat counterparts, but he's tossed 18 touchdowns (two shy of Alabama's single-season record) without throwing an interception and has keyed the nation's 11th-ranked offense (40.63 points per game). McCarron has a chance to cement his candidacy against No. 5 LSU next week in Baton Rouge.
Next up: Saturday at No. 5 LSU
Last week: 7-of-19 passing for 143 yards, one touchdown and one interception; 25 rushes for 134 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-23 win over Penn State.
Season (nine games): 112-of-198 passing for 1,527 yards, 12 touchdowns and six interceptions; 166 rushes for 1,093 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Watchman's take: One week after a hard tackle knocked Miller out of the game against Purdue, the sophomore returned to account for three touchdowns against Penn State in the "Ineligibowl," snapping the Nittany Lions' five-game winning streak. Miller tallied his sixth 100-yard rushing game of the season and produced one of the week's top Heisman highlights with his stutter step one-yard touchdown dive in the third quarter to put Ohio State up 21-10. The 9-0 Buckeyes may face a bowl ban, but the school's eighth Heisman Trophy is well within Miller's grasp.
Next up: Saturday vs. Illinois
Last week: 16-of-23 passing for 260 yards and two touchdowns; nine rushes for 90 yards and three touchdowns in a 63-21 win over Auburn.
Season (eight games): 173-of-269 passing for 2,216 yards, 16 touchdowns and six interceptions; 117 rushes for 793 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Watchman's take: The legend of Johnny Football continues to grow in College Station. Manziel chipped in all five of his touchdowns in just more than two quarters of action, and the No. 22 Aggies reached the end zone in seven of his first eight possessions in steamrolling Auburn. The freshman registered 350 of the Aggies' 671 total yards on the afternoon and became just the fifth A&M passer to surpass the 3,000-yard mark for total offense in a season. The next two weeks will be telling for Manziel's Heisman hopes, as the Aggies must travel to both Mississippi State and Alabama.
Next up: Saturday at No. 17 Mississippi State
Oregon running back Kenjon Barner, West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith and Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones missed the cut this week.
Klein continues to hold the Heisman lead among SI staffers. Much like last week, the Watchman's leader garnered all first-place votes but one. However, Te'o matched Klein with a vote in every top-three list. One new addition to the field is Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones, fresh off a strong outing in statement victory over Florida.
1. Kansas State QB Collin Klein -- 9 votes (8 first-place votes)2. Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o -- 9 votes3. Ohio State QB Braxton Miller -- 3 votes4. Alabama QB AJ McCarron -- 2 votesT5. Alabama OL Chance Warmack -- 1 (1)T5. USC QB Matt Barkley -- 1T5. West Virginia QB Geno Smith -- 1T5. Georgia LB Jarvis Jones -- 1
SI's voters: Senior writers Thayer Evans, Stewart Mandel, Andy Staples, Phil Taylor; senior editors Jim Gorant, Mallory Rubin, B.J. Schecter; associate producers Zac Ellis and Ben Glicksman.
Collin Klein shredded Texas Tech's previously stout defense for four touchdowns. (Getty Images)
Braxton Miller eludes the entire Penn State roster before diving into the end zone for his 11th rushing touchdown of the season:
Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M offense took their toll on a reeling Auburn squad: