ACC Football 2012 Heisman Watch: Week 10

Giovani Bernard Has Firmly Laid Claim to the Title of “Nation’s Best Running Back”

The ACC no longer has a viable national title contender, thus we have no Heisman candidate to speak of, either (not fair, but unfortunately true). So as promised, for the remainder of this season, we’ll now be compiling a watch list for the fictional Chris Weinke Award, to honor the best player in the ACC. These posts will remain under “Heisman Watch” for the purposes of consistency and SEO, however. Have other nominees? Submit your ballots below.

1. Tajh Boyd, QB/Clemson (2,550 total yards, 24 total TD, 6 INT, 67.7 percent completion) (LW: 1)

As our own Joel Penning pointed out earlier today, Boyd’s improvement from last season to this one cannot be praised enough. He’s got more accuracy, more mobility and might just be the most dangerous weapon in a Clemson offense chock-full of them. Take a look at the numbers he put up against Wake Forest last Thursday night: 27/38, 428 yards and five touchdowns; and most of that was in the first half (including all five TDs). If not for some severe anti-ACC bias going on, the junior would be charging up the actual Heisman board.

2. Giovani Bernard, RB/North Carolina (1,498 all-purpose yards, 15 TD) (LW: 3)

Seven games. That’s all Bernard’s played in this season (and in one of those, he only touched the ball six times). And yet, he’s the ACC leader in all-purpose yards, national leader in all-purpose yards per game and in the top 10 for total all-purpose yards. He’s 70 yards short of 1,000 rushing yards on the season, yet has only carried the ball 126 times (a 7.4 yards-per-carry average).  If that wasn’t enough, his receptions-per-game (4.6) rank ninth in the conference, and he’s already had his Heisman performance (last week’s comeback over NC State). Sadly, we’re unlikely to see him in a UNC uniform next year, but there’s no doubt he’ll spend the rest of this season as a sort-of darkhorse for the Heisman.

3. EJ Manuel, QB/Florida State (2,539 total yards, 17 total TD, 4 INT, 70 percent completion) (LW: 2)

Manuel’s statistics lagging every other week is mostly a product of his own team’s success. With big leads early in many games, he finds himself pulled by the half or shortly thereafter, giving him incomplete days like last Saturday’s 16 total passes (that still ended up going for 282 yards and two scores). As long as the ‘Noles keep winning, however, he’ll remain in the running as one of the ACC’s best. Plus, with a potential conference title game, as well as a bowl game too, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to add to his numbers where his two main competitors cannot).

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