Johnny Football has 24 passing touchdowns and 19 rushing touchdowns in 2012. Of those 43 total touchdowns, 22 of them (51.2%) came against non-conference opponents. Texas A&M outscored their four non-conference opponents 224-102 (30.5 points per game) which suggests Manziel inflated his numbers as the Aggies destroyed their weaker opponents. Why is Johnny Football being praised for playing in a tough conference like the SEC when half of his touchdowns came against non-conference opponents?
In addition, Manziel is averaging 120.75 rush yards per game against non-conference opponents as opposed to 87.25 rush yards per game against Southeastern Conference opponents. Granted this makes complete sense considering SEC defenses are better, but it illustrates how Manziel was significantly more effective running the football against weaker opponents, and thus should not be getting as much credit for dicing up SEC defenses on the ground.
Now let's discuss Manziel's in-conference play. Despite playing some of the nation's toughest opponents in Alabama, Florida and Louisiana State, Manziel posted a 1-2 record and scored only three total touchdowns in those three games. While these are arguably three of the best defenses in the FBS, Manziel put up only 18.7% of his total yards and 7.0% of his total touchdowns in the three biggest games on the schedule. (Manziel accumulated 11.8% of his total yards and 11.6% of his total touchdowns in the Arkansas game alone.)
I'd also like to point out that nine of Manziel's 21 SEC touchdowns came against two horrible defenses in Arkansas and Auburn. These two teams combined to give up 91 total touchdowns on defense during the season while posting an aggregate record of 7-17 (2-14 in-conference).
Additionally, nobody seems to be talking about how Manziel threw three interceptions and completed 51.8% of his passes in a home loss to Louisiana State that ultimately eliminated the Aggies from BCS Bowl contention. Johnny Football rushed for a season-low 27 yards and averaged 1.6 yards per carry, while accounting for zero touchdowns on October 20 in a crucial showdown against the Tigers.
I didn't write this article because I wanted to discredit Manziel or promote Collin Klein and Manti Te'o. I wrote this because I want to encourage the general public to dig deeper into the statistics and form an opinion for themselves instead of turning on ESPN and buying into everything they say. ESPN has essentially been touting Manziel as a lock to win the Heisman ever since Kansas State lost to Baylor, which is complete nonsense in my opinion. I've heard rumblings about the Heisman voters' reluctance to choose a Freshman, so don't be surprised if Te'o or Klein comes out ahead of Manziel in the Heisman voting.