The Stiff Arm Trophy website has called the Heisman Trophy race for Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.

To all those impatient Aggie fans out there: This is the earliest projection I think we’ve ever made. Typically, we wait until Friday afternoon. Sometimes, Saturday morning. And, when it was Ingram/Gerhart/McCoy/Suh/Tebow, it was about 90 minutes before the start of the Heisman presentation.

Drum roll, please… It’s Johnny Manziel, with 81% of the points possible. That’s 81% of the way toward a unanimous first-place selection. That number may be slightly inflated, but regardless, he’ll likely finish somewhere in the top six or seven biggest Heisman winners ever – somewhere between Desmond Howard and Cam Newton. (Lots more historical Heisman stats here.)…

Congrats to Johnny Manziel and everyone in Aggieland. Exactly 40 years after freshmen were allowed to play varsity college football, a freshman willl win the Heisman Trophy. Extraordinary.

Manziel was also on top in the final Scripps Heisman poll.

Original post, December 5

Is it too early to say Johnny Football will be Johnny Heisman? Not if the Nate Silvers of the college football world are right. 

While USA Today’s survey of 37 voters from the USA Today Sports Media Group (which includes the Gannett newspapers, as well TV stations and websites) shows a “dead heat” between Manziel and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, that poll is shaping up to be the equivalent of one favoring Mitt Romney in last month’s presidential race.

In that survey, Manziel had 19 first place votes, and 85 points overall, while Te’o had 17 first place votes, and 84 points overall.

But The Heisman Pundit, which has called the last five winners, has Manziel well ahead.

The 11-member weekly panel of actual Heisman voters gave Manziel eight first-place votes and placed him on 10 of their ballots. He totaled 27 points, which was his same score the previous week. The results point to a comfortable win for Manziel when the Heisman is awarded on Dec. 8.

Manziel has also opened up a comfortable lead in the Scripps Heisman Poll, with eight of the ten available first place votes, and ESPN’s Heisman Tracker, which gave Manziel 11 first place votes to Te’o’s four, with a 69 to 57 lead overall. 

And in perhaps the biggest indicator of all, Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News notes that at least one Las Vegas sports book now has Manziel as a hardly-worth-betting-on overwhelming favorite, with odds of 1 to 6. 

The most extensive reading of the tea leaves comes from Stiff Arm Trophy, which has correctly predicted the Heisman winner for the past 10 years. Stiff Arm’s method is to collate all the publicly declared ballots of actual Heisman voters, whose picks were due on Monday. It just takes time to track down all the articles and interviews where the various media members reveal their choices.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Stiff Arm’s tally was up to 140 participants, which is nothing compared to the award’s 700-plus voters, but a more-than-significant sample in the survey world. It currently has Manziel with 82 first place votes and 318 points overall to Te’o’s 41 and 236. 

Manziel is also either first, second or third on 127 of those 140 ballots, while Te’o only appears on 104.

Last year, Stiff Arm’s final projection included 231 ballots, with Baylor’s Robert Griffin III taking both the projection and the actual trophy easily. 

One big reason Manziel seems to be in good shape is a lack of competition from the award’s other finalist, Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein. Klein doesn’t seem likely to chip away at either candidate for second-place, let alone the trophy. He did not even appear on four of the Heisman Pundit’s 11 ballots, while 57 of his 94 mentions in the Stiff Arm survey are for third.

So score another victory for A&M’s move to the SEC–were the Aggies still in the Big 12, Manziel and Klein would be battling for that extra push of votes from the same region. On top of that, Manziel is sure to get the lion’s share of home-state votes, a real killer for Klein, whose Wildcats played five Texas teams this season.

Manziel’s lead has even prompted Notre Dame and Kansas State fans to accuse Stiff Arm Trophy founder Kari Chisholm, a Portland, Oregon-based Democratic political consultant, of Aggie bias.

Let’s say that again. Portland, Oregon. Democratic political consultant. Aggie bias.

Even so, the accusation prompted Chisholm to get in a shot at A&M (because who doesn’t love an Aggie joke?).

There may be a lot of Aggie fans here, but they seem to revel in sharing updates that have already been shared a few dozen times. Long on enthusiasm, short on reading skills. (Oh snap! Now Aggie Fan can tell me I’m biased…)