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1. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Last Week: 397 passing yards & 4 touchdowns in 44-7 win vs. Eastern Kentucky
Outlook: Many consider Bridgewater the top quarterback prospect for the 2014 NFL Draft. Scouts can‘t be disappointed with his start. In two games, he has thrown for 752 yards and nine touchdowns. The current knock against his Heisman candidacy is Louisville’s soft schedule. It’s a critique he’ll have deal with throughout the year, as there isn’t a current ranked opponent on the Cardinals’ schedule.
2. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Last Week: 179 total yards (10 rushing) & 1 touchdown (rushing) in win vs. South Carolina State
Outlook: After a commanding performance against Georgia, Boyd’s production dropped against lowly S.C. State. His lone touchdown came on a quarterback sneak. Still, the win over Georgia won‘t be forgotten as long as Clemson remains in the BCS title picture. That night, Boyd had 312 total yards and contributed to five scores. Heisman voters will forgive a measly week two performance so long he doesn’t make a habit of playing down to his competition.
3. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Last Week: 439 total yards (36 rushing), 4 touchdowns (1 rushing), & 1 interception in win vs. Sam Houston State
Outlook: Last week, I wrote about why I believe Manziel should embrace his role as college football’s villain. Most fans that don’t root for Texas A&M have an unfavorable opinion of the reigning Heisman trophy winner. It’s too early to determine what sort of impact this could have on Heisman voting, but Manziel’s play can quiet his critics. In his first full game of the season, he threw for 400-plus yards for just the second time in his career. His first six quarters of action was simply a tune-up for Texas A&M’s showdown with Alabama. I can’t think of a September contest with this much riding on the line. The Aggies have a chance to make a statement and emerge as BCS title contenders. Alabama can avenge their only loss from a year ago and put to rest some of the early-season concerns regarding their offensive line.
4. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
Last Week: 309 passing yards & 4 touchdowns in win vs. No. 6 South Carolina
Outlook: Only one team has ever reached the BCS championship with two losses. That was the ‘07 LSU Tigers. Georgia’s a team with national championship aspirations and a win over South Carolina makes them the SEC East favorites. Murray was brilliant in perhaps the best game of his career. On third downs alone, he went six for seven for 139 yards and two touchdowns against South Carolina’s vaunted defense. Five of those completions went to a different receiver. He reminded us all why he’s on the NFL’s radar.
5. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
Last Week: 142 total yards (8 receiving) & 2 touchdowns (1 receiving) in win vs. No. 6 South Carolina
Outlook: Unlike Murray, Gurley didn’t struggle in the opener. In fact, he was a big reason why Georgia hung in as long as they did with Clemson. The Georgia running back has 288 yards on the ground in just two games. He’s also averaging nearly seven yards per carry. It’s unusual, but not unprecedented for one team to possess two Heisman contenders. The most recent example came in ‘05, when USC running back Reggie Bush and quarterback Matt Leinart finished No. 1 and No. 3, respectively. If the Bulldogs can get through a difficult schedule and dethrone Alabama in the SEC, then Gurley and Murray stand a good chance of being in this race for the long haul.
6. De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
Last Week: 152 total yards (28 receiving) & 3 touchdowns in win at Virginia
Outlook: Oregon could also have two Heisman contenders at the end of the year. Quarterback Marcus Mariota is off to a great start, having rushed for 100-plus yards in both his games. Right now, though, the edge goes to Thomas in Oregon. He has 252 rushing yards on just 29 rushes. That’s an average of 8.7 yards per carry. He’s also scored five touchdowns on the year. Entertaining the masses has never been problem for Thomas, who’s one of college football’s most electrifying players. It’s all about consistency and touches for the junior running back. This is the second time in his college career that he’s recorded 10-plus carries in back-to-back games. This trend must continue if he’s to remain a serious player in the Heisman race.
7. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Last Week: 1 sack in loss at No. 11 Georgia
Outlook: Considered the surefire No. 1 overall pick, Clowney possesses all the tools to be a bona fide stud in the NFL. However, he’s come under early-season criticism for being out of shape. Major prospects aren’t immune to criticism. A lot of nitpicking tends to ensue because of their hype. While he definitely needs to play better (six tackles in two games) to prove his worth in the Heisman race, it’s important to remember that sacks come in bunches. You haven’t heard the last from Clowney, yet.
8. Jeremy Gallon, WR, Michigan
Last Week: 8 receptions, 198 total yards (14 rushing), & 3 touchdowns in win vs. No. 14 Notre Dame
Outlook: Last week’s most anticipated game saw Gallon put on a clinic with quarterback Devin Gardner. The Michigan wide receiver dominated the Fighting Irish, making difficult catches look easy. This could be the point where his Heisman candidacy takes off or it could fade from here. It’s worth nothing, though, that Michigan doesn’t play another ranked team until November. That gives Gallon or Gardner time to rack-up statistics, as they position themselves (and the program) for their make or break stretch in November.
On the Bubble
Devin Gardner, QB, Michigan
Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson