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1. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Last Week: 285 total yards (35 rushing) & 1 touchdown in win at Kentucky
Outlook: A slow start didn’t prevent Bridgewater from leading Louisville to victory against in-state rival Kentucky. The Cardinals totaled 339 second-half yards in their 27-13 win. The next two games (Florida International & Temple) should allow Bridgewater to pad his stats ahead of a Thursday night matchup with Rutgers. The primetime game will be one of few opportunities for Bridgewater to highlight his skills to a national audience.
2. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Last Week: Idle
Outlook: The next four weeks are critical for Clemson. The Tigers have a tendency to play down to their competition, while looking ahead to superior opponents. A pivotal ACC showdown with Florida State is still a couple weeks away, but first, they get a road game against N.C. State this Thursday night. Boyd will look to improve upon a lackluster effort from his previous outing.
3. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Last Week: 562 total yards (98 rushing), 4 touchdowns, & 2 interceptions in loss vs. No. 1 Alabama
Outlook: Maybe Manziel walked out on the Manning Passing Academy to attend the Favre Passing Academy. Because Brett Favre’s the only other quarterback alive that would’ve thrown the pass Manziel did in the second quarter of Texas A&M’s loss to Alabama. On third-and-8, Manziel evaded several would-be tacklers and heaved the ball 40 yards downfield, while falling backward. Somehow, wide receiver Edward Pope came down with it. People will praise the play, but it was mostly reckless and luck. Nonetheless, I’m not sure Manziel could’ve given a better performance. His two interceptions were costly, but the reigning Heisman trophy winner led Texas A&M to 42 points -- the most Alabama has allowed in the Nick Saban era. Both stories come out looking positive in the end. Alabama got their revenge. And Manziel gave a Heisman-worthy performance.
4. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
Last Week: 334 passing yards & 4 touchdowns in win at No. 6 Texas A&M
Outlook: Nobody made a bigger statement on Saturday than McCarron did with his performance. Alabama fell behind 14-0 early, but McCarron didn’t panic. He threw three touchdown passes, as Alabama quickly turned the deficit into a 21-14 lead. In the end, the Crimson Tide would score 35 unanswered points and McCarron ended up completing 20 of 29 passes. His maturity and leadership contrasts with Manziel’s cockiness. The latter is a more exciting player, but with a few more performances like Saturday, McCarron might be the SEC quarterback to boast the 2013 Heisman.
5. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Last Week: 483 total yards (27 rushing) & 4 touchdowns in win vs. Tennessee
Outlook: For a moment, it was a dicey situation in Oregon. The Ducks were down 7-0 and Mariota had just two completions. He then proceeded to complete 21 of 25 passes, while leading the Ducks to 59 unanswered points. In addition, his 456 passing yards was the third most in school history. Upsets are bound to happen, but Mariota’s sitting pretty in this race with only Stanford (and maybe UCLA) appearing as Oregon’s legitimate challengers in the Pac-12.
6. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
Last Week: Idle
Outlook: After back-to-back tough games to open their 2013 season, Georgia got a much-needed rest last Saturday. The Bulldogs will have no problems beating North Texas this Saturday before they take on yet another top 10 ranked program in LSU. Consider Murray a legitimate Heisman candidate, if the Bulldogs can somehow escape the month of September with a 3-1 record.
7. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
Last Week: Idle
Outlook: It’s still early in the season, but the quarterback-heavy Heisman race could benefit other positions. The quarterbacks may split votes, especially with three of them playing in the SEC, opening the door for a running back. However, there‘s yet to be a running back to emerge in this race. Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk is off to an incredible start, but Baylor needs a signature win before Seastrunk is able to breakthrough. Gurley’s the most talented running back in the country, but Murray could overshadow him. The backend of this race remains convoluted.
8. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Last Week: 4 tackles & 1 sack in win vs. Vanderbilt
Outlook: After weeks of the media manufacturing drama, Clowney’s back on track. Playing through pain, Clowney forced a key third quarter fumble en route to leading South Carolina to a 35-25 victory. The Gamecocks’ defense played much better this week, allowing just 268 total yards. Clowney will need foot surgery after the season ends. He’ll use the bye-week to heal as much as he can before South Carolina starts a manageable six-game stretch that features no ranked teams.
On the Bubble
Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
Devin Gardner, QB, Michigan
Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson