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1. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Last Week: 212 passing yards & 4 touchdowns in win vs. Florida International
Outlook: An easy schedule is allowing Bridgewater’s production to reach high levels. His 14 touchdowns passes to only one interception is everything you’d want from a Heisman-contending quarterback. A soft schedule is a double-edged sword, though. Bridgewater may end up throwing 40-plus touchdowns and 4,000-plus yards, but Heisman voters are going to hold the schedule against him. Heisman voters, however, tend to reward perfection regardless of schedule. That could be Bridgewater’s saving grace, but it leaves no room for error.
2. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Last Week: 282 total yards (38 rushing) & 3 touchdowns in win at North Carolina State
Outlook: Last Thursday’s 26-14 victory over North Carolina State only reinforces a point I made a week ago. Clemson plays down to their competition. The team you saw in the opener against Georgia is not the team that shows up against lesser competition. They must overcome this disturbing trend or somebody (possibly Boston College or Maryland) is going to upset them, causing Boyd’s stock to slide.
3. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Last Week: 346 total yards (102 rushing), 3 touchdowns (2 rushing), & 1 interception in win vs. SMU
Outlook: One month into the season and the Heisman is probably Manziel’s to lose, but there’s a legit possibility that Texas A&M will drop at least two more games. That’s why you don’t see him sitting atop this Heisman Watch. Winning in the SEC is difficult and Texas A&M’s conference schedule is about to kick into full gear. Their next two games are on the road against Arkansas and Ole Miss, respectively. Winning both games allows Manziel to begin distancing himself in this race, but the media’s waiting to pounce on him should he play poorly in defeat. Any negative coverage is detrimental to his Heisman status.
4. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
Last Week: 258 passing yards, 1 touchdown, & 1 interception in win vs. Colorado State
Outlook: Many prognosticators seem content to hand Alabama the SEC championship, but the Crimson Tide haven‘t yet put together a complete game. Their offense struggled against Virginia Tech, their defense couldn’t stop Manziel, and they were beating Colorado State 17-6 entering the fourth quarter. Right now, Alabama still has work to do before they achieve the standard they‘ve set by winning three of the last four national championships. Losing a game in the SEC is definitely plausible. As they’ve done the last two seasons, Alabama can overcome one loss. In the context of the Heisman race, though, McCarron will have a difficult time doing the same because he won’t have the lofty statistics of a Bridgewater or Manziel.
5. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Last Week: Idle
Outlook: If Mariota keeps up his current pace (1,151 total yards & 11 total touchdowns), he’ll end the season with 4,988 total yards and 48 total touchdowns. Under this scenario, not only will he lead Oregon to a national championship, but he’ll also take home the Heisman trophy.
6. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
Last Week: 445 total yards (37 rushing), 4 touchdowns (1 rushing), & 1 interception in win vs. North Texas
Outlook: Next week may represent the final roadblock in Georgia’s path from reaching a third straight SEC championship game. The Bulldogs welcome undefeated LSU to Athens and the Tigers might be playing as well as any team in the country. Beating South Carolina two weeks ago may have saved Georgia’s season, but beating LSU this Saturday puts them right back in the national championship conversation. That’s exactly where they need to be, if Murray is to take home the Heisman.
7. Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
Last Week: 156 rushing yards & 1 touchdown in win vs. Louisiana-Monroe
Outlook: Three games into the season and Seastrunk is averaging 139 yards per game. In addition, he’s averaging a resounding 10.9 yards per carry. There’s a buzz surrounding Baylor this season, particularly in regards to their offense. With Texas failing to live up to expectations, the door is open for somebody to challenge Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in the Big 12. Baylor’s a good bet and they happen to play both teams in November. What does all this mean? Simply put, Seastrunk’s emerging as this year’s dark horse candidate.
8. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
Last Week: 111 total yards (20 rushing) & 1 touchdown in win vs. North Texas
Outlook: For the first time in 2013, Murray began distancing himself from Gurley in the Heisman race. Gurley played well against North Texas, but he didn’t have the over the top statistics you expect when playing lesser competition. He’ll get a chance to makeup ground or even surpass his teammate with a good game versus LSU. Nevertheless, this year’s Heisman field is crowded, which makes it unlikely one team will have two finalists. Something’s going to give in Georgia, though an LSU victory could be enough to spoil both players’ Heisman aspirations
On the Bubble
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Melvin Gordon III, RB, Wisconsin
Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson