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1. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Last Week: 454 total yards (88 rushing) & 4 touchdowns (1 rushing) in win at No. 16 Washington
Outlook: Every eventual Heisman winner cements themselves with an iconic performance at some point during their season. For Johnny Manziel, it was his 345 total yards in an upset victory over Alabama. Plenty of time remains between now and the Heisman Trophy ceremony, but Mariota performance against Washington was iconic. In fact, there’s no longer a doubt in my mind that he’s the Heisman‘s leading contender. That doesn’t mean he’ll win it. Oregon could fall to Stanford and the quality of this year’s candidates remains outstanding. But after seven weeks of football, Mariota is beginning to distinguish himself from the rest of the field.
2. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Last Week: 367 total yards (33 rushing) & 2 touchdowns (1 rushing) in win vs. Boston College
Outlook: After surviving a scare against Boston College, Clemson can refocus their efforts on Florida State this Saturday. The importance of this game cannot be overstated. The outcome will have ramifications on the ACC, BCS, and Heisman races.
3. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Last Week: 470 total yards (124 rushing), 2 touchdowns (both rushing), & 1 interception in win at Ole Miss
Outlook: Winning on the road in the SEC is tough. The Aggies found that out last Saturday, as Ole Miss took them to the brink of defeat. Every time the Rebels landed a punch, the Aggies would counter with one of their own. With a little more than three minutes remaining, Manziel was able to orchestrate a drive that setup the game-winning field goal. It wasn’t easy, but that’s life in college football’s best conference.
4. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Last Week: 310 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, & 1 interception in win vs. Rutgers
Outlook: Many consider Bridgewater the top quarterback prospect for the 2014 NFL Draft, though Mariota may have something to say about that. Regardless, every misstep is scrutinize, so his two turnovers inside the red zone brought upon scrutiny. His draft status will survive. The big takeaway from Louisville’s win over Rutgers was their lack of dominance. They need to dominate opponents to put themselves in the national title conversation. They failed to dominate Rutgers. As a result, Bridgewater’s going to have difficulties garnering support.
5. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Last Week: Idle
Outlook: We could have a Heisman shakeup next week. Winston has put himself in position to overtake Boyd and Bridgewater with a victory over Clemson. Nobody expects a defensive struggle between two of the best offenses in college football, so the winning team will receive great production from their quarterback. Last Saturday, Mariota made his move. This coming Saturday, Boyd or Winston will make theirs.
6. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
Last Week: 290 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, & 2 interceptions in loss vs. No. 25 Missouri
Outlook: Missouri had no problems taking down the Bulldogs in Athens. Murray did throw three touchdowns, though, and that marks the fifth consecutive game in which he’s thrown three or more touchdown passes. Nevertheless, he was a long-shot candidate prior to Saturday. Now he’s hanging on by a thread.
7. Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
Last Week: 59 rushing yards in win at Kansas State
Outlook: This could’ve been a good week for Seastrunk to make his move, as Baylor received a good television timeslot. However, the junior running back couldn’t get going and teammate Glasco Martin actually outgained him. In fact, you can begin to make the argument that quarterback Bryce Petty is emerging as Baylor’s Heisman candidate.
8. Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU
Last Week: 152 passing yards in win vs. No. 17 Florida
Outlook: Three of LSU’s next four games are against SEC opponents. They play Ole Miss next week before playing Alabama and Texas A&M in November. The Tigers got an ugly win over Florida, but the victory keeps them in the national title picture, especially after losses from Georgia and Stanford. As long as they‘re national title contenders, Mettenberger remains a potential invitee to New York for the Heisman Trophy presentation.
On the Bubble
Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson