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1. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Last Week: 248 total yards (18 rushing) & 1 touchdown in win vs. No. 12 UCLA
Outlook: Because of Mariota’s lack of style points against UCLA, there’s bound to be a hyperbolic reaction that elevates Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston above him. The trajectory of the Heisman race remains unchanged, though. Maybe Winston does have the momentum, but at this point, we know it’s a two-horse race with a third (Johnny Manziel) lurking in the shadows. Much of this story remains untold.
2. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Last Week: 292 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, & 1 interception in win vs. N.C. State
Outlook: After avoiding a trap their schedule had lain before them, Florida State moves back into the primetime spotlight next Saturday to battle archrival Miami (FL). It’s good to have the rivalry back with something meaningful on the line. The hype for this game will definitely compare to the hype between Clemson and Florida State two weeks ago. This gives Winston yet another primetime setting to state his case as the best player in college football.
3. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Last Week: 305 passing yards, 4 touchdowns, & 1 interception in win vs. Vanderbilt
Outlook: It’s likely Manziel will finish with greater production this year than he did in his Heisman-winning 2012 campaign. The sophomore redshirt has at least 300 total yards in each game this season, including five games with 300-plus passing yards. In addition, Texas A&M has scored no lower than 41 points. The focus is rightfully on Mariota and Winston because they’ve elevated their teams into the national title picture. However, Manziel remains lurking in the corner ready to pounce should both frontrunners misstep.
4. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Last Week: 344 passing yards & 3 touchdowns in win at South Florida
Outlook: Burying Bridgewater because of one defeat is an example of a hyperbolic reaction. In the big picture, Louisville will win 10, probably 11 games. Unless the Heisman committee invites only three players, Bridgewater’s production and wins is enough to receive an invite to the ceremony. As a result, he remains relevant to the race, despite having no chance of winning the prestigious award.
5. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
Last Week: 452 total yards (22 rushing) & 4 touchdowns (1 rushing) in win at Kansas
Outlook: With the exception of Mariota and Winston, Petty has more upside than any other player does in college football. He’s thrown for 300-plus yards in all seven of Baylor’s games, including a season-high 430 against Kansas. Still, the schedule is about to pickup with Baylor facing Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, TCU, and Texas in their final five games. This stretch will determine Petty’s Heisman standing.
6. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Last Week: 328 total yards (24 rushing), 2 touchdowns (1 rushing), & 1 interception
Outlook: Boyd falls into the same category as Bridgewater does. He can’t win the Heisman, but an invite remains plausible. Two more games remain prominent on Clemson’s schedule. They play Georgia Tech on a Thursday night in November and they finish their season against South Carolina. Boyd will need big performances in both games to push Clemson into a BCS bowl and make up for his dud against Florida State.
7. Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
Last Week: 109 rushing yards & 1 touchdown in win at Kansas
Outlook: You can’t deny the year Seastrunk is having. He’s run for 869 yards on only 96 carries. That’s an average of about nine yards per carry. Those are amazing numbers, but it’s a quarterback-driven year, and Seastrunk’s likely to remain overshadowed by signal callers. Regardless, I’d love to see what he could do if he carries the ball 20-plus times. Maybe he’ll get a chance to do that against Oklahoma a week from this Thursday.
8. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
Last Week: 275 passing yards & 2 touchdowns in win vs. Tennessee
Outlook: Let’s dispel the notion that McCarron will win the Heisman as some sort of lifetime achievement award. That’s not happening. He could receive an invite to the presentation for that reason, but he’s a long-shot candidate.
On the Bubble
Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Melvin Gordon III, RB, Wisconsin
Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois
Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon State
Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia