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1. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Last Week: 225 passing yards & 4 touchdowns in win vs. Idaho
Outlook: Despite looming legal troubles, Winston continues to deliver on the field, while other Heisman contenders disappoint. The Florida State quarterback has 35 total touchdowns and 3,000-plus passing yards on the season. He also has his team two wins away from securing a spot in the BCS championship game. Baring an upset, he’d be a lock to win the Heisman under normal circumstances. However, Winston is facing sexual-assault charges. Nobody in their right mind will award him the Heisman with these allegations looming in the background. Everything is up in the air right now.
2. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Last Week: 278 total yards (54 rushing), 1 touchdown, & 2 interceptions in loss at No. 22 LSU
Outlook: Because of Winston’s off-field situation, the Heisman was up for grabs. Manziel was the logical person to pluck it out of the air. Instead, he delivered his worst performance of the year. Still, I don’t believe his poor showing closed the path on him. This is a strange year with serious allegations lingering over the frontrunner. Somebody will elevate should Winston fall. With a big road game in Missouri next week, Manziel has a chance for redemption. In addition, the media has a short memory span. Will they remember his dud against LSU if he delivers a blockbuster performance against Missouri? My guess is they won’t, so he remains in the No. 2 spot for at least one more week.
3. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
Last Week: 186 total yards (15 rushing) & 2 touchdowns in win vs. Chattanooga
Outlook: All eyes turn to McCarron this week, as Alabama plays Auburn in the yearly Iron Bowl. The winner plays for the SEC championship on December 7. McCarron’s clean image off the field makes him an ideal choice for Heisman voters looking to avoid controversy with their vote. It doesn’t make him the right choice, though. I agree not voting for Winston because of his legal matters, but nobody outside of Alabama really believes that McCarron is the best player in the conference. It’s clearly Manziel. I wrote about it last week and one game does not change my view. Nevertheless, I recognize the turning tide. McCarron has as many as two big games remaining on his schedule with his biggest cheerleader (CBS) broadcasting both games. His outlook couldn’t be more favorable.
4. Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois
Last Week: 363 total yards (161 rushing) & 3 touchdowns (all rushing) in win at Toledo
Outlook: The implosion from Marcus Mariota and Oregon creates an opportunity for somebody to steal his invite. That somebody could be Lynch, who is having another monster season for Northern Illinois. The dual-threat quarterback has 2,418 passing yards and 1,434 rushing yards on the season. He also has 21 touchdown passes and 17 touchdown runs. NIU is also on their way to an undefeated regular-season.
5. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
Last Week: 405 total yards & 2 touchdowns in loss at No. 10 Oklahoma State
Outlook: Petty squandered a golden opportunity against Oklahoma State. Manziel played poorly against LSU, McCarron wasn’t playing in a marquee game, and Winston’s facing serious allegations. Unfortunately, for Petty, Baylor played poorly in a 49-17 defeat. Baylor‘s offense wasn‘t totally ineffective, but several of their drives stalled after failing to convert on fourth down. No matter how you slice it, Baylor failed to deliver in what was undoubtedly their most-watched game of the year.
On the Bubble
Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State