Here are the games this weekend that should have the most effect on the Heisman race:
UCLA at Nebraska – Brett Hundley and Taylor Martinez square off and one could emerge as a legitimate Heisman contender with a stellar performance in a win. Hundley has the most to gain, since leading his team to a victory on the road against a quality opponent would stand out with voters. The loser of this game will likely have to forget about the Heisman this season.
Louisville at Kentucky – Sadly, this might be the most high-profile opponent Teddy Bridgewater plays in the first half of the season. Since it’s in the early time slot of the day, some people actually might be watching, so it’s an opportunity for him to make an impression. It’s also a rivalry game, which means there could be some adversity. Bridgewater must make sure his team avoids a letdown while continuing to play at a very high level.
Tennessee at Oregon – One week after taking on an ACC team on the East Coast, the Ducks host an SEC team on the West Coast. This is a perfect Heisman set-up game for Marcus Mariota and De’Anthony Thomas. The Volunteers are still a name brand program with talent, so putting up big numbers against them is sure to garner attention. This game is most likely to determine whether Thomas is in this race for the long haul.
Alabama at Texas A&M – Here we go. The rematch of the Heisman Game of the Year from 2012. While he’s unlikely to actually win the Heisman, this game will reveal how much of an influence Johnny Manziel will have on this year’s race. A big game by him in a win means he’s going to be in the conversation all season long. If he plays poorly, we can officially put his Heisman hopes to bed. Conversely, AJ McCarron has a chance to rebound from a subpar performance in week one and lead his team to a huge win on the road against a top 6 team, which will insert him back into the Heisman mix. Meanwhile, another average (or worse) game by McCarron will eliminate him from contention.
Nevada at Florida State – Was Jameis Winston’s debut against Pitt a fluke? Nevada may not be the kind of opponent to determine that, but this game will determine if some of the buzz surrounding Winston is valid. Another outstanding game from the freshman will cause Heisman voters to start taking a closer look.
HEISMAN GAME OF THE WEEK
Ohio State at California – Why is this game, and not the Alabama-TAMU game the GOW? Because the preseason Heisman front runner’s candidacy is hanging by a thread. If Braxton Miller does not play in this game, or is severely limited, his Heisman hopes are done. You just can’t miss two games and still win the Heisman. On the other hand, if he ends up playing and he performs well, he’ll remain in the upper echelon of contenders.