Here is the week 5 edition of the 2013 Heismanpundit Heisman Watch. After taking into account the games played so far, these are the players who have the best chance of actually winning the Heisman. This is not a prediction of the final order of the race, nor is it an endorsement of who would or should win if the vote were held today. It’s a long view of the race that takes into account schedule and statistical trends.
1. Marcus Mariota, So., QB, Oregon
Mariota and Oregon had off this past weekend. Nothing of note happened in the Heisman race during his break, so he remains the front runner heading into the Ducks’ game with California. His production should be out-of-this world by the time Oregon takes on Washington, UCLA and Stanford in the span of four weeks starting in mid-October. If he gets through that stretch with his team unscathed, he will have built up enough of a cushion by then to be able to weather a sub par game, or even a loss, at a later point in the season. He is currently on pace to have a better statistical season than Johnny Manziel did last year.
Last Game: 23/33, 456 yards, 4 TDs, 0 Ints, 6 carries, 27 yards, 1 TD in a 59-14 win over Tennessee
Season Stats: 49/82, 889 yards, 59.8%, 7 TDs, 0 Ints, 178.99 rating, 15 carries, 262 yards, 17.5 ypc, 4 TDs
Next Opponent: California
Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 3,848 passing yards, 30 TDs, 1,135 rushing yards, 17 TDs
2. Tajh Boyd, Sr., QB, Clemson
Boyd had a solid game against NC State but he needs to start picking up his production pace a bit so he doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. He’s got three games to get things going before taking on what should be a top 10 Florida State team in mid-October. Given the normal standards of Chad Morris’s offense, I have no doubt that Boyd’s numbers should improve significantly in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, the longer Clemson remains undefeated, the better Boyd’s chances are of winning.
Last Game: 24/37, 244 yards, 3 TDs, 0 Ints, 13 carries, 38 yards, 0 TDs in a 26-14 win over North Carolina State
Season Stats: 56/90, 683 yards, 62.2%, 6 TDs, 0 Ints, 147.97 rating, 32 carries, 90 yards, 2.81 ypc, 3 TDs
Next Opponent: Wake Forest
Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 2,951 passing yards, 26 TDs, 390 rushing yards, 13 TDs
3. AJ McCarron, Sr., QB, Alabama
McCarron had a solid game against Colorado State, though there are still issues with the Alabama offense as a whole. His completion percentage is starting to rebound from a slow start, but he needs more touchdown passes. The next five opponents should afford him the opportunity to improve his numbers and then he gets a mega-matchup with LSU to make his case. He remains the backup option if more exciting guys like Mariota and Boyd mess up.
Last Game: 20/26, 258 yards, 1 TD, 1 Ints in a 31-6 win over Colorado State
Season Stats: 50/78, 702 yards, 64.1%, 6 TDs, 2 Ints, 159.95 rating
Next Game: Mississippi
Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 3,042 passing yards, 26 TDs, 9 Ints
4. Teddy Bridgewater, Jr., QB, Louisville
Bridgewater got back on track on Saturday, throwing four touchdowns in a shellacking of FIU. He’s now on pace to have 42 touchdown passes and just three interceptions by the time the Heisman vote is due. Those are obviously fantastic numbers, but I don’t believe they would be good enough to win the Heisman with his schedule. I still say he needs around 50 total touchdowns to win, which would require that he average 4.5 TDs per game the rest of the way, although a 47-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio would no doubt be attractive, too.
Last Game: 17/22, 212 yards, 4 TDs, 0 Ints in a 72-0 win over FIU
Season Stats: 79/110, 1,214 yards, 71.8%, 14 TDs, 1 Ints, 204.70 rating, 12 rushes, 36 yards, 0 TDs
Next Opponent: at Temple
Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 3,636 passing yards, 42 touchdowns, 3 interceptions
5. Todd Gurley, So., RB, Georgia
Naturally, Gurley had his worst game of the season against North Texas, which makes his candidacy a bit more vulnerable heading into the LSU game. He’ll have to come up big against the Tigers if he wants to remain the No. 1 running back candidate in this race. With his teammate, Aaron Murray, starting to play at a high level, it could soon be clear where the focus of the Bulldog offense lies. Gurley needs to be seen as the engine that powers Georgia if he wants to win the Heisman. So it’s up to him to show that this Saturday.
Last Game: 21 carries, 91 yards, 1 TD, 2 receptions for 20 yards in a 45-21 win over North Texas
Season Stats: 63 carries, 377 yards, 5.98 ypc, 4 TDs, 4 rec, 29 yds, 1 TD
Next Game: LSU
Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 1,638 rushing yards, 17 TDs
6. Aaron Murray, Sr., QB, Georgia
Murray is getting hot and looks to be on his way to a spectacular season. He’s rebounded nicely from the Bulldogs’ opening loss to Clemson and UGA still has a legit shot at getting to the BCS title game if it wins out. This Saturday’s game against LSU could be the last known obstacle in the way of that, since the Bulldogs are likely to be favored over every team on its remaining schedule. If Murray plays well and leads Georgia to victory over the Tigers, then he’ll significantly improve his chances of winning the Heisman.
Last Game: 22/30, 408 yards, 3 TDs, 1 Ints
Season Stats: 59/82, 1,040 yards, 72.0%, 7 TDs, 2 Ints, 201.78 rating, 2 rush TDs
Next Game: LSU
Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 4,498 passing yards, 30 TDs, 9 Ints
7. Brett Hundley, So., QB, UCLA
Hundley was a little sloppy against New Mexico State, throwing two interceptions, but they had no bearing in a blowout. He needs to help UCLA avoid disappointment in its next two games, as both Utah and Cal could give the Bruins trouble, and then the ultimate test of his candidacy will come with back-to-back road games with Stanford and Oregon.
Last Game: 23/35, 280 yards, 3 TDs, 2 Ints, 6 carries, 33 yards, 0 TDs in a 59-13 win over New Mexico State
Season Stats: 61/92, 848 yards, 66.3%, 8 TDs, 3 Ints, 165.90 rating, 32 carries, 157 yards, 4.9 ypc, 2 TDs
Next Game: at Utah
Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 3,666 passing yards, 35 TDs, 680 rushing yards, 9 TDs
8. Bryce Petty, Jr., QB, Baylor
Petty continued his torrid pace against Louisiana-Monroe, showing once again why he’s perhaps the best deep-ball thrower in the country. The Baylor offense is producing at an absurd level and Petty makes it look incredibly easy. The big question will be how much he can keep it going once the schedule toughens up. If Petty’s numbers continue to amaze even against the likes of Oklahoma, I think he’ll make it to NYC.
Last Game: 18/27, 351 yards, 4 TDs, 0 Ints, 5 carries, 26 yards, 1 TD in a 70-7 win over Louisiana-Monroe
Season Stats: 50/67, 1,001 yards, 74.6%, 8 TDs, 0 Ints, 239.53 rating, 10 carries, 37 yards, 2 TDs
Next Game: West Virginia
Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 4,008 passing yards, 32 TDs
9. Melvin Gordon, So., RB, Wisconsin
Gordon makes his first appearance on this list by virtue of his production, which could be something special by season’s end. As I explained here, Gordon is averaging 12 yards per carry in his first four games and nearly 11 yards per carry for his entire career at Wisconsin. The wildcard here is Wisconsin itself. Can the Badgers win at least one of their next two games (vs. Ohio State and Northwestern)? If Wisky does so and goes 10-2 while Gordon gets to 2,000 yards in spectacular fashion, he could win.
Last Game: 16 carries, 147 yards, 3 TDs, in a 41-10 win over Purdue.
Season Stats: 53 carries, 624 yards, 7 TDs, 11.77 ypc.
Next Opponent: at Ohio State
Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 1,872 yards, 21 touchdowns
Others to watch: De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon; Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor; Kevin Hogan, QB, Stanford