Well, we are a quarter of the way through the season. Given how the Heisman race has shaped up so far, here are the games to watch going forward:
Wisconsin at Ohio State – Melvin Gordon’s nascent Heisman campaign can really take off against the Buckeyes. Or get squelched.
LSU at Georgia – Aaron Murray and/or Todd Gurley can put themselves in a strong position in the Heisman race if they play well in leading UGA over LSU.
Oregon at Washington – This should be Marcus Mariota’s first real test of the season, but voters will keep an eye on De’Anthony Thomas, too.
Oct. 18 (Friday)
UCF at Louisville – UCF is the best team Teddy Bridgewater will face all season and, since this game is on Friday night, he’ll get the spotlight all to himself.
UCLA at Stanford – If Brett Hundley is to make a run at the Heisman, it begins with this game, which should be a battle of undefeated teams.
Florida State at Clemson – The second of three major tests for Tajh Boyd. If he guides Clemson past the Seminoles, he’ll be in great shape in this race.
UCLA at Oregon – If UCLA somehow survive Stanford, it sets up a huge matchup with Oregon the following week. Mariota, Thomas and Hundley could all make or break their campaigns here.
Florida vs. Georgia – This is only a big Heisman game assuming Georgia beats LSU in the early going, in which case this game is the last major obstacle for Murray/Gurley before the SEC title game.
Nov. 7 (Thursday)
Oklahoma at Baylor – We’ll know if one or both of the Baylor duo of Petty and Seastrunk are legitimate Heisman candidates after this game.
Oregon at Stanford – Odds are, these two teams will be undefeated and in the top 3 of the polls at this point, which means this is potentially the game of the year in college football. In this kind of setting, Mariota can just about clinch the Heisman with a big performance.
LSU at Alabama – AJ McCarron needs a big game in a win against the Tigers to have a shot at making it to New York City as a finalist.
Baylor at Oklahoma State – Assuming Baylor beats OU, this game could be for the Big 12 title, which means a win by the Bears could give either Petty or Seastrunk an inside track to NYC.
Texas A&M at LSU – The extent to which Johnny Manziel influences this year’s Heisman race will be determined by this game. If he is going to make history and repeat, this is where he’ll have to get it done (assuming A&M doesn’t make the SEC title game).
Nov. 29 (Friday)
Oregon State at Oregon – If Oregon is still undefeated at this point and Mariota is still leading the Heisman race, then the Civil War will be closely watched by pollsters and voters alike.
Clemson at South Carolina – Boyd’s third and final test of the season, after Georgia and FSU. If he passes this test and Clemson is undefeated, he’s going to be a Heisman finalist.
Alabama at Auburn – Heisman voters love rivalry games like this one and McCarron can punctuate an undefeated season with a good performance against the Tigers.
Dec. 5 (Thursday)
Louisville at Cincinnati – Another Thursday night spotlight for Bridgewater against a team that has a decent reputation. If he’s still in the race at this point, this game will help voters decide whether he is worthy of a trip to NYC.
Pac-12 title game
SEC title game
ACC title game
Who will play in these games? We don’t know yet, but there’s a chance we’ll see Mariota, Murray, Gurley, Boyd and McCarron making their final cases for the Heisman on the same day.