Here are the games this weekend that should have the most impact on the Heisman race:
Wake Forest at Clemson – Tajh Boyd is in the upper echelon of contenders, but he needs to start putting the pedal to the metal when it comes to production. The Wake Forest defense should be just what the doctor ordered. Throwing at least four touchdown passes against the Demon Deacons will put him back on a healthy statistical pace.
Ole Miss at Alabama – With the Alabama running game struggling so much, maybe the Tide should lean on AJ McCarron a bit more against the Rebels. Teams appear to be trying to force McCarron to beat them, so we’ll see if he’s up to the task. Another multiple touchdown game here should improve his standing with Heisman voters.
Texas A&M at Arkansas – Johnny Manziel should have his way with the Razorbacks defense. The only real question will be how long he plays before giving way to his backup. Look for another 200/100 type game, at least.
Wisconsin at Ohio State – If Melvin Gordon is going to emerge as a legitimate Heisman candidate, it will start here against the Buckeyes. A huge game in a win over Ohio State will make him the No. 1 running back candidate in the race. If he plays well in a close loss, he can still stick around, but he’d have to go on a tear the rest of the way to mount a serious challenge.
California at Oregon – The Heisman front runner, Marcus Mariota, should have a field day against a rather suspect California defense. As with Manziel, the question in this one is how long he’ll play before heading to the bench. Still, look for another 200/100 game as he keeps pace with Manziel in the box score.
Heisman Game of the Week
LSU at Georgia – This game is central to the Heisman hopes of Aaron Murray and Todd Gurley. First and foremost, the Bulldogs have to win. If they lose, both these guys are finished in this year’s race. But if they do win, one or both will be equipped to make a serious run at the trophy. Of course, it will depend on how they perform against the Tigers. I think both need to have, arguably, their best games of the season to gain traction. That means a typically efficient performance from Murray, with few mistakes and multiple touchdown passes. For Gurley it means 150-plus rushing yards. A clutch play or two in crunch time from one or both also would help. We haven’t seen a Georgia player become a Heisman finalist since 1992. Maybe this game helps break that string.