Here is the week 8 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. I’m certain at this point that the Heisman winner will come from this group. 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 shined in his first true test of the season, totaling 454 yards of offense and four touchdowns against No. 15 Washington on the road. He now has 25 total touchdowns on the season and no turnovers, a remarkable stat that could gain traction with Heisman voters if it continues for much longer. He remains on pace for 54 combined touchdowns by the time the Heisman vote is due, which is ahead of what Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel produced in their trophy-winning years. He takes on Washington State this week and then faces UCLA and Stanford in two crucial games that could determine whether or not he wins the Heisman and, if so, by how much.
Last Game: 24/31, 366 yards, 3 TDs, 0 Ints, 13 carries, 88 yards, 1 TD in a 45-24 win over Washington
Season Stats: 100/165, 1,724 yards, 60.6%, 17 TDs, 0 Ints, 182.37 rating, 41 carries, 426 yards, 10.4 ypc, 8 TDs
Next Opponent: Washington State
Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 3,735 passing yards, 37 TDs, 923 rushing yards, 17 TDs
2. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Boyd helped Clemson avoid a letdown against Boston College, throwing for 334 yards and a score while adding another TD on the ground. We now come to the true test of his candidacy — this week’s huge matchup with Florida State. All eyes will be on this game and if he leads the Tigers to a win over the Seminoles, then he’ll clinch — at minimum — a trip to NYC as a Heisman finalist. His numbers project out to be Heisman worthy. All that’s left is for Boyd to show that he can get his team to the next level.
Last Game: 30/44, 334 yards, 1 TDs, 0 Ints, 9 carries, 33 yards, 1 TDs in a 24-14 win over Boston College
Season Stats: 123/185, 1,783 yards, 66.5%, 15 TDs, 2 Ints, 172.05 rating, 66 carries, 187 yards, 2.8 ypc, 5 TDs
Next Opponent: Florida State
Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 3,861 passing yards, 33 TDs, 4 INTs, 403 rushing yards, 11 TDs
3. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
Petty had another fine day on Saturday, throwing for 342 yards and three touchdowns (with another rushing TD) on the road against Kansas State. The Bears struggled a bit on offense and managed ‘only’ 35 points and 446 yards of offense. But that was mainly due to the stagnant running game. Petty was still still his unstoppable self as he hit on TD throws of 93, 72 and 54. While this wasn’t the kind of win that will impress voters, it nonetheless showed that Petty can perform well under pressure. It now looks very likely that Baylor will be 7-0 when it plays Oklahoma on Nov. 7. If Petty’s astronomical 230.59 efficiency rating holds up and the Bears beat the Sooners, then Petty will start to get some serious Heisman buzz.
Last Game: 13/22, 342 yards, 3 TDs, 0 Ints, 9 carries, -15 yards, 1 TD in a 35-25 win over Kansas State
Season Stats: 80/114, 1,690 yards, 70.2%, 13 TDs, 1 Ints, 230.59 rating, 23 carries, 45 yards, 4 TDs
Next Game: Iowa State
Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 4,056 passing yards, 31 TDs, 2 INTs, 108 rush yards, 10 TDs
4. Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
Hundley had a career passing night, throwing for 410 yards in a win over California as the Bruins are off to their first 5-0 start since 2005. Hundley has excellent production and now just needs to make a splash with a good performance in a big win over a quality opponent. A road game this Saturday with a No. 13 Stanford team that suddenly looks beatable should fit the bill. If Hundley engineers the upset, it could set up a mega-Heisman-showdown the following week with Mariota and Oregon.
Last Game: 31/41, 410 yards, 3 TDs, 0 Ints, 9 carries, 18 yards in a 37-10 win over California
Season Stats: 109/160, 1,469 yards, 65.5%, 12 TDs, 4 Ints, 165.0 rating, 61 carries, 260 yards, 4.3 ypc, 3 TDs
Next Game: at Stanford
Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 3,822 passing yards, 31 TDs, 8 INTs, 676 rushing yards, 8 TDs
5. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Winston has looked fantastic for Florida State in the early going and can lead the Seminoles to their first 6-0 start since 1999 by beating Clemson this Saturday. The matchup with the Tigers gives Heisman voters a chance to contrast Winston with Tajh Boyd, another prime contender. Playing well in a win over Clemson would catapult him into serious contention for the trophy. If he can maintain his production while keeping FSU undefeated, he’ll likely be the second-straight redshirt freshman to get to NYC as a Heisman finalist.
Last Game: 23/32, 393 yards, 5 TDs, 0 Ints in a 63-0 win over Maryland
Season Stats: 90/123, 1,441 yards, 73.2%, 17 TDs, 2 Ints, 213.94 rating, 36 carries, 135 yards, 2 TDs
Next Game: at Clemson
Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 3,744 passing yards, 44 TDs, 5 Ints, 351 rush yards, 4 TDs
6. AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama
McCarron threw for a career-high 359 yards against Kentucky and remains on the periphery of the Heisman race. While his production can’t match that of the other candidates, his status as the quarterback of the No. 1 team gunning for a third-straight national title gives him a platform to remain a contender — so long as he finishes the season with a kick. If he becomes the Tide’s first quarterback to throw for 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns in a regular season, then he’s got a shot at the Heisman if his team remains undefeated and some of the other candidates fall by the wayside.
Last Game: 21/35, 359 yards, 1 TD, 0 Ints in a 48-7 win over Kentucky
Season Stats: 111/161, 1,407 yards, 68.9%, 11 TDs, 3 Ints, 161.17 rating
Next Game: Arkansas
Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 3,042 passing yards, 24 TDs, 6 Ints
7. Sean Mannion, Oregon State
Normally a candidate from Oregon State would be a non-starter, but Mannion’s numbers are too much to ignore. He’s currently on pace for 5,000 passing yards and 50 touchdowns, a remarkable number for a quarterback in a non-air-raid offense. While it’s unlikely that he keeps up his current pace, games with Stanford and Oregon will give him the chance to prove to voters that he is for real. I think OSU has to win at least one of those games for Mannion to have a realistic shot at the trophy.
Last Game: 34/51, 493 yards, 4 TDs, 1 Ints in a 52-24 win over Washington State
Season Stats: 194/289, 2,511 yards, 67.1%, 25 TDs, 3 Ints, 166.59 rating
Next Game: at California
Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 5,016 passing yards, 50 TDs, 6 Ints