The ever-shrinking Heisman field


This past weekend of college football did quite a bit to ‘thin the herd’ of Heisman candidates.

We can now say with high confidence that the following players won’t be winning the Heisman this year:

Tajh Boyd

Brett Hundley

Teddy Bridgewater

Boyd had two possible routes to the trophy. First, he could’ve led Clemson to an undefeated season and a berth in the BCS title game. That, combined with a very good statistical season and a little luck, would have made him a very attractive candidate to voters. After Clemson’s loss to Florida State, that’s not going to happen. His other option was to produce a season that was statistically head-and-shoulders above most of the other contenders. While his production will be admirable and on par with his recent seasons, it won’t fit that bill either. It’s certainly possible that he could go on a tear the rest of the way and end up as a Heisman finalist, but his chances of actually winning the trophy have been virtually extinguished as a result of his performance in his team’s loss to FSU.

Hundley didn’t have to play for an undefeated team to win the Heisman, but he did need to perform very well in take downs of Stanford and Oregon to have a real shot at it. That didn’t happen against the Cardinal and the chances of it happening against Oregon seem remote. Nor will Hundley produce the kind of numbers that will able to overcome these deficiencies. Everything he does from this point on will serve as prologue for a 2014 run at the Heisman, should he choose to return for another year at UCLA.

Bridgewater’s Heisman hopes ended with Louisville’s loss to UCF on Thursday night. Because his schedule was so weak, the expectation by voters was that Bridgewater needed to (1) lead his team to an undefeated season and (2) produce a statistically remarkable season (something along the lines of what Sean Mannion is doing right now). Neither is happening and that’s why Bridgewater will have to be satisfied with merely being a top NFL draft pick next spring.

The exit of these three players from the race leaves us a dwindling Heisman field. Five now are left who can win:

Marcus Mariota

Jameis Winston

Bryce Petty

Sean Mannion

A.J. McCarron

There are other quality players out there like Derek Carr of Fresno State,  Jordan Lynch of Northern Illinois, Melvin Gordon of Wisconsin, Mike Evans of Texas A&M and Lache Seastrunk of Baylor who can each be a factor in the race and maybe even finish in the top five of the vote. But their ability to actually win is hamstrung by various factors.

Can anyone not currently on the Heisman radar emerge the same way Johnny Manziel did last season?

Well, at this time last season, Manziel was already identifiable as a candidate. I don’t see any other player out there with the potential to duplicate what he did during the home stretch, although Nick Marshall of Auburn might be close. After all, he is improving every week and has a huge matchup with Alabama in week 12 to cap things off. We’ll keep an eye on him, but it seems to be the longest of long shots.

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Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.

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3 Responses to The ever-shrinking Heisman field

  1. Michael November 3, 2013 at 5:44 pm #

    I admire your work and your posts. However, I do find it comical and editorially dishonest to continue to perpetuate the myth that Johnny Manziel CANNOT win the Heisman.

    It is simply ridiculous that you haughtily state that THESE ARE THE FIVE LEFT WHO CAN WIN: with Manziel not even mentioned, despite him continuing to rank in the top 3 of your straw poll. It does you a disservice for all of your hard work.

    I think a mea culpa article is due…even if the crux of it is that Johnny is not a probable winner (which I agree so long as Winston and Mariota continue their winning ways!). Making it a POINT to omit Manziel from any consideration, while continuing to fan the flames of Petty and McCarron (Mannion is surely done after the USC game) only detracts from you, not Manziel’s chances.

    You can always put an asterisk next to Manziel in the list saying that his presence breaks a Heismandment–which he has already done once! 😉

    Let’s see what the next 4 weeks brings!

    • Heismanpundit November 4, 2013 at 10:14 am #


      Thanks for the post. But I’ve treated Manziel no different than I did Jason White, Matt Leinart, Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford or Mark Ingram after they came back the next season after winning the Heisman.

      In each case, I said they couldn’t win, while their supporters howled in rage. Well, they didn’t win.

      Now, you could argue, rightfully, that much of my argument on the matter of the two-time winner is ephemeral. It’s along the lines of those who say the Cubs will never win the World Series. You can say, well, technically the Cubs have a shot. But they never end up winning, do they?

      Otherwise, I’ve explained — exhaustively — over the years why a two-time winner is highly unlikely. The very reasons I’ve gone over are fully in place with Manziel today — media fatigue, the standards of the previous season, a more formidable field, extenuating circumstances, etc.

      Simply put, the things that have to happen for Manziel to win again are highly unlikely and less likely than the possibility of Mariota, Winston, Petty or McCarron winning.

      Could Manziel average 500 yards per game the rest of the way? Sure. And maybe Bishop Sankey averages 350 rushing the rest of the way, too. We are dealing with likelihoods, not fantasies, however.

      And, hey. If I’m wrong, I’ll be wrong. Otherwise, I’ll be right once again. But I’m sure it won’t stop some from ripping me the next time a Heisman winner returns and I exclude him from winning again.


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