The ever-shrinking Heisman field

hundley

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.

About Heismanpundit

Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of Heismanpundit.com, 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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