Here is the week 10 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.
The next 12 days will go a long way toward revealing this year’s Heisman winner, as each of the remaining contenders face marquee opponents in games that could make or break their candidacies.
1. Marcus Mariota, So., QB, Oregon
One of the main tenets of the Heismandments is that you must play well in big games on television and that’s exactly what Mariota did in leading Oregon to a 42-14 win over No. 12 UCLA this past Saturday. He threw for 230 yards and went 10 for 10 in the second half to help the Ducks pull away from the pesky Bruins. In his two games this year against opponents who were ranked at the time, Mariota is completing 76 percent of his passes for 596 yards and four touchdowns while also adding another 106 yards and a score on the ground. More importantly, he has no turnovers in those games. Against UCLA, he extended his streak without a pick to a Pac-12 record 292 straight. He continues to be on pace for a remarkable season that would put him in the statistical realm of recent Heisman-winning quarterbacks. The upcoming game with Stanford is his ultimate test and if he produces a lights-out performance in a Duck victory, he has a chance to coast to the Heisman from that point on.
Last Game: 21/28, 230 yards, 1 TD, 0 Ints, 7 carries, 18 yards in a 42-14 win over No. 12 UCLA
Season Stats: 144/225, 2,281 yards, 64%, 20 TDs, 0 Ints, 178.49 rating, 56 carries, 511 yards, 9.1 ypc, 9 TDs
Next Opponent: No. 6 Stanford on Nov. 7
Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 3,706 passing yards, 33 TDs, 0 Ints., 832 rushing yards, 15 TDs
2. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Florida State seems to be firing on all cylinders thanks to the magnificent play of Winston, who threw for 292 yards and three scores in a 49-17 vanquishing of NC State. Like Mariota, he’s on pace for a season that easily fits the mold of recent Heisman-winning quarterbacks. The upcoming game with No. 7 Miami is his last chance to impress voters against a ranked opponent. If he leads the Seminoles to a win over the Hurricanes, it should be smooth sailing the rest of the way. He’ll accumulate big numbers against a light schedule while FSU completes an undefeated regular season and a ‘return to glory.’ For this, Winston will reap enormous credit. However, if both Oregon and FSU finish undefeated and Mariota and Winston’s numbers are comparable, then Mariota will win the Heisman. So for Winston to actually win the trophy, he’s likely going to need Mariota to falter at some point.
Last Game: 16/26, 292 yards, 3 TDs, 1 Ints in a 49-17 win over North Carolina State
Season Stats: 128/183, 2,177 yards, 69.9%, 23 TDs, 4 Ints, 206.98 rating, 44 carries, 126 yards, 3 TDs
Next Game: No. 7 Miami
Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 4,043 passing yards, 43 TDs, 7 Ints, 234 rush yards, 6 TDs
3. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
Petty threw for a career-high 430 yards against Kansas and now his season’s prologue is complete. To this point, he has dominated against a weak schedule, albeit in a way that no one has ever dominated such a schedule before. He has a chance to shatter the NCAA passing efficiency mark while leading perhaps the greatest offense of all time to a Big 12 title and a berth in the BCS title game. If that is going to happen, however, he must guide his team through a November gauntlet that includes No. 13 Oklahoma, No. 15 Texas Tech and No. 18 Oklahoma State, not to mention a season-ending matchup on Dec. 7 against a Texas team that will likely be ranked. No other candidate on this list has a schedule that offers so much reward and so much risk this late in the season. Petty could be knocked out of the race against OU, or he could be flying high afterward thanks to a grand performance in a Bear victory. The idea that Baylor could win two Heismans in three years seems preposterous on the surface and maybe when this season is over we’ll look back and laugh at the notion. But it would merely be a testament to the amazing coaching job done by Art Briles in Waco and the mastery that Petty has displayed in directing such an amazing offense.
Last Game: 20/32, 430 yards, 3 TDs, 0 Ints, 1 rushing TD in a 59-14 win over Kansas
Season Stats: 123/177, 2,453 yards, 69.3%, 18 TDs, 1 Ints, 219.01 rating, 28 carries, 73 yards, 6 TDs
Next Game: No. 13 Oklahoma on Nov. 7
Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 4,205 passing yards, 31 TDs, 2 INTs, 125 rush yards, 10 TDs
4. AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama
McCarron had another efficient game this past Saturday, throwing two touchdown passes in a blowout of Tennessee. He remains the ‘break glass in case of emergency’ candidate, meaning he’s the reliable option for voters if the other candidates in the race all mess up. With games against LSU, a resurgent Auburn, plus the SEC title game still on the schedule, the potential is there for him to make a late run at the trophy despite having relatively modest production.
Last Game: 19/27, 275 yards, 2 TDs, 0 Ints in a 45-10 win over Tennessee
Season Stats: 145/209, 1,862 yards, 69.4%, 16 TDs, 3 Ints, 166.61 rating
Next Game: No. 11 LSU on Nov. 9
Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 3,042 passing yards, 26 TDs, 5 Ints
* * *
If the vote was held today:
1. Marcus Mariota
2. Jameis Winston
3. Johnny Manziel
4. AJ McCarron
5. Bryce Petty
6. Sean Mannion
7. Jordan Lynch
8. Teddy Bridgewater
9. Tajh Boyd
10. Braxton Miller