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.
We are now in the calm before the storm. This week’s games should go a long way toward determining the next Heisman winner.
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 must do on Thursday when the Ducks travel to Palo Alto to take on No. 5 Stanford. 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 the Cardinal 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, Fr., QB, Florida State
Now that Miami has been vanquished, it looks more and more likely that Winston will lead FSU to its first undefeated regular season since 2000. He had a good game against the Hurricanes, throwing for 325 yards and a touchdown on 21 of 29 passing. While he did have two interceptions, they won’t end up hurting him very much in a game that the ‘Noles won by 27. He’ll continue to accumulate big numbers against a light schedule while the Seminoles complete their ‘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. FSU might also want to consider giving him every opportunity to win the trophy, since having blowout statistics would also be eye candy for a large group of Heisman voters. So that would mean getting more reps than usual in the coming routs. No matter what, though, he’s a lock to make it to New York as a Heisman finalist and he’ll likely become just the fifth freshman to finish in the top 3 of the voting.
Last Game: 21/29, 325 yards, 1 TDs, 2 Ints, 27 rush yards, in a 41-14 win over No. 7 Miami
Season Stats: 149/212, 2,502 yards, 70.3%, 24 TDs, 6 Ints, 201.12 rating, 50 carries, 153 yards, 3 TDs
Next Game: at Wake Forest
Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 4,069 passing yards, 39 TDs, 10 Ints, 247 rush yards, 5 TDs
3. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
To this point, Petty 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 on Thursday night, 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 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:
6. Jordan Lynch
7. Teddy Bridgewater
8. Tajh Boyd
9. Derek Carr
10. Braxton Miller