Here is the week 12 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. Jameis Winston, Fr., QB, Florida State
Winston moves into the Heisman front runner spot as a result of Oregon’s implosion against Stanford on Thursday night. Winston himself didn’t do much against Wake Forest to bolster his Heisman credentials, throwing for 159 yards and two touchdowns with one interceptions, but right now he’s the candidate with the fewest weaknesses. When one looks at FSU’s remaining schedule — Syracuse, Idaho, Florida and the ACC title game — it appears that Winston could possibly coast to the Heisman. However, there is the danger that the lack of compelling competition the rest of the way could cause some voters to pay attention to more interesting matchups featuring other candidates. It’s not clear at this point if FSU is going to put Winston in position to solidify his hold on the Heisman by allowing him to put up big numbers against the rest of the schedule. Still, the fact that he is leading a traditional Heisman power to a potential BCS title game berth should be enough to carry him through, assuming he continues to perform at a high level and nothing crazy happens in the ACC title game.
Last Game: 17/28, 159 yards, 2 TDs, 1 Int, in a 59-3 win over Wake Forest
Season Stats: 166/240, 2,661 yards, 69.2%, 26 TDs, 7 Ints, 192.23 rating, 53 carries, 157 yards, 3 TDs
Next Game: Syracuse
Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 3,848 passing yards, 38 TDs, 10 Ints, 221 rush yards, 4 TDs
2. Bryce Petty, Jr., QB, Baylor
Petty showed he could be productive against quality competition last Thursday, combining for five touchdowns against a top-10-ranked Oklahoma defense. He was 13 of 26 for 204 yards with three touchdown passes and he also rushed for 45 yards and two scores. While his yardage totals weren’t great, anytime you produce five touchdowns against a traditional power like Oklahoma, you help your cause. He remains on pace to have a combined 44 touchdowns by the time the Heisman vote is due and if Baylor remains undefeated while he finishes strong against the likes of Oklahoma State and Texas, he’s a lock to get to New York as a finalist. The question is whether that will be enough to overtake Winston. I think Baylor would do well to start a campaign on his behalf. If he blows up against a ranked team like OSU with everyone watching while Winston meanders through a couple quarters against Idaho, he could make up a lot of ground. And Baylor’s season-ending game with Texas might end up being a better matchup than FSU will have in the ACC title game. There remains a lot of potential in this candidacy. It’s just up for Petty and Baylor to realize it.
Last Game: 13/26, 204 yards, 3 TDs, 0 Ints, 45 rush yards, 2 rushing TDs in a 41-12 win over No. 10 Oklahoma
Season Stats: 135/202, 2,657 yards, 66.8%, 21 TDs, 1 Ints, 210.64 rating, 44 carries, 18 yards, 8 TDs
Next Game: Texas Tech
Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 3,984 passing yards, 32 TDs, 2 INTs, 180 rush yards, 12 TDs
3. AJ McCarron, Sr., QB, Alabama
The McCarron boomlet that I predicted a couple weeks ago is underway. After his typically efficient performance in Alabama’s impressive win over LSU, the talk is now turning to the likelihood of the Tide competing for its third-straight national title. McCarron is bound to benefit from that talk since he is the face of the program. He threw for 179 yards and three touchdowns against the Tigers and now has seven touchdowns and no interceptions in his team’s two wins over ranked teams. He still has a lot of ground to make up in this race, but games against Auburn and in the SEC title game could afford him that opportunity. However, he’ll need both Winston and Petty to suffer severe dropoffs (or losses) and he’ll need to finish the season on a tear to have a chance to actually win.
Last Game: 14/20, 179 yards, 3 TDs, 0 Ints in a 38-17 win over No. 13 LSU
Season Stats: 159/229, 2,041 yards, 69.4%, 19 TDs, 3 Ints, 169.06 rating
Next Game: at Mississippi State
Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 2,951 passing yards, 27 TDs, 4 Ints
4. Marcus Mariota, So., QB, Oregon
Mariota’s candidacy suffered a severe blow as a result of his team’s 26-20 loss to No. 5 Stanford last Thursday night. Heisman voters want to see candidates come through in games like this and Mariota was not up to snuff for most of it. He did throw for 250 yards and two touchdowns, but he just did not look like the dominant player he had been for most of the season leading up to the game. The most important factor that hurts his candidacy, besides the loss itself, is that it likely knocks Oregon out of the Pac-12 title game, which means that Mariota has only 12 games instead of 13 to build his Heisman resume and that he’ll be sitting home on Dec. 7 instead of giving voters one more chance to see him play. Because Mariota’s seasons numbers are already so impressive, there’s a chance he sneaks back into the race toward the end by finishing strong. But he’ll need a lot of help from the Heisman Gods to actually have a chance to win. He’ll make his way to New York as a finalist regardless, but that game against Stanford will always have him asking “What if?”
Last Game: 20/34, 250 yards, 2 TD, 0 Ints, 6 carries, -16 yards in a 26-20 loss to No. 5 Stanford
Season Stats: 164/259, 2,531 yards, 63.3%, 22 TDs, 0 Ints, 173.43 rating, 62 carries, 495 yards, 9 TDs
Next Opponent: Utah
Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 3,372 passing yards, 39 TDs, 0 Ints., 660 rushing yards, 12 TDs
If the vote was held today:
6. Jordan Lynch
7. Teddy Bridgewater
8. Tajh Boyd
9. Derek Carr
10. Braxton Miller