Here is the week 13 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 appeared completely unphased by the off-the-field issues that emerged this past week and was as sharp as ever against Syracuse, completing 19 of 21 passes for 277 yards and two touchdowns in just one half of play. As a result, he remains the Heisman front runner. However, the longer the investigation lingers, the greater the possibility there will be that some voters may open themselves up to considering alternative candidates. As it is, he’s on pace to hit the magic 40 total touchdown mark, which has been the minimum criteria in the past few seasons to compete for the Heisman. Playing for a traditional Heisman power like FSU that just so happens to be competing for a national title makes his candidacy even more formidable. However, with games against Idaho, Florida and (most likely) Duke coming up, I wonder if he’s going to be able to maintain the momentum needed to blunt any late charges by other contenders who might be playing more appealing opponents. There’s no doubt he’ll continue to put up efficient numbers, but how long will he play against Idaho and will voters remember that when they are taking into account his overall stats resume? While he is the player most likely to win the Heisman at this point, the combination of his incredibly light schedule and nagging off-the-field issues makes his candidacy a bit more vulnerable than most front runners this late in a season.
Last Game: 19/21, 277 yards, 2 TDs, 0 Ints, in a 59-3 win over Syracuse
Season Stats: 185/261, 2,938 yards, 70.9%, 28 TDs, 7 Ints, 195.48 rating, 58 carries, 189 yards, 3 TDs
Next Game: Idaho
Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 3,822 passing yards, 36 TDs, 9 Ints, 221 rush yards, 4 TDs
2. Bryce Petty, Jr., QB, Baylor
For the second-straight week, Petty produced five touchdowns running and passing, this time against Texas Tech in a 63-34 drubbing in Arlington. He is increasing his production at just the right time — with the competition stiffening and the national profile of his team increasing. He’s now on pace to have over 4,000 yards of offense and 45 total touchdowns, which would be right in the wheelhouse of recent Heisman winners. What’s more, his overall stat line remains gaudy, with his efficiency rating of 206.23 on pace to break the all-time NCAA mark set by Russell Wilson a couple years ago and his touchdown-to-interception ratio projected to be in the 32-to-1 range. Baylor now takes on another top 10 foe, this time Oklahoma State. This should be the marquee game of the weekend, with ABC carrying it in prime time on the East Coast. Meanwhile, FSU plays Idaho, Alabama plays Chattanooga and Oregon plays Arizona, which means he will have the spotlight all to himself (although another intriguing matchup that could impact the Heisman race will take place earlier in the day between LSU and Texas A&M). If Petty has another outstanding day against Oklahoma State and the Bears move to 10-0, look for him to start making real inroads with Heisman voters. If Petty’s numbers continue to surge and Baylor is undefeated heading into its final game against Texas, some people might see the Heisman as a fitting consolation prize for a team that looks like it might get shut out of a chance at the national title.
Last Game: 17/31, 335 yards, 3 TDs, 0 Ints, 9 rush yards, 2 rushing TDs in a 63-34 win over Texas Tech
Season Stats: 152/233, 2,992 yards, 65.2%, 24 TDs, 1 Ints, 206.23 rating, 53 carries, 127 yards, 10 TDs
Next Game: No. 10 Oklahoma State
Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 3,989 passing yards, 32 TDs, 1 INTs, 169 rush yards, 13 TDs
3. Marcus Mariota, So., QB, Oregon
It takes a bit of luck to win a Heisman and Mariota received some this past weekend when USC defeated Stanford. This put Oregon back into the driver’s seat for the Pac-12 North title, which means the Ducks are likely to play in the Pac-12 title game. So Mariota will have an extra game to not only pad his production, but he’ll also have a marquee matchup against a quality team to draw attention to his candidacy just as voters are filling out their ballots. Mariota and Oregon bounced back against Utah as he threw for 288 yards and three touchdowns in a 44-21 win. It looks like Mariota’s knee problems are preventing him from producing the rushing totals we’ve become accustomed to, but he’s still on pace for 4,300 yards and 45 total touchdowns, which is completely in line with what recent Heisman winners have produced. One hook that should start to emerge in his favor is his remarkable interception stat. Can he finish a full season without a pick? No quarterback has ever gone without an interception while attempting more than 350 passes in a season (Mariota is on pace to attempt 372) and his current streak of 353 attempts without a pick is 91 short of the all-time NCAA mark set by Colby Cameron of Louisiana Tech in 2011-12. If Mariota stays on his current pace and winds up with 33 passing touchdowns and no interceptions for a 12-1 team while breaking a few records along the way, he might remain a very attractive candidate to a lot of voters who at one time had him atop their ballots.
Last Game: 19/27, 288 yards, 3 TDs, 0 Ints, 4 carries, -18 yards in a 44-21 win over Utah
Season Stats: 183/285, 2,819 yards, 64.2%, 25 TDs, 0 Ints, 176.24 rating, 66 carries, 477 yards, 9 TDs
Next Opponent: at Arizona
Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 3,666 passing yards, 33 TDs, 0 Ints., 624 rushing yards, 12 TDs
4. AJ McCarron, Sr., QB, Alabama
McCarron is barely hanging on in this race and only the possibility that he might produce a dramatic outcome in the upcoming showdown with Auburn in a couple weeks keeps him relevant. He still has a lot of ground to make up, but the Auburn and SEC title games definitely 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. As it stands, he may not make it to New York, but with the uncertainty in the air about Winston, it’s hard to take him off this list just yet.
Last Game: 18/32, 187 yards, 2 TDs, 2 Ints in a 20-7 win over Mississippi State
Season Stats: 177/261, 2,228 yards, 67.8%, 21 TDs, 5 Ints, 162.24 rating
Next Game: Chattanooga
Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 2,899 passing yards, 27 TDs, 7 Ints
If the vote was held today:
6. Jordan Lynch
7. Teddy Bridgewater
8. Tajh Boyd
9. Andre Williams
10. Braxton Miller