Week 14 Heisman Watch

AJ McCarron

Here is the week 14 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. 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.

We’ve now reached the rare Heisman “re-set”, a scenario in which all the leading candidates hit a road bump, thus forcing the race to ‘reset’ to a new state with a different mix of candidates all legitimately vying for the trophy. Remember how you used to shake the ‘Etch-a-Sketch’ pad when you were little so you could start over? It’s kind of like that. Doesn’t happen very often with the Heisman, especially this late.

1. Jameis Winston, Fr., QB, Florida State

Winston’s possible march to the Heisman continued last Saturday, as he threw for 225 yards and four touchdowns (with no interceptions) in Florida State’s smashing of hapless Idaho. Given the dark legal cloud that hangs over his head, he remains a very tentative front runner in this race. It could be that the issue is resolved before votes are due and that he ends up with a comfortable win in the end. But if the issue is not resolved, the outcome of this race is clearly in doubt. If he is charged, he will not win. He’s got two games remaining against unspectacular opponents and I continue to wonder if this could produce enough ennui over his candidacy to compel voters to look at other options. As it is, he’s on pace to top the magic 40 total touchdown mark, which has been the minimum criteria in the past few seasons to compete for the Heisman. That he plays for a traditional Heisman power like FSU that just so happens to be competing for a national title makes him the safest bet in this race despite the off-the-field issues that swirl around him. Its seems possible that we’ll get some kind of resolution regarding the allegations the week after Thanksgiving, though it’s no sure thing. Voters will have some serious thinking to do on this matter.

Last Game: 14/25, 225 yards, 4 TDs, 0 Ints, in an 80-14 win over Idaho

Season Stats: 199/286, 3,163 yards, 69.6%, 32 TDs, 7 Ints, 194.50 rating, 62 carries, 126 yards, 3 TDs

Next Game: at Florida

Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 3,744 passing yards, 38 TDs, 8 Ints, 149 rush yards, 4 TDs

2. AJ McCarron, Sr., QB, Alabama

I wrote a couple weeks ago that McCarron was the ‘break glass in case of emergency’ candidate and it looks like we may have finally come to that point. While his statistics are low by recent Heisman standards, his status as the quarterback for the No. 1 team going for its third-straight national title gives him substantial leverage in this race. He has two huge matchups remaining, first against Auburn and then the SEC title game in which to make his case. Given the current state of the race, it’s possible he wins the Heisman without getting the most first-place votes by virtue of appearing on more ballots across the country.

Last Game: 13/16, 171 yards, 2 TDs, 0 Ints in a 49-0 win over Chattanooga

Season Stats: 190/276, 2,399 yards, 68.6%, 23 TDs, 5 Ints, 165.13 rating

Next Game: at No. 4 Auburn

Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 2,834 passing yards, 27 TDs, 7 Ints

3. Andre Williams, Sr., RB, Boston College

Williams has burst onto the Heisman scene thanks to one of the most dominant stretches by a running back in FBS history. He has gained 897 yards in his last three games and 1,235 in his last five. He is on pace to have the third-best season ever by a running back after Barry Sanders of Oklahoma State (2,628) and Kevin Smith of UCF (2,567). His presence in the race is quite a twist as not only was he not on anyone’s radar heading into the season, he wasn’t really much to talk about at the midway point either. He gives the Northeast region a rare home candidate and, being from Pennsylvania, he should also do well in the mid-Atlantic region. More importantly, he’s hit his stride at just the right time and just as other candidates are faltering. One more game remains against Syracuse and a lot of eyes will be on that one to see how he does. If Winston’s case is not resolved favorably and McCarron fails to ignite national interest in the next two weeks, Williams has a real chance to win if he finishes with a bang.

Last game: 32 carries for 263 yards, 2 TDs, in a 29-26 win over Maryland

Season Stats: 320 carries for 2,073 yards, 6.48 YPC, 16 TDs, 188.45 yards per game.

Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 2,261 rushing yards, 17 touchdowns.

4. Bryce Petty, Jr., QB, Baylor

Petty’s stumble to the one-yard line after having a clear path to a touchdown in the first quarter against Oklahoma State might be the most apt metaphor for this year’s Heisman race. The Baylor offense never really recovered after that, though Petty’s numbers certainly were more than respectable if you only looked at the box score. In any other year, such a performance would put a squash to his candidacy, but this race is not just any other race. With two games remaining, he has a chance to close out his season in a special way and end up with some pretty incredible numbers for a team that finishes 11-1. If Winston’s case goes bad, if McCarron doesn’t play well in his remaining two games, if Williams gets bottled up against the ‘Cuse and no other candidate emerges, he might be seen as a very acceptable candidate to just enough voters to eke out a win.

Last Game: 28/48, 359 yards, 2 TDs, 0 Ints, 46 rush yards, in a 49-17 loss to No. 10 Oklahoma State

Season Stats: 180/281, 3,351 yards, 64.1%, 26 TDs, 1 Ints, 194.05 rating, 64 carries, 173 yards, 10 TDs

Next Game: at TCU

Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 4,020 passing yards, 31 TDs, 1 INTs, 204 rush yards, 12 TDs

The Long Shots

Given the state of flux that the race is in, it’s very difficult to say with any certainty what’s going to happen from here on out. This is not normally the case at this point in the season. While I don’t see a path to victory for the following group of players, I think each one has the potential to either get to New York City or have some impact on the race’s final outcome.

Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois

Tajh Boyd, Clemson

Marcus Mariota, Oregon

Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona

Derek Carr, Fresno State

Braxton Miller, Ohio State

If the vote was held today

1. Winston

2. McCarron

3. Manziel

4. Williams

5. Petty

6. Lynch

7. Mariota

8. Miller

9. Carr

10. Carey

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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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