While getting off to a hot start isn’t necessarily required to win the Heisman, it’s been the rule of late.
Here’s a look at the last six Heisman-winning quarterbacks, with their total offense and touchdowns after their first four games:
Jameis Winston — 1,159 yards, 14 TDs
Johnny Manziel — 1,460 yards, 16 TDs
Robert Griffin III — 1,481 yards, 19 TDs
Cam Newton — 1,168 yards, 14 TDs
Sam Bradford — 1,266 yards, 17 TDs
Tim Tebow — 1,454 yards, 17 TDs
It looks like producing at least 1,150 yards of total offense and 14 combined touchdowns by game four is a fairly good indication of who’s going to challenge for the Heisman…at least in the current college football climate.
Here are the quarterbacks who have hit those numbers so far in 2014:
Connor Halladay, WSU — 1,845 yards, 16 TDs
Marcus Mariota, Oregon — 1,349 yards, 16 TDs
Shane Carden, ECU — 1,488 yards, 14 TDs
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State — 1,342 yards, 14 TDs
Rakeem Cato, Marshall — 1,338 yards, 14 TDs
Obviously, things look pretty good for Mariota, especially considering he’s already gone up against one elite defense. Prescott is also promising, while Carden and Cato could stir up some long shot trophy talk if they continue this pace.
A few more quarterbacks are on the bubble, statistically, and could move into this group soon, including Kenny Hill, Maty Mauk, Dylan Thompson, Jacoby Brissett, Anu Solomon, Brandon Doughty, Everett Golson and Gunner Kiel (who has 730 yards and 10 TDs in just 2 games).
Let’s keep in mind, though, that statistics aren’t everything when it comes to winning the Heisman. We’re unlikely to see Halladay get a single vote, even if he ends up leading the nation in total offense. That’s because voters take other things into account, such as team success, tradition, impact of system, quality of competition and career resume.
We’ll check in again on these numbers when we hit game six.