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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Week 9 Heisman Watch

winston

Here is the week 9 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. Marcus Mariota, So., QB, Oregon

Mariota kept rolling against Washington State, piling up 394 total yards and three touchdowns in three quarters of play. He remains the front runner in this race and has a chance to pull away from the field with big games against UCLA and Stanford in the next few weeks. He had his first turnover of the season against the Cougars, but his overall touchdown-to-turnover ratio is still an astounding 29 to 1 (he has yet to throw an interception). He’s on pace to have 52 total touchdowns and over 4,700 yards of total offense by the time the Heisman vote is due, which would be one of the great seasons in college football history. As long as Oregon keeps winning and he keeps performing at this level, he’ll remain the strong favorite in this race.

Last Game: 23/32, 327 yards, 2 TDs, 0 Ints, 8 carries, 67 yards, 1 TD in a 62-38 win over Washington State

Season Stats: 123/197, 2,051 yards, 62.4%, 19 TDs, 0 Ints, 181.72 rating, 49 carries, 493 yards, 10.0 ypc, 9 TDs

Next Opponent: No. 12 UCLA

Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 3,809 passing yards, 35 TDs, 910 rushing yards, 17 TDs

2. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

Winston’s eye-popping numbers look even more impressive after passing for 444 yards and three touchdowns in FSU’s 51-14 thrashing of No.3 Clemson. He now has a chance to become the second-straight redshirt freshman to win the Heisman. Indeed, the only thing keeping him from leading this race right now is the fact that he is a first-year player who is still making himself known to the broader college football world. If the Seminoles make it through the season unscathed, he’ll benefit greatly from the ‘return to glory’ meme that will no doubt dominate the discussion. FSU is a traditional Heisman power that has gone through hard times during the last decade so Winston will get a lot of credit for bringing the Seminoles back. At this stage of the race, he looks like a lock to go to New York as a finalist. If Mariota has a major slip up and he finishes strong, he’ll likely become FSU’s third Heisman winner and first since Chris Weinke in 2000.

Last Game: 22/34, 444 yards, 3 TDs, 1 Ints, 1 rushing TD, in a 51-14 win over No. 3 Clemson

Season Stats: 112/157, 1,885 yards, 71.3%, 20 TDs, 3 Ints, 210.41 rating, 43 carries, 137 yards, 3 TDs

Next Game: North Carolina State

Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 4,082 passing yards, 43 TDs, 6 Ints, 299 rush yards, 6 TDs

3. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor

Petty had another amazingly efficient outing as Baylor destroyed Iowa State, 71-7. The Bears have now scored 70 or more points four times this season and stand at No. 6 in the AP poll, their highest ranking since 1980. Petty is arguably having an even better season than Robert Griffin III had when he won the Heisman two years ago. If he can lead Baylor past Oklahoma, he’ll start to get some serious Heisman buzz of his own. Voters are waiting to see what kind of player he is against quality competition and Baylor’s November schedule gives him the opportunity to prove himself.

Last Game: 23/31, 343 yards, 2 TDs, 0 Ints, 1 rushing TD in a 71-7 win over Iowa State

Season Stats: 103/145, 2,023 yards, 70.8%, 15 TDs, 1 Ints, 221.83 rating, 24 carries, 51 yards, 5 TDs

Next Game: at Kansas

Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 4,046 passing yards, 30 TDs, 2 INTs, 102 rush yards, 10 TDs

4. AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama

McCarron had another efficient game this past Saturday, throwing three touchdown passes in a blowout of Arkansas. He 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 modest production.

Last Game: 15/21, 180 yards, 3 TDs, 0 Ints in a 52-0 win over Arkansas

Season Stats: 126/182, 1,587 yards, 69.2%, 14 TDs, 3 Ints, 164.56 rating

Next Game: Tennessee

Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 2,951 passing yards, 26 TDs, 6 Ints

5. Sean Mannion, Oregon State

Mannion had another huge game over the weekend, throwing for 481 yards and four touchdowns against California. He remains on pace to have over 5,000 yards and 50 touchdown passes by the time the Heisman vote is due. Now comes the real test as the Beavers face the most difficult part of their schedule, starting with Stanford on Saturday. Mannion has a chance of getting to New York if he maintains his production at its current level while leading the Beavers to an upset win or two.

Last Game: 35/45, 481 yards, 4 TDs, 0 Ints in a 49-17 win over California

Season Stats: 229/334, 2,992 yards, 68.6%, 29 TDs, 3 Ints, 170.66 rating

Next Game: Stanford

Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 5,124 passing yards, 50 TDs, 6 Ints

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Heisman candidates strength of schedule to date

Here is the Sagarin strength of schedule rankings for the current crop of serious Heisman candidates:

Jameis Winston — 42nd

A.J. McCarron — 43rd

Marcus Mariota — 68th

Sean Mannion — 74th

Bryce Petty– 100th

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The ever-shrinking Heisman field

hundley

This past weekend of college football did quite a bit to ‘thin the herd’ of Heisman candidates.

We can now say with high confidence that the following players won’t be winning the Heisman this year:

Tajh Boyd

Brett Hundley

Teddy Bridgewater

Boyd had two possible routes to the trophy. First, he could’ve led Clemson to an undefeated season and a berth in the BCS title game. That, combined with a very good statistical season and a little luck, would have made him a very attractive candidate to voters. After Clemson’s loss to Florida State, that’s not going to happen. His other option was to produce a season that was statistically head-and-shoulders above most of the other contenders. While his production will be admirable and on par with his recent seasons, it won’t fit that bill either. It’s certainly possible that he could go on a tear the rest of the way and end up as a Heisman finalist, but his chances of actually winning the trophy have been virtually extinguished as a result of his performance in his team’s loss to FSU.

Hundley didn’t have to play for an undefeated team to win the Heisman, but he did need to perform very well in take downs of Stanford and Oregon to have a real shot at it. That didn’t happen against the Cardinal and the chances of it happening against Oregon seem remote. Nor will Hundley produce the kind of numbers that will able to overcome these deficiencies. Everything he does from this point on will serve as prologue for a 2014 run at the Heisman, should he choose to return for another year at UCLA.

Bridgewater’s Heisman hopes ended with Louisville’s loss to UCF on Thursday night. Because his schedule was so weak, the expectation by voters was that Bridgewater needed to (1) lead his team to an undefeated season and (2) produce a statistically remarkable season (something along the lines of what Sean Mannion is doing right now). Neither is happening and that’s why Bridgewater will have to be satisfied with merely being a top NFL draft pick next spring.

The exit of these three players from the race leaves us a dwindling Heisman field. Five now are left who can win:

Marcus Mariota

Jameis Winston

Bryce Petty

Sean Mannion

A.J. McCarron

There are other quality players out there like Derek Carr of Fresno State,  Jordan Lynch of Northern Illinois, Melvin Gordon of Wisconsin, Mike Evans of Texas A&M and Lache Seastrunk of Baylor who can each be a factor in the race and maybe even finish in the top five of the vote. But their ability to actually win is hamstrung by various factors.

Can anyone not currently on the Heisman radar emerge the same way Johnny Manziel did last season?

Well, at this time last season, Manziel was already identifiable as a candidate. I don’t see any other player out there with the potential to duplicate what he did during the home stretch, although Nick Marshall of Auburn might be close. After all, he is improving every week and has a huge matchup with Alabama in week 12 to cap things off. We’ll keep an eye on him, but it seems to be the longest of long shots.

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Week 8 picks

Time to reveal my plays of the week. These are the 10 games I would bet on if I were a degenerate gambler. For those who don’t know already, the first team listed is my pick, unless it’s an over/under selection. Odds provided by DocSports. If I were you, I’d bet on these games. You can thank me (or hate me) later. I went 6-4 last week so I’m hitting 57% on the season (40-30), so heed my advice!

Oregon State -11 at California

The Bears are reeling and the Beavers are rolling right now. Expect more of the same on Saturday

Oregon State 56, California 24

Missouri +3 vs. Florida

No one knows much about Maty Mauk, but the guy can throw. I think Mizzou doesn’t skip a beat with him in the lineup this week and the Tigers get the mild upset.

Mizzou 24, Florida 17

Baylor -33 vs. Iowa State

The Bears get that incredible offense back on track at home against the Cyclones. Huge game for Lache Seastrunk.

Baylor 63, Iowa State 21

Oklahoma State -7.5 vs. TCU

The Horned Frogs continue to struggle and OSU finally gets its offense back on track.

OSU 35, TCU 21

Utah +4 at Arizona

Utah keeps its momentum going after last week’s upset of Stanford, slows down Ka’Deem Carey in outright win.

Utah 31, Arizona 27

Ohio -16 at Eastern Michigan

The Bobcats bounce back from last week’s loss to Central Michigan with a good all-around effort vs. Eastern.

Ohio 38, EMU 17

Maryland -6 at Wake Forest

The Terps get CJ Brown back and Stefon Diggs has a big game as Maryland rolls.

Maryland 31, Wake Forest 17

Ohio State -18 vs. Iowa

The Buckeyes are well-rested after a bye week. Braxton Miller with the monster game as OSU takes it to the Hawkeyes.

Ohio State 45, Iowa 17

Georgia -6.5 at Vanderbilt

The Bulldogs bounce back after the upset loss to Mizzou as Aaron Murray comes through once again.

Georgia 27, Vanderbilt 17

OVER 63.5 Florida State at Clemson

Not sure who will win this one, but I think points will be scored a-plenty. Let’s give the edge to the home team in a barn burner.

Clemson 41, Florida State 38

Stanford -4.5 vs. UCLA

Lots of people picking the Bruins in an upset, but Stanford’s defense is too good (and proud) to get taken advantage of two weeks in a row. Stanford gets serious and comes away with the solid win.

Stanford 34, UCLA 24

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HP’s mid-season All-Americans

melvin-gordon

Here are my mid-season All-Americans.

Note: I pick a fullback because, after all, it is still a position in football (albeit a dying one).

Another note: I also pick an offensive line unit as opposed to individual OL players because otherwise I’d be pretending that I knew how well an individual lineman was performing from week to week.

OFFENSE

QB — Marcus Mariota, Oregon

He’s got 25 touchdowns running and passing. And no turnovers. That says it all.

RB — Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin

He’s been crazy explosive, averaging nearly 10 yards per carry.

FB — Kiero Small, Arkansas

He’s turned into a real weapon in the Razorback offense.

WR — Brandin Cooks, Oregon State

On his way to shattering Pac-12 receiving records.

WR — Antwan Goodley, Baylor

Already has five catches of 60-plus yards.

WR — Mike Evans, Texas A&M

Johnny Football’s No. 1 target and slayer of the Bama defense.

TE — Eric Ebron, North Carolina

Physically gifted tight end who can block as well as catch.

OL  UNIT — Texas A&M

One of the reasons Johnny Manziel is able to run around and improvise so much is that this unit gives him so much time and space to do so.

DEFENSE

DE — Vic Beasley, Clemson

The nation’s sack leader with 9 and the best end in the state of South Carolina.

DE — Michael Sam, Missouri

He’s got 10 tackles for loss already this season.

DT — Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh

Has a remarkable eight sacks and 12 tackles for losses despite playing on the interior.

DT — Leonard Williams, USC

Leads USC in tackles — rare for a lineman — and tackles for loss.

OLB — Anthony Barr, UCLA

Already has four forced fumbles and 10 tackles for loss.

OLB — Shaquil Barrett, Colorado State

Tied for the national lead with 12.5 tackles for loss.

ILB — Chris Borland, Wisconsin

Has 56 tackles, including 16 against No. 4 Ohio State.

ILB — C.J. Mosley, Alabama

The Tide’s field general on defense leads the team in tackles with 48.

CB — Ifo Ekpre-Olumu, Oregon

A true shutdown corner and one of the reasons for the much-improved Duck defense.

CB — Jason Verrett, TCU

Has 10 pass breakups and a pick so far this season.

S — Deone Bucannon, WSU

As hard a hitter as there is in college football; has four interceptions, 64 tackles.

S — Vinnie Sunseri, Alabama 

Instinctive player with two interceptions returns for touchdowns already this year.

Placekicker — Andy Phillips, Utah

He’s a perfect 11 for 11 this season.

Punter — Zac Murphy, Miami (OH)

He leads the nation with a 47.7 average.

Punt returner — Kevonte Martin-Manley, Iowa

Already has two TDs, averaging nearly 26 yards per return.

Kickoff returner — Ty Montgomery, Stanford

His work in the return game is the most positive thing going on at Stanford the last two weeks.

All-Purpose runner — Marion Grice, Arizona State

He has 10 touchdowns on the ground, 5 through the air. His 15 total TDs lead the nation.

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Where Mariota trumps Manziel

There are a couple factors in play for why Marcus Mariota has a distinct advantage over Johnny Manziel when it comes to the Heisman.

Leaving aside my theory that there will never be another two-time winner, consider these two issues:

1. Mariota is more likely to play in a 13th game.

There’s obviously a long way to go, but if the Ducks continue to win they will go on to play in the Pac-12 title game, most likely against a ranked team like UCLA or Arizona State. This gives Mariota an extra game to add to his overall production while making a final statement to Heisman voters. Meanwhile, because of Texas A&M’s loss to Alabama, it’s going to be tough for the Aggies to make the SEC title game, which means that Johnny Football will not only be sitting at home during that final weekend of college football, he’ll have one less game to add to his season resume. Note that when Manziel won last season, he did it with 12 games since A&M did not make the SEC title game last year either. But his main competition in the race — Manti Te’o and Collin Klein — also played 12 games and did not have the advantage of a conference title showdown to help their cause.

2. Mariota plays a more high-profile schedule the rest of the way

Games with UCLA and Stanford in back-to-back weeks — with the Stanford game coming on a Thursday night — plus a season-ender against an Oregon State team that could be ranked, gives Mariota at least three high-profile scenarios to make his case. Then there is the Pac-12 title game, which will be played one week before the Heisman is awarded. A&M, meanwhile, has a game with a ranked-but-not-highly-respected Auburn team coming up this Saturday and then a big matchup with LSU on Nov. 23. The problem is that the Tigers play Alabama in Tuscaloosa two weeks before they play A&M. If LSU loses to Alabama, a lot of the air will be taken out of the LSU-A&M matchup. There is also the season-ending game with currently-ranked Missouri, but with Tigers quarterback James Franklin out for the next month, that ranking may not hold up.

Of course, Mariota and Oregon could also lose some of these games, which would make these matters moot. But, assuming that both Oregon and Texas A&M win out, Mariota has a distinct structural advantage the rest of the way.

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The round up

Here’s the latest chatter about the Heisman…

The buzz surrounding Mariota and Mannion is good for the state of Oregon.

Is Jameis Winston ready for a ‘Manziel’ moment against Clemson?

This Heisman voter likes Mariota.

Bryce Petty is launching Baylor’s offense to new heights.

Gregg Doyel has Mariota as his front runner, too.

As you can tell, Mariota’s hype is picking up steam.

There’s always Super Bowl Bets and 2014 World Cup Betting.

Gus Malzahn called Johnny Manziel the greatest that ever played, along with Cam Newton.

Is Manziel even better this year?

Bobby Bowden says Winston is as good as anyone FSU has ever had.

This voter likes Tajh Boyd.

Brett Hundley could makes his case for the Heisman against Stanford.

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