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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Marcus Mariota takes over lead in HeismanPundit Heisman Straw Poll

marcus-mariota

Marcus Mariota‘s big game against a ranked Washington team on the road this past Saturday has pushed him into the lead in the latest HeismanPundit Heisman Straw Poll released on Tuesday (Oct. 15).

The Oregon sophomore collected 7 out of 10 first-place votes and tallied 25 points to finish six points in front of defending Heisman winner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M (3 first-place votes, 19 points). Manziel had led the previous three polls.

Both sophomores were well ahead of the rest of the field, reflecting their dominance in the first half of the season.

Jameis Winston of Florida State was third with five points while Sean Mannion of Oregon State was fourth with four points.

Now in its eighth season, the HeismanPundit.com Heisman Straw Poll is the college football world’s most trusted gauge of Heisman voter sentiment. It has been the most accurate Heisman poll in the country during the past seven seasons, with the final 2012 poll correctly picking the top five finishers and the final 2011 poll picking the top seven. This year’s poll is made up of 10 anonymous Heisman voters from across the country. Each week during the season they will pick three players. Tabulations for the preseason poll are tabulated like a real Heisman ballot, with three points awarded for a first-place vote, two points for a second-place vote and one point for a third-place vote.

Each week’s poll is released on Tuesdays throughout the season at HeismanPundit.com.

The HeismanPundit.com Heisman Straw Poll, 10/15/2013

Total Points (with first place votes in parentheses)

1. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon — 25 (7)

2. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M — 19 (3)

3. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State — 5

4. Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon State — 4

5. (tie) Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson — 2

Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor — 2

Duke Johnson, RB, Miami –2

8. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville — 1

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Week 8 Heisman Watch

sean-mannion

Here is the week 8 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 shined in his first true test of the season, totaling 454 yards of offense and four touchdowns against No. 15 Washington on the road. He now has 25 total touchdowns on the season and no turnovers, a remarkable stat that could gain traction with Heisman voters if it continues for much longer. He remains on pace for 54 combined touchdowns by the time the Heisman vote is due, which is ahead of what Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel produced in their trophy-winning years. He takes on Washington State this week and then faces UCLA and Stanford in two crucial games that could determine whether or not he wins the Heisman and, if so, by how much.

Last Game: 24/31, 366 yards, 3 TDs, 0 Ints, 13 carries, 88 yards, 1 TD in a 45-24 win over Washington

Season Stats: 100/165, 1,724 yards, 60.6%, 17 TDs, 0 Ints, 182.37 rating, 41 carries, 426 yards, 10.4 ypc, 8 TDs

Next Opponent: Washington State

Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 3,735 passing yards, 37 TDs, 923 rushing yards, 17 TDs

2. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson

Boyd helped Clemson avoid a letdown against Boston College, throwing for 334 yards and a score while adding another TD on the ground. We now come to the true test of his candidacy — this week’s huge matchup with Florida State. All eyes will be on this game and if he leads the Tigers to a win over the Seminoles, then he’ll clinch — at minimum — a trip to NYC as a Heisman finalist. His numbers project out to be Heisman worthy. All that’s left is for Boyd to show that he can get his team to the next level.

Last Game: 30/44, 334 yards, 1 TDs, 0 Ints, 9 carries, 33 yards, 1 TDs in a 24-14 win over Boston College

Season Stats: 123/185, 1,783 yards, 66.5%, 15 TDs, 2 Ints, 172.05 rating, 66 carries, 187 yards, 2.8 ypc, 5 TDs

Next Opponent: Florida State

Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 3,861 passing yards, 33 TDs, 4 INTs, 403 rushing yards, 11 TDs

3. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor

Petty had another fine day on Saturday, throwing for 342 yards and three touchdowns (with another rushing TD) on the road against Kansas State. The Bears struggled a bit on offense and managed ‘only’ 35 points and 446 yards of offense. But that was mainly due to the stagnant running game. Petty was still still his unstoppable self as he hit on TD throws of 93, 72 and 54. While this wasn’t the kind of win that will impress voters, it nonetheless showed that Petty can perform well under pressure. It now looks very likely that Baylor will be 7-0 when it plays Oklahoma on Nov. 7. If Petty’s astronomical 230.59 efficiency rating holds up and the Bears beat the Sooners, then Petty will start to get some serious Heisman buzz.

Last Game: 13/22, 342 yards, 3 TDs, 0 Ints, 9 carries, -15 yards, 1 TD in a 35-25 win over Kansas State

Season Stats: 80/114, 1,690 yards, 70.2%, 13 TDs, 1 Ints, 230.59 rating, 23 carries, 45 yards, 4 TDs

Next Game: Iowa State

Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 4,056 passing yards, 31 TDs, 2 INTs, 108 rush yards, 10 TDs

4. Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA

Hundley had a career passing night, throwing for 410 yards in a win over California as the Bruins are off to their first 5-0 start since 2005. Hundley has excellent production and now just needs to make a splash with a good performance in a big win over a quality opponent. A road game this Saturday with a No. 13 Stanford team that suddenly looks beatable should fit the bill. If Hundley engineers the upset, it could set up a mega-Heisman-showdown the following week with Mariota and Oregon.

Last Game: 31/41, 410 yards, 3 TDs, 0 Ints, 9 carries, 18 yards in a 37-10 win over California

Season Stats: 109/160, 1,469 yards, 65.5%, 12 TDs, 4 Ints, 165.0 rating, 61 carries, 260 yards, 4.3 ypc, 3 TDs

Next Game: at Stanford

Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 3,822 passing yards, 31 TDs, 8 INTs, 676 rushing yards, 8 TDs

5. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

Winston has looked fantastic for Florida State in the early going and can lead the Seminoles to their first 6-0 start since 1999 by beating Clemson this Saturday. The matchup with the Tigers gives Heisman voters a chance to contrast Winston with Tajh Boyd, another prime contender. Playing well in a win over Clemson would catapult him into serious contention for the trophy. If he can maintain his production while keeping FSU undefeated, he’ll likely be the second-straight redshirt freshman to get to NYC as a Heisman finalist.

Last Game: 23/32, 393 yards, 5 TDs, 0 Ints in a 63-0 win over Maryland

Season Stats: 90/123, 1,441 yards, 73.2%, 17 TDs, 2 Ints, 213.94 rating, 36 carries, 135 yards, 2 TDs

Next Game: at Clemson

Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 3,744 passing yards, 44 TDs, 5 Ints, 351 rush yards, 4 TDs

6. AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama

McCarron threw for a career-high 359 yards against Kentucky and remains on the periphery of the Heisman race. While his production can’t match that of the other candidates, his status as the quarterback of the No. 1 team gunning for a third-straight national title gives him a platform to remain a contender — so long as he finishes the season with a kick. If he becomes the Tide’s first quarterback to throw for 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns in a regular season, then he’s got a shot at the Heisman if his team remains undefeated and some of the other candidates fall by the wayside.

Last Game: 21/35, 359 yards, 1 TD, 0 Ints in a 48-7 win over Kentucky

Season Stats: 111/161, 1,407 yards, 68.9%, 11 TDs, 3 Ints, 161.17 rating

Next Game: Arkansas

Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 3,042 passing yards, 24 TDs, 6 Ints

7. Sean Mannion, Oregon State

Normally a candidate from Oregon State would be a non-starter, but Mannion’s numbers are too much to ignore. He’s currently on pace for 5,000 passing yards and 50 touchdowns, a remarkable number for a quarterback in a non-air-raid offense. While it’s unlikely that he keeps up his current pace, games with Stanford and Oregon will give him the chance to prove to voters that he is for real. I think OSU has to win at least one of those games for Mannion to have a realistic shot at the trophy.

Last Game: 34/51, 493 yards, 4 TDs, 1 Ints in a 52-24 win over Washington State

Season Stats: 194/289, 2,511 yards, 67.1%, 25 TDs, 3 Ints, 166.59 rating

Next Game: at California

Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 5,016 passing yards, 50 TDs, 6 Ints

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Mariota’s first test

Oregon’s Marcus Mariota is off to a great start this season and many would probably say, well, he should be.

He’s piled up 21 combined touchdowns running and passing against the weakest part of the Ducks schedule. Thanks to his stellar play, though, Oregon is doing what great teams should be doing to lesser competition — blowing them out. The Ducks are winning by an average score of 59-12 and Mariota is putting up his gaudy numbers despite not playing in large chunks of second halves.

As a result, Mariota is this site’s current favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. He has been ever since Braxton Miller bowed out of the race with a leg injury.

But Mariota’s Heisman worthiness will ultimately be determined by how he plays in the next four games. The Ducks take on No. 16 Washington, an improved Washington State team, No. 11 UCLA and No. 5 Stanford in the next month.

First up is the road trip to take on the Huskies this Saturday. Washington gained a lot of respect by playing Stanford tough last week and now Mariota has a chance to start accumulating capital with Heisman voters by leading his team over UW in a hostile environment.

It helps that this is probably the marquee game of the day. ESPN’s Game Day will be in Seattle and we’ll be sure to see lots of love coming Mariota’s way. The game is in the heart of the afternoon, so lots of voters will be tuning in.

If Mariota plays well and Oregon wins, he’ll pass his first test and further solidify his status as the front runner in this race. If he doesn’t play well and Oregon still wins, he’ll be in decent shape since he can make up for it with big games later against UCLA and Stanford. If Washington pulls off the upset, it won’t be fatal to Mariota’s Heisman hopes, since he also has a chance to win the Heisman via a spectacular statistical season (like the way Johnny Manziel did last year with two losses). The wildcard, of course, is the details of what happens in the game. Mariota might have a Heisman moment and score the winning touchdown, or he may throw a key pick with the game on the line. Or the game might be a quick blowout that causes viewers to tune out.

Whatever the case, we should have a much clearer view of the Heisman race come Monday.

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Cross Teddy Bridgewater off your Heisman list

teddy-bridgewater-jon-bostic-hit

Teddy Bridgewater is a really good quarterback who will likely be among the first selections in next spring’s NFL draft.

But he’s not going to win the Heisman Trophy this year.

This was abundantly clear after seeing how he and his team looked in defeating Rutgers, 24-10, on Thursday night.

Bridgewater’s production was fine. He went 21 of 31 for 310 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.

But Bridgewater can’t have ‘fine’ numbers and win the Heisman. His main problem going forward is that his statistics likely won’t end up being good enough to overcome the accurate perception that he plays against a very weak schedule. The memory of that Sugar Bowl win over Florida last season is fading and his team has not exactly been gangbusters against some lesser foes this year (see: less-than-impressive wins over Kentucky, Temple, Rutgers).

As it stands, Bridgewater is on pace to have a very good statistical season. Projecting his numbers out, we’re looking at 3,744 passing yards, 36 touchdown passes and 4 interceptions.

But, given the schedule he has faced, voters are expecting more. Bridgewater toils in an offensive system that may make NFL dinosaurs smile, but it doesn’t allow the talented junior to keep up with the production of his Heisman competition. Given his schedule, I thought Bridgewater needed to approach 50 touchdown passes to win the Heisman. But I don’t see that happening at this point.

See you in the NFL, Teddy.

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Week 7 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 had my first losing week of the season last week, going 4-6, but I’m still hitting 57% on the season (34-26), so heed my advice!

Here are this week’s picks:

Texas A&M -6.5 at Mississippi

Johnny Football had two weeks to prepare and I think the Aggies come out on fire in this one. I think we’ll see lots of scoring with A&M pulling away at the end.

Texas A&M 45, Ole Miss35

Stanford -9 at Utah

The Utes just don’t have the dynamism to attack the Stanford defense. Meanwhile, I think the Cardinal will snap back from a tepid offensive performance last week.

Stanford 34, Utah 13

LSU -7 vs. Florida

Florida has excellent corners and this will be a tough challenge for Zach Mettenberger, but I think the wheels come off Tyler Murphy a bit and LSU asserts itself on defense.

LSU 24, Florida 14

Oregon -13 at Washington

I think Washington invested a lot in its loss to Stanford last week. That was a game that better-suited UW’s style. This one, not so much. The Huskies get some points but can’t stop the Oregon juggernaut.

Oregon 52, Washington 35

Northwestern +10 at Wisconsin

The Wildcats nearly pulled off the upset of Ohio State last week and I think they’ll bounce back and beat Wisconsin outright as Venric Mark has a big game.

Northwestern 27, Wisconsin 24

Alabama -27 at Kentucky

The Tide are quietly putting together a nice stretch of defense, having allowed no touchdowns in its last 12 quarters. I think there’s a chance that streak goes to 16 against the Wildcats.

Alabama 38, Kentucky 9

Oregon State +2 at Washington State

I’m a little surprised that WSU is favored in this one. Sean Mannion has another huge day and the Beavers get the mild upset.

Oregon State 42, Washington State 28

Boise State -7 at Utah State

Without Chuckie Keeton, I don’t think Utah State will get much done on offense. Joe Southwick should play well and lead the Broncos to an easy win.

Boise State 31, Utah State 10

Nebraska -15 at Purdue

The Cornhuskers are actually starting to roll a bit with Tommy Armstrong at QB. But Taylor Martinez should also be back from injury as well and the Nebraska offense should overwhelm Purdue.

Nebraska 49, Purdue 21

Baylor -17.5 at Kansas State

The Wildcats have played fairly tough the past two weeks but I don’t think they can stop the Baylor offense. The Bears won’t score 70, but they’ll score over 45 and win this one going away.

Baylor 52, Kansas State 27

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Jameis Winston jumps to third in latest HeismanPundit Heisman Straw Poll

winston

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston’s hot start has catapulted him into third place in the latest HeismanPundit Heisman Straw Poll released on Tuesday (Oct. 8).

The redshirt freshman has 17 touchdown passes in his first five games, including a 5-TD effort against Maryland this past Saturday. As a result, he collected 11 points and one first-place vote from the weekly panel of Heisman voters.

Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M leads the poll for the fourth week in a row. He tallied 20 points and six first-place votes to beat out Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, who had 15 points and two first-place votes.

Aaron Murray of Georgia was fourth with seven points while Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater collected the other first-place vote to place fifth.

Now in its eighth season, the HeismanPundit.com Heisman Straw Poll is the college football world’s most trusted gauge of Heisman voter sentiment. It has been the most accurate Heisman poll in the country during the past seven seasons, with the final 2012 poll correctly picking the top five finishers and the final 2011 poll picking the top seven. This year’s poll is made up of 10 anonymous Heisman voters from across the country. Each week during the season they will pick three players. Tabulations for the preseason poll are tabulated like a real Heisman ballot, with three points awarded for a first-place vote, two points for a second-place vote and one point for a third-place vote.

Each week’s poll is released on Tuesdays throughout the season at HeismanPundit.com.

The HeismanPundit.com Heisman Straw Poll, 10/8/2013

Total Points (with first place votes in parentheses)

1. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M — 20 (6)

2. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon — 15 (2)

3. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State — 11 (1)

4. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia — 7

5. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville — 3 (1)

6. Duke Johnson, RB, Miami — 2

7. (tie) Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor — 1

Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson — 1

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Week 7 Heisman Watch

boyd

Here is the week 7 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. It’s a long view of the race that takes into account schedule and statistical trends.

1. Marcus Mariota, So., QB, Oregon

Mariota put up a combined seven touchdowns in less than three full quarters of play as Oregon scored over 50 points for the fifth-straight time (only the second time this has happened in college football history). The ‘preseason’ portion of Mariota’s season now draws to a close with him on a pace to have one of the best seasons in college football history. He is on pace for 54 combined touchdowns by the time the Heisman vote is due, which is ahead of what Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel produced in their trophy-winning years. The portion of the season where he can all-but clinch the Heisman by proving his worth against quality foes now begins, with games versus ranked teams Washington, UCLA and Stanford in the next four weeks.

Last Game: 16/27, 355 yards, 5 TDs, 0 Ints, 7 carries, 43 yards, 2 TDs in a 57-16 win over Colorado

Season Stats: 76/134, 1,358 yards, 56.7%, 14 TDs, 0 Ints, 176.33 rating, 28 carries, 338 yards, 12 ypc, 7 TDs

Next Opponent: at Washington

Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 3,536 passing yards, 36 TDs, 884 rushing yards, 18 TDs

2. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson

Boyd is starting to go on a tear. He had five touchdown passes and a career-high 455 passing yards in Clemson’s win over Syracuse this past Saturday. Over the last two games, he has 766 yards and nine total touchdowns. He’s currently on pace for 46 total touchdowns, which would be right in the wheelhouse of what recent Heisman winners produced. The matchup two weeks from now with Florida State will be the real key to his Heisman hopes, though. If he leads the Tigers to a win over the Seminoles, it makes it quite possible that Clemson goes undefeated which, in turn, will make Boyd a very attractive candidate to Heisman voters.

Last Game: 20/27, 455 yards, 5 TDs, 2 Ints, 8 carries, -5 yards, 0 TDs in a 49-14 win over Syracuse

Season Stats: 93/141, 1,449 yards, 66%, 14 TDs, 2 Ints, 182.22 rating, 57 carries, 154 yards, 2.7 ypc, 4 TDs

Next Opponent: Boston College

Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 3,770 passing yards, 36 TDs, 5 INTs, 403 rushing yards, 10 TDs

3. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia

Murray is demonstrating a remarkable resiliency in the face of adversity. His teammates around him are dropping like flies — including UGA’s top two running backs and two of its top three receivers — yet he is still willing his team to victories. Not known for being a runner, he even ripped off a key 57-yard run in the Bulldogs’ dramatic 34-31 win over the Volunteers this past Saturday. If he can guide UGA without a loss the rest of the way, it will come with a very high degree of difficulty and no doubt illustrate his importance to his team. Oh, he also became the SEC’s all-time leading passer against Tennessee. So long as he is the glue holding Georgia together, he’ll be within striking distance of capturing the trophy.

Last Game: 19/35, 196 yards, 3 TDs, 0 Ints, 3 carries, 53 yards, in a 34-31 win over Tennessee

Season Stats: 98/151, 1,534 yards, 64.9%, 14 TDs, 3 Ints, 176.87 rating, 3 rush TDs

Next Game: Missouri

Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 3,978 passing yards, 36 TDs, 8 Ints, 8 rush TDs

4. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor

Baylor is quickly becoming one of the stories of this college football season thanks to an offense that has a chance to wind up as the best of all time. Petty is the driver of this machine and his numbers are almost as absurd as his team’s. The narrative surrounding this offense, plus the possibility that Baylor is shaping up to be a serious contender for its first-ever Big 12 title, increases his chances of seriously challenging for the Heisman. The prime difference between what he is doing and what Robert Griffin III did early on when he won the Heisman is that Petty isn’t getting as many chances to produce given the lopsided margins in which his team is involved. That will likely change soon, as Baylor’s schedule gets progressively more difficult, starting with Kansas State this week. Petty hasn’t faced any adversity yet, but he will. How he handles himself when it arises will give us more clues as to his Heisman worthiness.

Last Game: 17/25, 347 yards, 2 TDs, 1 Ints, 4 carries, 23 yards, 1 TD in a 73-42 win over West Virginia

Season Stats: 67/92, 1,348 yards, 72.8%, 10 TDs, 1 Ints, 229.61 rating, 14 carries, 60 yards, 3 TDs

Next Game: at Kansas State

Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 4,044 passing yards, 30 TDs, 3 INTs, 180 rush yards, 9 TDs

5. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

Bridgewater dropped a spot this week because, while he had a very nice game against Temple, he’s not going to win the Heisman by having a bunch of very nice games. Given the paucity of quality opponents on his schedule, he needs to start having amazing games. Right now he is on pace to pretty much do what he did last year, but that’s not going to be enough to get to New York.

Last Game: 25/35, 348 yards, 2 TDs, 0 Ints in a 30-7 win over Temple

Season Stats: 104/145, 1,562 yards, 71.7%, 16 TDs, 1 Ints, 197.23 rating, 15 rushes, 38 yards, 0 TDs

Next Opponent: Rutgers

Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 3,744 passing yards, 38 touchdowns, 3 interceptions

6. Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA

Hundley was solid in a hard-fought win at Utah on a Thursday night. His 36-yard fourth-quarter touchdown scamper provided his team with the winning margin. He’s maintaining enough quality production to put himself in position to upend the Heisman race in a few weeks by playing well in back-to-back games against Stanford and Oregon. Those two games will ultimately determine his Heisman fate.

Last Game: 17/27, 211 yards, 1 TD, 1 Int, 20 carries, 85 yards, 1 TD in a 34-27 win over Utah

Season Stats: 78/119, 1,059 yards, 65.5%, 9 TDs, 4 Ints, 158.54 rating, 52 carries, 242 yards, 4.7 ypc, 3 TDs

Next Game: California

Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 3,445 passing yards, 29 TDs, 13, INTs, 793 rushing yards, 10 TDs

7. AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama

McCarron rebounded with a nice statistical game against Georgia State, but he’ll need to go on a tear the rest of the way to make a run at the trophy. The schedule is favorable enough for him to do that before taking on LSU in a true test of his candidacy. If he leads his team past the Tigers, that’ll set up a potential mega-matchup with Georgia in the SEC title game. Anything could happen at that point.

Last Game: 15/16, 166 yards, 4 TDs, 0 Ints in a 45-3 win over Georgia State

Season Stats: 90/126, 1,048 yards, 71.4%, 10 TDs, 3 Ints, 162.72 rating

Next Game: at Kentucky

Projected stats by time of Heisman vote: 2,730 passing yards, 26 TDs, 7 Ints

On the cusp: Lache Seastrunk, Baylor; Zach Mettenberger, LSU; Jameis Winston, FSU

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