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Winston suspended

jameis winston

Defending Heisman winner Jameis Winston was suspended for the first half of Florida State’s upcoming game against Clemson after the Seminoles quarterback allegedly shouted an obscenity into a microphone on campus.

You can pretty much wave bye-bye to Winston’s Heisman hopes at this point.

Winning that second Heisman was always going to be an uphill battle. We didn’t even have Winston on our preseason list due to Heismandment No. 9, which states there will never be another two-time winner.

But this latest incident could be the last straw for many Heisman voters.

Last year, voters gave him the benefit of the doubt after a late-breaking rape accusation ended with the Florida attorney general’s decision not to charge him with a crime. He went on to win the Heisman in comfortable fashion. Since then, however, he’s had a hard time keeping his nose clean. Voters are likely to be less forgiving this time around.

It’s really hard to win the Heisman once. It’s next-to-impossible to win it again, especially when people think you are a knucklehead.

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Who are the Heisman dark horses?

james conner

With the third week of the 2014 season now in the books, the Heisman race is starting to take shape.

However, we’ve seen some late-breaking runs at the Heisman in recent years, which means there could be some candidacies out there that are still in the percolating stage.

Here are a four to keep an eye on:

James Conner, So., RB, Pittsburgh — Conner’s 544 rushing yards are the most in the opening three games of a season in Pitt history. The prior mark was held by Tony Dorsett, who had 487 yards in the first three games of his 1973 freshman season. Is the 6-2, 250-pound Conner the next great Pitt tailback? If he’s still churning out yardage at or near his current clip (181 yards per game) by mid-season, the answer to that question will be ‘yes’.

D.J. Foster, Jr., RB, Arizona State – Foster has 510 yards and five rushing touchdowns in the first three games and he’s averaging a whopping 9.4 yards per carry. He also has 11 catches for 139 yards and a score. Big games against UCLA, USC and Stanford in consecutive weeks could put him on the Heisman map.

Gunner Kiel, So., QB, Cincinnati – You can’t get much better than Kiel’s debut against Toledo. The Notre Dame transfer threw for 418 yards and six touchdowns (with no interceptions) and opened with a passer rating of 215.97. Kiel is a big-time talent who has the potential to put together a monster season for the Bearcats.

Dak Prescott, Jr., QB, Mississippi State – Recent years have shown us that to compete for the Heisman as a quarterback, you pretty much have to put up over 4,000 yards of offense and at least 40 combined touchdowns. After three games, Prescott is on pace for 3,876 and 44 scores, so he’s in that wheelhouse.  It helps, too, that the Bulldogs might have their best team in quite a while.

Are there any redshirt freshmen on the horizon with a chance to emerge the same way Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston did in recent years?  Doesn’t look like it at this point.

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The HP Heisman Watch, Week 3

hill

Here is the week 3 edition of the 2014 HP 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, JR, QB, Oregon

It was another highly-productive day for Mariota as he threw for 221 yards and rushed for 71 with four total touchdowns against Wyoming (he played a little over one half of the game). He continues to be the clear front runner in this race and it looks like he may not face a true challenge to this status until early November.

Season Stats: 50 of 71, 806 yards, 70.4%, 8 TDs, 0 INTs, 202.9 rating, 20 carries, 156 yards, 3 TDs

Season Pace: 3,497 passing yards, 35 TDs, 676 rushing yards, 13 TDs.

2. Todd Gurley, JR, RB, Georgia

The beauty of playing running back is that if your team loses, you don’t get as much blame as the quarterback. Gurley certainly did as much as he could do in Georgia’s 38-35 loss to South Carolina, carrying the ball 20 times for 131 yards and one touchdown. He’ll remain a strong contender for the Heisman as long as he continues to churn out this kind of production. But to actually win, he’s going to need a magical game or two against some ranked opponents down the road.

Season Stats: 35 carries, 329 yards, 9.4 YPC, 4 TDs, 5 receptions, -1 yards, 100 yard kickoff return for a TD.

Season Pace: 1,974 rushing yards, 24 touchdowns.

3. Nick Marshall, SR, QB, Auburn

Marshall’s team had off this past weekend, but he’ll have a shot at making a splash in front of a national TV audience when the Tigers take on Kansas State on Thursday night. This is an important game for Marshall’s Heisman hopes as he needs a big outing to get back on a strong statistical pace.

Season Stats: 15 of 25, 151 yards, 56%, 1 TD, 0 INTs, 119.9 rating, 19 carries, 122 yards, 2 TDs.

4. Everett Golson, SO, QB, Notre Dame

Golson continues to play at a high level as Notre Dame moved to 3-0 after beating Purdue, 30-14. He threw for 259 yards and two touchdowns and added 56 yards and a touchdown on the ground. He’s off to a great start, but circle October 4 (Stanford) and October 18 (Florida State) on the calendar. Those dates will be Golson’s Heisman proving ground.

Season Stats: 62 of 92, 780 yards, 64.6%, 7 TDs, 0 INTs, 156.8 rating, 83 rush yards, 4 TDs.

Season Pace: 3,120 passing yards, 28 TDs, 332 rushing yards, 16 TDs.

5. Trevor Knight, SO, QB, Oklahoma

Knight threw for 308 yards and a touchdown and also added a rushing touchdown in the Sooners’ 34-10 victory over Tennessee. The next four games against West Virginia, TCU, Texas and Kansas State should tell us if he’s going to have the combination of production and team success needed to validate this ranking.

Season Stats: 60 of 101, 860 yards, 59.4%, 4 TDs, 2 INT, 140.0 rating, 14 carries, 69 yards, 2 TD.

Season Pace: 3,444 passing yards, 16 TDs, 276 rushing yards, 8 TDs.

6. Kenny Hill, SO, QB, Texas A&M

Hill threw for 309 yards and four touchdowns in A&M’s 38-10 victory over Rice. It’s pretty clear at this point that Hill is on his way to a very productive season in Kevin Sumlin’s system. The only question is how he and his team will perform against the likes of Auburn, Alabama and LSU in the second half of the season.

Season Stats: 81 of 117, 1,094 yards, 69.2%, 11 TDs, 0 INTs, 178.8 rating, 49 rush yards.

Season Pace: 4,368 passing yards, 44 TD passes, 196 rushing yards.

7. Bryce Petty, SR, QB, Baylor

Petty did exactly what he needed to do to stay in the Heisman race, throwing for 416 yards and four touchdowns in Baylor’s 63-21 win over Buffalo on Friday. If he can build on this game and go on a tear against the next five opponents, it will set the stage for a huge Heisman death match with Trevor Knight and Oklahoma.

Season Stats: 36 of 57, 577 yards, 63.2%, 6 TDs, 0 INTs, 182.9 rating, 4 carries, 32 yards, 1 TD.

Season Pace: 3,179 passing yards, 33 TDs, 176 rushing yards, 6 TDs.

8. Taysom Hill, JR, QB, BYU

The Mormon Manziel continues to impress in the air and on the ground. He threw for 200 yards, rushed for 160 and had two total touchdowns in BYU’s 33-25 win over Houston. His accuracy has really improved this year. It looks like the Cougars have a good shot at going undefeated, which means if Hill’s production continues at this pace, he stands a good shot at getting to New York.

Season Stats: 67 of 98, 689 yards, 68.4%, 4 TDs, 3 INT, 134.8 rating, 62 carries, 356 rush yards, 6 TDs.

Season Pace: 2,760 passing yards, 16 TDs, 1,428 rushing yards, 24 TDs.

9. Ameer Abdullah, SR, RB, Nebraska

Abdullah rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries in Nebraska’s 55-10 thrashing of Fresno State. There just aren’t that many marquee opponents on the Cornhusker schedule, so Abdullah is going to have to make the most of every opportunity. Some voters might perk up a bit if he has big games against Miami and Michigan State in the next few weeks.

Season Stats: 57 carries, 396 yards, 6.95 YPC, 3 TDs, 4 receptions, 105 yards, 1 TD.

Season Pace: 1,584 yards, 12 TDs, 16 catches, 420 yards, 4 TDs.

10. Melvin Gordon, JR, RB, Wisconsin

Gordon and Wisconsin had off last week and will now face a very soft stretch in the schedule. At this point, Gordon needs to churn out yards and touchdowns like there’s no tomorrow to steal some of the spotlight away from Todd Gurley.

Season Stats: 33 carries, 178 yards, 5.4 YPC, 1 TD, 4 receptions, 22 yards, 1 TD.

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The Round Up

Here’s the latest on what media are saying about the Heisman Trophy —

Taysom Hill and Everett Golson are on the rise according to USA Today.

Marcus Mariota leads the Orlando Sentinel’s Heisman Watch. And Sports Ilustrated’s.

Mariota gets two of three first-place votes from Heisman voters at the Columbus Dispatch.

A question about Kevlin Taylor no one should be asking.

Cory McCartney of Fox Sports asks if a wide receiver like Amari Cooper can win.

Heisman hype is building for Golson!

LSU freshman TB Leonard Fournette regrets popping the Heisman pose after scoring his first career touchdown against Sam Houston State last Saturday. I guess this is the kind of stuff that happens when people say you are going to win the Heisman as a true freshman.

fournette

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The HP Heisman Watch, Week Two

Discover BCS National Championship - Notre Dame v Alabama

Here is the week 2 edition of the 2014 HP 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, JR, QB, Oregon

Mariota is the strong leader in the Heisman race after leading Oregon to an impressive 46-27 victory over Michigan State. Mariota was 17 of 28 for 318 yards and three touchdowns (with no interceptions). He also rushed for 42 yards on nine carries. This kind of performance against such an elite defense gives him a potential trump card against his competition down the road. If he maintains his production and finally leads Oregon to a win over Stanford, he could cruise to the Heisman.

Season Stats: 31 of 48, 585 yards, 64.6%, 6 TDs, 0 INTs, 208.2 rating, 15 carries, 85 yards, 1 TD

2. Todd Gurley, JR, RB, Georgia

Gurley had off this week but moved up as the result of others moving down. He could further solidify his status as the main challenger to Mariota with a big game against South Carolina on Saturday.

Season Stats: 15 carries, 198 yards, 13.2 YPC, 3 TDs, 1 reception, -5 yards, 100 yard kickoff return for a TD.

3. Nick Marshall, SR, QB, Auburn

Marshall moved back into his starter’s spot at Auburn and led the Tigers to a 59-13 crushing of San Jose State. He threw for 101 yards and a touchdown and also added 103 rushing yards and a score. He’ll have his first chance to make some Heisman waves next Thursday when Auburn takes on Kansas State on the road.

Season Stats: 15 of 25, 151 yards, 56%, 1 TD, 0 INTs, 119.9 rating, 19 carries, 122 yards, 2 TDs.

4. Trevor Knight, SO, QB, Oklahoma

Knight was 21 of 34 for 299 yards and two touchdowns as Oklahoma beat Tulsa, 52-7. He also rushed for 35 yards and a score. The next two games against Tennessee and West Virginia should provide an opportunity to gain some early traction in the race.

Season Stats: 40 of 68, 552 yards, 58.8%, 3 TDs, 1 INT, 138.8 rating, 9 carries, 52 yards, 1 TD.

5. Everett Golson, SO, QB, Notre Dame

It’s been eight years since an Irish quarterback was in the Heisman mix and Golson is playing like he wants to break that string. He went 23 of 34 for 226 yards and three touchdowns in Notre Dame’s 31-0 whipping of Michigan. Games against Stanford and Florida State in October should determine his ultimate Heisman fate, but he’s off to a nice start.

Season Stats: 37 of 56, 521 yards, 66.1%, 5 TDs, 0 INTs, 173.6 rating, 27 rush yards, 3 TDs.

6. Brett Hundley, JR, QB, UCLA

The Bruins have looked far from sharp, which might not portend well for Hundley’s Heisman hopes. Nonetheless, he threw for 396 yards and three touchdowns on 33 of 44 passing against Memphis and remains a legitimate contender. Looming games against Texas, ASU and Oregon should tell us a lot more about the Bruins and their star quarterback.

Season Stats: 53 of 77, 638 yards, 68.8%, 3 TDs, 1 INT, 148.6 rating, 65 rush yards, 1 TD.

7. Ameer Abdullah, SR, RB, Nebraska

The argument that Nebraska should not have been struggling with McNeese State is besides the point. Abdullah’s remarkable catch and run with seconds to play saved the Cornhuskers from an embarrassing defeat. Great players make great plays at crucial moments and that’s what Abdullah did. He was held to 54 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, but he did catch three passes for 96 yards (and the decisive score) and also returned a kickoff 34 yards.

Season Stats: 38 carries, 286 yards, 7.53 YPC, 2 TDs, 4 receptions, 105 yards, 1 TD.

8. Javorius Allen, JR, RB, USC

Allen had a career-high 154 yards to help lead the Trojans to a mild upset of Stanford in Palo Alto. It looks like Allen has the potential to be the most productive USC running back since Reggie Bush. If he manages to break off big games against the likes of UCLA and Notre Dame at season’s end, he’ll probably be in the Heisman mix.

Season Stats: 45 carries, 287 yards, 6.4 YPC, 1 TD, 1 reception, 23 yards.

9. Kenny Hill, SO, QB, Texas A&M

Hill went 17 of 26 for 283 yards and four touchdowns in a 73-3 laugher against Lamar. The next four games should be relatively smooth sailing for the Aggies…and then the fun begins. Matchups with Ole Miss, Alabama, Auburn, Missouri and LSU will be quite the gauntlet for Hill. If he makes it to New York, he will have earned it.

Season Stats: 61 of 86, 794 yards, 71%, 7 TDs, 0 INTs, 11 rush yards.

Season Stats:

10. Taysom Hill, JR, QB, BYU

Hill threw for 181 yards and rushed for 99 yards and three scores in BYU’s 41-7 romp over Texas. Hill’s continued improvement as a passer plus his running ability makes him a very intriguing candidate. Unfortunately, the Cougars don’t have any marquee opponents left on their slate, so Hill’s production is going to have to speak for itself.

Season Stats: 46 of 63, 489 yards, 73%, 3 TDs, 1 INT, 36 carries, 196 rush yards, 5 TDs.

11. Melvin Gordon, JR, RB, Wisconsin

Gordon needs to rush for 2,000 yards to have a shot at the Heisman, so getting 38 yards on 17 carries against Western Illinois isn’t going to help his cause much. It could well be that Gordon is not 100%, so that could hamper his production moving forward.

Season Stats: 33 carries, 178 yards, 5.4 YPC, 1 TD, 4 receptions, 22 yards, 1 TD.

12. Bryce Petty, SR, QB, Baylor

It’s going to be hard for Petty to win the Heisman after missing what amounts to 1.5 games so far this season. He sat out Baylor’s win over Northwestern State due to a cracked vertebrae and will return to action this Friday against Buffalo. But he’ll need to go on a major tear to get back in the race. Of course, this is quite possible given his talent and the system in which he plays, but the margin for error is pretty thin.

Season Stats: 13 of 23, 161 yards, 56.5%, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 2 carries, 21 yards, 1 TD.

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Mariota’s first Heisman test

marcusmariota

The rash of late-breaking Heisman winners in recent years can be partially blamed on the dearth of high profile September matchups in college football. Heisman voters need information on how players perform against quality opponents and, lately, that data hasn’t reached a critical mass until rivalry week or the conference championship games.

But this Saturday’s game between No. 7 Michigan State and No. 3 Oregon gives voters a rare early-season opportunity to make a clean assessment of the qualifications of current Heisman front runner Marcus Mariota.

Not only do we have two ranked teams from power conferences meeting up for the first time since 1999, we also have two distinct styles colliding as Oregon’s uptempo spread offense goes up against the physical, swarming, 4-3 defense of defending Rose Bowl champ Michigan State.

All eyes will be on Eugene for this one. If you have any questions about Mariota, they should be answered.

Not that those tuning in will be doubting Mariota’s physical talent; there is broad consensus that his skill set will lead to a very early selection in next year’s NFL draft (though he is eligible to return to Oregon for one more season). Nationally, the Ducks command a tremendous amount of respect as a program due to their 67 wins in the last six seasons. But the one thing Oregon has missed during the Mariota years is a signature win over a top 10 opponent.

That’s what voters will be looking for on Saturday. They want to see a transcendent Mariota.

Simply put, if Mariota works his magic against Pat Narduzzi’s defense while leading the Ducks to a victory, the Heisman will be his to lose. It’s not common for that to be the case so early in the season, but the level of respect for Michigan State’s defensive prowess is so high right now that any player who can make it look mortal will be seen as superhuman — if not Heisman worthy. All else being equal, a win over the Spartans would be Mariota’s trump card against his Heisman competition.

Though the rewards will be great if Mariota shines, this game is also fraught with peril for his candidacy. If he stumbles against the Spartans and his team falls, then the margin of error for reviving his quest will be razor thin the rest of the way.

I doubt we’ll get a mixed Heisman outcome from this matchup. Afterwards, I think we’ll either be exalting Mariota’s talents, or shaking our heads in amazement over that Spartan defense.

Can’t wait.

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The HP Heisman Watch, Week One

gurley (1)

Here is the week 1 edition of the 2014 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, JR, QB, Oregon

Mariota looked sharp (as expected) in Oregon’s 62-13 victory over South Dakota, but that was just a tune up for the mega tilt this Saturday against No. 8 Michigan State. The Heisman front runner will further solidify his status if he plays well against the tough Spartans defense.

Week One Stats: 14 of 20, 267 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 231.64 rating, 6 carries, 43 yards, 1 TD.

2. Nick Marshall, SR, QB, Auburn

Marshall sat out portions of Auburn’s 45-21 win over Arkansas due to a suspension. His numbers were dampened as a result, but they should pick up as the season progresses. While the schedule sets up nicely for Marshall, it will be interesting to see if Jeremy Johnson eats into his production a bit in subsequent games. If so, then Marshall will tumble down this list.

Week One Stats: 4 of 6, 50 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 136.67 rating, 8 carries, 19 yards, 1 TD.

3. Todd Gurley, JR, RB, Georgia

Gurley jumped four spots from last week’s Heisman Watch thanks to a monstrous effort in Georgia’s 45-21 win over No. 16 Clemson. He rushed for 198 yards and three scores and also added a touchdown on a 100-yard kickoff return. So far, so good, but staying healthy will be the key for him this season. If he has another great game against South Carolina this weekend, he’ll likely emerge as Mariota’s main challenger for the Heisman.

Week One Stats: 15 carries, 198 yards, 3 TDs, 1 KOR, 100 yards, 1 TD.

4. Trevor Knight, SO, QB, Oklahoma

There aren’t many marquee games on Oklahoma’s early-season schedule, which means Knight’s performances probably won’t be getting much attention for a while. He had a decent game against Louisiana Tech, but he’ll need to pick up his statistical pace in the next few weeks in order to stay in contention for the Heisman.

Week One Stats: 19 of 34, 253 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 122.21 rating, 4 carries, 17 yards.

5. Bryce Petty, SR, QB, Baylor

Petty had an abbreviated outing against SMU due to an injured back. It doesn’t look to be a serious matter, but it did result in a rather un-Petty-like stat line. We won’t hear much from him until the Bears take on Texas a month from now.

Week One Stats: 13 of 23, 161 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 144.02 rating, 2 carries, 21 yards, 1 TD.

6. Brett Hundley, JR, QB, UCLA

The Bruins offense looked sluggish in a closer-than-expected win against Virginia, but there will be plenty of opportunities for Hundley to showcase his talents this season. For now, the question is whether UCLA’s rather porous offensive line will be able to keep him off the ground.

Week One Stats: 20 of 33, 242 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 122.21 rating, 15 carries, 39 yards, 1 TD.

7. Melvin Gordon, JR, RB, Wisconsin

Gordon was brilliant against a very athletic LSU defense, gaining 140 yards and scoring a touchdown on just 16 carries. For some reason, he only had two carries in the second half, which led to the Badgers blowing a 24-7 lead before losing to the Tigers. The schedule ahead should allow for high-level production by Gordon, but he won’t play another team of consequence until mid November.

Week One Stats: 16 carries, 140 yards, 1 TD.

8. Everett Golson, JR, QB, Notre Dame

Golson looked sharp in his first game back after missing all of 2013, totaling five touchdowns in Notre Dame’s thrashing of Rice. This week’s game against Michigan will give us an inkling into whether this kind of production will be a trend or an aberration. If it becomes a trend, he’ll rocket up this list.

Week One Stats: 14 of 22, 295 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 206.28 rating, 12 carries, 41 yards, 3 TDs.

9. Ameer Abdullah, SR, RB, Nebraska

Abdullah is already ahead of his junior year pace after cranking out a career-high 232 yards against Florida Atlantic. If he can get to 600 yards by the time the Cornhuskers face Miami, he might have a shot at reaching the magical 2,000-yard mark, which would make him a serious Heisman candidate.

Week One Stats: 21 carries, 232 yards, 1 TD, 1 rec., 9 yards.

10. Javorius Allen, JR, RB, USC

Allen got off to a nice start with 133 yards against Fresno State. If he goes off against Stanford on Saturday, he’ll be viewed as the Pac-12’s top running back and move up this list.

Week One Stats: 22 carries, 133 yards, 1 TD, 1 catch, 23 yards.

11. Kenny Hill, SO, QB, Texas A&M

It was just one game, but Hill’s incredible debut in a win on the road against South Carolina was probably the most talked-about performance of the weekend. He plays in a system that almost guarantees elite production, so if he proves his mettle in wins against Alabama, Auburn and LSU, he’ll be in the Heisman conversation all season.

Week One Stats: 44 of 60, 511 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 161.37 rating, 7 carries, 5 yards.

12. Taysom Hill, JR, QB, BYU

Hill was almost effortless in piling up 405 yards of total offense and five touchdowns in BYU’s 35-10 crushing of Connecticut. It looks like his passing skills have really improved, which means he has the potential to have a 3,000/1,000 season. If he has the kind of game he had this past week while beating Texas on Saturday, look for the Heisman chatter to begin.

Week One Stats: 28 of 36, 308 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 177.15 rating, 12 carries, 97 yards, 2 TDs.

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