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Ranking the Heisman candidates

Miami v Florida State Getty Images

There’s one month to go before ballots are due from the country’s 925 Heisman voters. Here’s a look at the top five candidates and how they did over the weekend:

1. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State — Winston had a rather ordinary game against Wake Forest, passing for 159 yards and two touchdowns (with one interception) on 17 of 28 passing. But the Seminoles crushed the Demon Deacons, 59-3, so he wasn’t really needed. On the year, he has 2,661 passing yards with 26 touchdowns and seven interceptions. His passer efficiency rating is a sterling 192.23, which is second nationally. While his remaining schedule doesn’t hold much appeal, with matchups against Syracuse, Idaho, Florida and whoever FSU plays in the ACC title game, he should win the Heisman if he finishes strong.

2. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor — Petty accounted for five touchdowns — three passing, two rushing — in Baylor’s 41-12 victory over No. 12 Oklahoma. On the year, he has 2,657 yards and 21 touchdown passes with just one interception. He also has eight rushing touchdowns. With games remaining against Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas, he has a chance to raise his profile considerably if he continues to perform well and Baylor remains undefeated. Working in his favor is his 210.64 passer rating, which would shatter the NCAA record if the season ended today.

3. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama — McCarron moved another step closer to becoming the first quarterback to win three-consecutive national titles as he threw for 179 yards and three touchdowns in Alabama’s 38-17 win over No. 13 LSU. On the year he now has 2,041 passing yards with 19 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Games against Auburn and whoever Bama plays in the SEC title game should boost his candidacy just as Heisman voters receive their ballots.

4. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon — Mariota was knocked off his front runner’s perch after No. 5 Stanford beat No. 2 Oregon, 26-20. The sophomore threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns on 20 of 34 passing, but he was ineffective for much of the game. On the year, he’s got 2,531 passing yards, 22 touchdowns and no interceptions, with 495 rushing yards and nine scores. If he goes on a tear in Oregon’s final three games against Utah, Arizona and Oregon State, he has a chance to sneak back into the top spot if none of the other candidates finish strong.

5. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M — Johnny Football threw for 446 yards and five touchdown passes in A&M’s 51-41 win over Mississippi State. But he also threw three interceptions. On the season, he now has 3,313 passing yards with 31 touchdown passes and 11 picks, to go with 611 rushing yards and 8 scores. Remaining games at LSU and Missouri will give him a chance to make a final push at the trophy, but becoming the second-ever two-time winner is going to be a difficult proposition.

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19 Responses to “Ranking the Heisman candidates”
  1. be4bama says: Nov 10, 2013 6:12 PM

    AJ McCarron is the most valuable player in college football.

  2. 8to80texansblog says: Nov 10, 2013 6:22 PM

    MVP ≠ Best Player

  3. timh1955 says: Nov 10, 2013 6:45 PM

    The best coach in college football (Nick Saban) said last night that A. J. McCarron was the best QB in college football. I agree.

  4. sdemp says: Nov 10, 2013 6:47 PM

    I don’t believe it will be all QB’s that are invited to the heisman award show. I think adding or mentioning the top RB’s or WR’s would have been nice.

    Winston is clearly the favorite.

  5. timh1955 says: Nov 10, 2013 6:56 PM

    I think what will hurt Winston is the very easy schedule DSU has between now and the end of the season.

  6. BrownsTown says: Nov 10, 2013 7:02 PM

    Trent Dilfer has a Super Bowl ring.

  7. jimmy53 says: Nov 10, 2013 7:03 PM

    This is a tough year. I, obviously, want Winston to win and expect him to, but an argument could be made for so many players. Manziel has looked amazing at times, but if they’re not gonna give it to Peter Warrick then they should not going to give it to him. If they gave it for career stats then it would go to McCarron, but they don’t. This brings me back to Winston!

    GO NOLES!!

  8. gborange says: Nov 10, 2013 7:15 PM

    The most athletic and best player in college football is probably not even on the list. It’s not about the best player anymore, it’s all about team success. That’s why the heisman has mostly been a joke for the last 20 years.

  9. beastmode5150 says: Nov 10, 2013 8:11 PM

    Bishop Sankey.

  10. pushingiron says: Nov 10, 2013 8:35 PM

    Really? Petty above Johnny Football? Johnny has 1,300 more yards and ten plus TD’s more than Petty. Give me a break. Against the best team in the country he put up almost 600 yards.

  11. dprouse says: Nov 10, 2013 9:03 PM

    Johnny Football is literally carrying A&M on his back. You can’t help but think he’s being penalized for off- field issues, because on the field he has been even better than last year.

  12. firehouse70 says: Nov 10, 2013 9:33 PM

    Johnny being 5th on this list a joke! The aggies would be 4-4 at best without him. He is the best QB, best player period in college football

  13. chinahand11 says: Nov 10, 2013 11:42 PM

    Saban said A.J. is the best QB in college football? I’m shocked.

  14. tommy57 says: Nov 10, 2013 11:44 PM

    I agree with gobrange, the Heisman has lost much of its relevancy. Guys on this list are able to enhance their statistics against teams that don’t present much of a challenge.

  15. fearthehoody says: Nov 11, 2013 12:33 AM

    Where’s Brett Hundley?????

  16. longborer69 says: Nov 11, 2013 3:09 AM

    Brett Hundley is looking around Autzen Stadium for his Heisman credentials. All he found was a few crumbs the Ducks didn’t consume.

    Jonny Interception is into double digits, cost his team their two losses with turnovers, kept Ole Miss in the game with two turnovers, and kept a mediocre Mississippi State team in it with three INTs.

    McCarron only had 6 TDs and had 3 INTs the first four games. Since then, it’s 13 TDs and 0 INTs. Four TDs against A&M and now 3 against LSU. I’d say he now at least deserves to be in the conversation. I’ll post the stat breakdown in a few minutes, hopefully.

    Mariota gets dinged for the loss, but I wonder how much, especially given that he couldn’t run the ball all game due to that knee. Voters have showed in the past they are willing to vote for guys whose teams have lost. But he underthrew a wide open Huff on that first drive, and who knows how that changes the game if he hits him for a TD? Definitely hurt himself.

    I’ll include Petty, too, now that he has a win against a real team. Not entirely a believer yet.

  17. longborer69 says: Nov 11, 2013 8:33 AM

    Since people liked this last week, updated and reposted. Long and boring, as usual, from the longborer. I included sack stats this week.

    Candidates are listed in the order above. References to rankings are based on the coaches poll, even though it is sometimes a joke. They are based on the current ranking, not how overrated / underrated a team was at the time of playing.

    Manziel has played 10 games, Petty 8, the other three have played 9.

    Winston 166-240, 2661 yards, 11.01 yds/attempt, 26 TDs, 7 INT, 14 sacks.
    Petty 135-202, 2657 yards, 13.15 yds/attempt, 21 TDs, 1 INT, 6 sacks.
    McCarron 159-229, 2041 yards, 8.91 yds/attempt, 19 TDs, 3 INT, 8 sacks.
    Mariota 164-259, 2531 yards, 9.77 yds/attempt, 22 TDs, 0 INT, 13 sacks.
    Manziel 230-315, 3313 yards, 10.52 yds/attempt, 31 TDs, 11 INT, 15 sacks.

    Winston 53 carries, 157 yards, 3.0 / attempt, longest 20 yards, 3 TDs.
    Petty 44 carries, 118 yards, 2.7 / attempt, longest 20 yards, 8 TDs.
    McCarron 16 carries, -22 yards, -1.4 / attempt, longest 8 yards, 0 TDs.
    Mariota 62 carries, 495 yards, 8.0 / attempt, longest 71 yards, 9 TDs.
    Manziel 110 carries, 611 yards, 5.6 / attempt, longest 49 yards, 8 TDs.

    Plays includes carries and passes.
    Winston 2818 (313.1 / game), 293 plays (9.6 avg)
    Petty 2775 (346.9 / game), 246 plays (11.3 avg)
    McCarron 2019 (224.3 / game), 245 plays (8.2 avg)
    Mariota 3026 (336.2 / game), 321 plays (9.4 avg)
    Manziel 3924 (392.4 / game), 425 plays (9.2 avg)

    Volume stats are affected by the level of participation late in games. Fourth quarter attempts gives useful perspective when comparing volume stats:

    Winston: 18 passes, 5 rushes
    Petty: 8 passes, 4 rushes
    McCarron: 28 passes, 2 rushes
    Mariota: 20 passes, 6 rushes
    Manziel: 46 passes, 21 rushes


    Winston. FSU unbeaten, lowest margin 14 points (BC, 5-4), no other close games.
    Petty. Baylor unbeaten, lowest margin of victory 10 points (KSU, 5-4), no other close games.
    McCarron. Alabama unbeaten, lowest margin of victory 7 points (A&M, 8-2), no other close games.
    Mariota. Oregon one loss by six (Stanford, 8-1), no other close games.
    Manziel. A&M one loss by seven (Bama, 9-0), one by four (Auburn, 9-1), close wins by 3 (Ole Miss, 6-3), ten (MSU, 4-5) and twelve (Arkansas, 3-7).

    I’ve divided this between who they played, and who their opponents have beaten. A win counts as a quality win if they beat a team that is ranked or receiving votes.

    A) FSU beat two ranked teams (Clemson, Miami). Clemson is ranked six, and only lost to FSU.
    B) FSU defeated opponents have one quality win: Clemson (Georgia – receiving votes).

    A) Baylor beat one ranked team, Oklahoma (2 losses, only to ranked teams). They also beat Buffalo (two losses, both to undefeated top four opponents), who is receiving vote (as in, one vote).
    B) Baylor defeated opponents have three quality wins: Oklahoma (Texas Tech, Notre Dame, both receiving votes), KSU (La-Lafayette receiving votes, they really are!).

    A) Alabama beat ranked A&M (two losses, both to ranked teams) and ranked LSU (three losses). They also beat two teams receiving votes (Ole Miss, three losses all to ranked teams, Va Tech).
    B) Alabama defeated opponents quality wins: Va Tech (ranked Miami), Ole Miss (ranked Texas and ranked LSU — how is LSU ranked ahead of them, anyway?), Tennessee (ranked USCe), LSU (ranked Auburn), Arkansas (receiving votes La-Lafayette).

    A) Oregon lost to one-loss and ranked Stanford. They beat ranked UCLA (2 losses, both to ranked teams) and receiving votes Washington (3 losses all to ranked teams).
    B) Oregon defeated opponents quality wins: (Teams Oregon beat) Tennessee (ranked USCe), WSU (USC votes), UCLA (Nebraska votes).
    C) Oregon lost to an opponent with quality wins: Stanford (UCLA, ASU, both ranked, and Washington votes).

    A) A&M lost to top-ranked and unbeaten Alabama and ranked Auburn (one loss to a ranked team). They beat receiving votes Ole Miss (three losses, all against ranked teams).
    B) A&M defeated opponents quality wins: Ole Miss (LSU, Texas, both ranked), Arkansas (La-Lafayette votes) and Vanderbilt (Georgia votes).
    C) A&M lost opponents with quality wins: Alabama (ranked LSU, receiving votes Ole Miss & Va Tech) and Auburn (receiving votes Ole Miss).

    FSU: 2 (one more to come)
    Baylor: 3
    Alabama: 2 (one more to come)
    Oregon: 1
    A&M: 3

    Manziel two in each loss, two in the close win at Ole Miss, three in the close win against MSU. One turnover against Bama was a pick six.

    Winston had 1 INT against Clemson, two against Miami.

    Mariota had one fumble lost against Stanford, no turnovers against either Washington or UCLA.

    Petty had one fumble lost in the close game against KSU and no turnovers against Oklahoma.

    McCarron had no turnovers against A&M or LSU, one INT against Va Tech.


    Winston — 3 games left against weak opponents, then conference championship against maybe a ranked opponent (maybe Miami, maybe Va Tech, maybe Duke?).
    Petty — 4 games left, two ranked opponents (one top ten), one receiving votes.
    McCarron — 3 games left, two weak opponents, one ranked (top ten) opponent, then probably a conference championship against a top ten (or close) opponent.
    Mariota — 3 games left against solid but not ranked opponents, possibly a conference championship against a ranked opponent.
    Manziel — only 2 games left, both against ranked opponents.

    MY OPINION ON THE WEEK (which others may dispute):
    It is probably Winston’s to lose. He didn’t put up great numbers (and had another INT) but that is partly the fault of his own defense, which scored too much, taking away his chances.

    Take away Mariota’s running threat and he’s just a pretty good QB. One loss doesn’t kill a Heisman, but when most of the candidates are on undefeated teams, it hurts.

    Manziel, 3 more INTs, I think he’s done. He gave enough voters reasons to dislike him, and the INTs give them reasons to match their voting to their dislike.

    McCarron doesn’t have volume passing numbers, and is a negative running threat, but he’s playing error-free. It would be a team award if he got it.

    Petty is interesting. We wanted to see if he could do it against a good team. He did. Unfortunately, he’ll face good, but not any great teams, before the vote. Not the running threat of Mariota or Manziel, but the passing numbers are there, and only 1 INT. He’s the one player who perhaps has a chance to play himself ahead of Winston. His yards per play are well ahead of the others. And that Buffalo win keeps looking better and better the more they keep winning, too.

    I personally would have it Winston, then Mariota. I’d have Manziel and McCarron pretty much equal. I sort of forgave Johnny for turnovers against strong teams, that happens sometimes. But 3 INTs against MSU while McCarron came up big against LSU puts them side by side, to me.

    I don’t know where to put Petty. If he puts up the same kind of numbers against another decent team (Texas Tech), I’d put him second. If he keeps up the same production to the end, I’d put him even with or ahead of Winston. He’s doing it in only three quarters a game, and he’s not throwing any INTs.

    But that’s just my long and boring opinion.

  18. 8to80texansblog says: Nov 11, 2013 10:49 AM

    dprouse says: Nov 10, 2013 9:03 PM

    Johnny Football is literally carrying A&M on his back
    That’s a really good point. Johnny Manziel feels he HAS to score every possession since the defense is just SO bad. That leads to him forcing plays that may not be there.

    Again, 2 of his INTs this week were just bad decisions. One of them was a tipped ball that the WR had both hands on.

    He is though , carrying the Aggies almost all by himself. And while he has made mistakes, his play is spectacular for much of the time.

    I know I argue for him weekly, but I am a realist and know he has little to no shot of actually winning. Just too many things going against him, the biggest of which is the unwritten”no 2 Heismans rule”.

  19. coltzfan166 says: Nov 12, 2013 2:50 PM

    Imagine if Manziel was Bama’s QB and McCarron played at A&M. Bet McCarron wouldn’t look so good then.

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