Setting the stage for the 2013 Heisman Trophy ceremony

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Saturday night, and even as anyone with an Internet connection or television set already knows who it will be, one of six players will take home one of the most prestigious awards in all of sports, the Heisman Trophy.

More than likely, viewers won’t be tuning in to see who wins; rather, they’ll take a peek to see if Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston can make it a historic night vote-wise while also becoming the second straight redshirt freshman to claim college football’s highest honor.

Ahead of that ceremony, here’s a quick primer on tomorrow’s activities as well as a brief historical look at the iconic stiff-armed trophy.

WHAT: the 79th Annual Heisman Memorial Trophy
WHERE: New York City
WHEN: Sat., Dec. 14, at 8 pm ET on ESPN
WHO: In addition to Winston, the finalists are Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, Auburn running back Tre Mason, Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron and Boston College running back Andre Williams.

Winston, in his first year as a starter at this level, has already set a slew of school and national freshman records in helping FSU to its first BCS title game since the 1999 season.  Winston finished the regular season leading the nation in passing efficiency; second in passing touchdowns and yards per completion; and eighth in passing yards.

Manziel, of course, is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, becoming the first redshirt freshman to capture the award last year.  In attempting to become the second player to win back-to-back Heismans, Manziel has actually thrown for more yards (3,732-3,706), has more touchdown passes (33-26) and a higher completion percentage (69.1-68) than he did last season.  Where Manziel has lagged is with his feet; after rushing for 1,410 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2012, the A&M quarterback totaled “just” 686 and eight in 2013.

In leading the nation in rushing with 2,102 yards, Williams has topped the 200-yard mark five times and the 300-yard mark once in putting up the ninth-best single-season rushing performance in FBS history.  He’s also just the second BC Eagle to be named a finalist, joining 1984 winner Doug Flutie.  While Lynch plays quarterback, he’s second to Williams in rushing yards with 1,881 and is tied for third in the nation with 22 rushing touchdowns.  The NIU senior is just the third player ever from the MAC to be named a Heisman finalist, joining a pair of players from Marshall — wide receiver Randy Moss (1997) and Chad Pennington (1999).

Tied for third in the country in rushing touchdowns with Lynch is Mason, who, like his Tigers team, seemingly came out of nowhere toward the end of the season to put both himself and his program in the national spotlight.  Mason’s 1,621 yards are sixth in the nation and played a significant role in putting the Tigers into the BCS title game against Winston’s Seminoles.

In McCarron’s three years as a starter, the Tide has gone 36-3 and won a pair of BCS championships.  He’s eighth in the country in passing efficiency this season after finishing No. 1 in 2012, and has thrown just 15 interceptions — and 75 touchdowns — in 996 career attempts.

Finally, some historical tidbits on college football’s biggest award.

FIRST AWARDED: Dec. 9, 1935
FIRST WINNER: University of Chicago running back Jay Berwanger
2012 WINNER: Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel
TWO-TIME WINNER
: Ohio State running back Archie Griffin (1974 & 1975)
TAINTED WINNER: USC running back Reggie Bush, who had his 2005 win vacated because of NCAA improprieties.
CLASS BREAKDOWN
: 56 seniors, 17 juniors, three sophomores and one freshman.  Just one senior (Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith, 2006) has won the award the past nine years.
POSITION BREAKDOWN: 38 running backs, 31 quarterbacks, three fullbacks and one cornerback; Yale’s Larry Kelley (1936) and Notre Dame’s Leon Hart (1949) are listed as ends on the official Heisman website.  While running back is the position most often awarded, quarterbacks have won 11 of the last 12, the lone exception being Alabama’s Mark Ingram in 2009.
VOTER BREAKDOWN: The Heisman Memorial Trophy electorate is comprised of 928 sports journalists and every living former Heisman winner — 870 of the former, 58 of the latter. The United States is broken down into six sections (Far West, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Northeast, South and Southwest), with 145 media members from each section.

Notre Dame CB Nick Watkins announces intent to transfer

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Notre Dame cornerback Nick Watkins will be playing somewhere else this fall. Watkins announced, via Twitter, he will be leaving the Irish behind in search of a new program to complete his college football career.

As a graduate transfer, Watkins will be eligible to play with any new program this fall.

“When I decided to attend Notre Dame, my primary goal was to earn a degree from this prestigious university, and I’m proud to say that I’ll achieve that goal,” Watkins said in his statement. “With that being said, I’ll search for a new school to attend for my last year of college football.”

Last season Watkins appeared in 12 games for the Irish and recorded 21 solo tackles and seven assisted tackles. He also broke up eight passes and recorded an interception. Watkins played as a backup for Notre Dame and likely would have played a similar role this fall if he stayed in South Bend, but the former four-star recruit has potential to land a starting job in the right situation.

Ohio State super fan signed memorial photo of Earle Bruce, and Ohio State players were not happy

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The Ohio State football family paid their last respects to former Buckeyes head coach Earle Bruce this week, from family, friends, former players, coaches, and fans. Among those paying their respects was one of Ohio State’s most visible fans, the so-called Buck-I-Guy (the one who dresses up like a cowboy, and not the face-painting fan you see during every broadcast of an Ohio State game). A memorial photo of Bruce to be signed by Bruce’s former players accumulated plenty of signatures, but one of those signatures was not welcome by Bruce’s former players.

A sign made it clear the photo was to only be signed by former coaches and players that have played for or worked under Bruce. Whether he missed the sign or just felt he was as much a part of the Ohio State football program as the players, the self-proclaimed “Buck-I-Guy” signed the photo.

The signature clearly did not sit well with Ohio State players, and somebody ended up obscuring Buck-I-Guy’s signature by covering it up with an image of a buckeye.

Helmet sticker to Eleven Warriors.

Oregon’s Fotu Leiato arrested after removing vehicle’s parking boot

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For the second time this week, we’ll be forced to rest the “Days Without An Arrest” ticker back to double zeroes.

The latest to do the deed is Fotu Leiato, with the Eugene Register-Guard reporting that the Oregon outside linebacker was arrested Wednesday evening by university police on charges of second-degree criminal mischief and second-degree theft.  It’s alleged that Leiato removed a parking boot from the vehicle he was driving; it’s unclear what led to the parking boot being attached in the first place.

The Register-Guard also writes that “Leiato was also booked into the jail on a failure to appear warrant from Eugene Municipal Court, stemming from a second-degree criminal trespass charge.” What led to that charge is unclear as well.

All three of the charges Leiato is facing are misdemeanors, and the football program has yet to publicly address the developments.

The rising fourth-year senior has played in 37 games the past three seasons, including all 13 in 2017.  His lone start came during the 2017 season against Southern Utah.  He’s been credited with 37 tackles, one tackle for loss and two passes defensed during his collegiate career.

Michigan heads to France for Wolverines’ European Vacation, The Sequel

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Brace yourself, Paris, for the 2018 version of the Khaki Invasion.

Last year around this time, the Michigan football program took a trip to Italy as part of a spring practice schedule that included meeting the Pope as well as distributing backpacks to refugees.  Thursday, as previously announced, the U-M program is leaving Ann Arbor to head to Paris and Normandy for what this year will be strictly a true vacation as the Wolverines’ have already put the finishing touches on their 15 spring practice sessions this year.

According to mlive.com, this year’s trip will include “tours of the famous Louvre Museum, Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame Cathedral, a football clinic for locals, civic and community service events.”

“It’s an educational opportunity,” head coach Jim Harbaugh said according to the Detroit News. “(We all) connect. Not all learning is done in the classroom or on the football field.”

The Wolverines will be entering their fourth season under Harbaugh.  In the previous three years, they’ve gone a combined 28-11 and finished third (2015), third (2016) and fourth (2017) in the Big Ten East.  Last year, Harbaugh was the highest-paid coach in the Big Ten and the third-highest in the country at just a shade over $7 million.