Jameis Winston

What the BCS title game means to the 2014 Heisman race


It’s not unusual for bowl games to serve as launching pads for Heisman campaigns.

Matt Leinart’s MVP performance against Michigan in the 2004 Rose Bowl set the USC quarterback up as the 2004 Heisman favorite. Of course, he would go on to win the trophy.

Troy Smith’s running and passing explosion against Notre Dame in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl catapulted the Ohio State quarterback into the Heisman conversation the following season. He, too, would go on to win the award.

Even Tim Tebow’s goal-line proficiency against Smith’s Buckeye team in the 2007 BCS title game made him a known quantity heading into his Heisman-winning season.

So how will this year’s BCS title game shape the 2014 Heisman race?

Well, there’s one thing we can pretty much be sure of: No matter how well 2013 Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston plays against Auburn on Monday, the odds of him repeating as the Heisman winner in 2014 are remote.

There has been only one two-time winner in the history of the award, Ohio State’s Archie Griffin in 1974-1975. The list of winners who have failed to repeat since Griffin reads like a Who’s Who of college football lore.

Billy Sims. Ty Detmer. Jason White. Matt Leinart. Tim Tebow. Sam Bradford. Mark Ingram. Johnny Manziel. None of them were able to win that second trophy.

Only Sims finished higher than third the year after winning the Heisman. You have to ask yourself: If recent legends like Leinart, Tebow and Manziel couldn’t repeat, what kind of season will Winston have to have to be any different?

Think about all that had to happen for Winston to win the award just once. Ohio State’s Braxton Miller — the preseason fave — had to get hurt early. Oregon’s Marcus Mariota had to lose to Stanford and Arizona in November. A whole combination of wins and losses and disappointing performances by a variety of players were necessary to clear the way for yet another freshman to take home the trophy (just like in 2012).

Things will be different next fall. Heisman voters will be looking for fresh faces…and reasons not to vote for the guy who already won the award.

That means the opportunity is there for Nick Marshall and 2013 Heisman finalist Tre Mason (assuming he returns) to set themselves up in the upper echelon of Heisman contenders heading into 2014.

The BCS title game is the biggest stage in college football. If Marshall and Mason play well in an upset of FSU, their roles in Auburn’s magical run will be the focus of the sport during the offseason. This will be to their benefit in the Heisman race, as it will increase their Q rating with voters. One can reasonably expect both players to improve their numbers in 2014, especially given that they’ll be in their second year in Gus Malzahn’s system — the same system that helped Cam Newton produce a Heisman in 2010. If Auburn once again has a successful season and either Marshall or Mason are seen as the key protagonists in helping the Tigers get there, one of them could run away with the bronze statue.

Even if FSU wins, Marshall and Mason should join Mariota, Miller, Baylor’s Bryce Petty and UCLA’s Brett Hundley (if he returns) among the main preseason contenders for the 2014 Heisman. And Winston? Make no mistake about it, he’ll be in the mix as well, just like Manziel was this past year and Tebow was in 2008 and 2009. But for him to win again will require lightning to strike the same spot twice.

And if you are looking for some names out of the blue who might make a run at the Heisman next fall, here’s a list of five players (so far) who’ve raised their national profile the most by virtue of their bowl performances:

Jake Waters, Kansas State — He threw for 271 yards and three scores and added another 42 rushing yards against Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. He could be one of the best quarterbacks in the Big 12 next fall.

Cody Kessler, USC — The sophomore’s 345 yards and four touchdown passes in USC’s route of Fresno State in the Vegas Bowl showed he has the potential to have a highly-productive junior season.

Davis Webb, Texas Tech — Webb, a freshman, threw for 403 yards and four touchdowns in the Red Raiders’ upset of Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl. You know he’s going to put up huge yardage in the Tech system next year.

Trevor Knight, Oklahoma — The redshirt freshman had his best game as a Sooner, throwing for 348 yards and four touchdowns in Oklahoma’s upset of Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. He could be one of the better dual-threat quarterbacks in the country in 2014.

Derrick Henry, Alabama — Sure, the Crimson Tide lost to OU, but the freshman tailback was electric, rushing for 100 yards and a touchdown on eight carries while also adding a 61-yard touchdown catch. It’s going to be hard to deny Henry carries next fall, even if the Alabama backfield is crowded.

Oklahoma jumps from fifth to third in latest AP poll

Sterling Shepard

A 35-point win on the road in a de facto conference championship game was enough to push Oklahoma past Iowa for the third spot in the latest Associated Press top 25.

Clemson and Alabama retained the top two spots, while a trio of Big Ten teams in Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State occupied numbers four, five and six. Stanford moved to No. 7 after its last second win over Notre Dame, who tumbled from fourth to ninth. Ohio State jumped from No. 8 to No. 6, while Michigan tumbled to No. 19 after a 42-13 Buckeyes win in Ann Arbor.

Florida State moved into the top 10 after a 27-2 blowout of Florida (who fell from 10th to 18th), while TCU past Baylor after its double overtime slop-fest win on Friday night.

Utah, USC, LSU and Wisconsin moved into the poll, while Washington State, Mississippi State, Toledo and UCLA fell out.

The full rankings:

1. Clemson – 1,511 total points (53 first-place votes)
2. Alabama – 1,469 (8)
3. Oklahoma – 1,367
4. Iowa – 1,345
5. Michigan State – 1,318
6. Ohio State – 1,197
7. Stanford – 1,137
8. North Carolina – 1,085
9. Notre Dame – 1,022
10. Florida State – 951
11. TCU – 927
12. Baylor – 842
13. Northwestern – 711
14. Oklahoma State – 699
15. Oregon – 616
16. Ole Miss – 584
17. Houston – 571
18. Florida – 566
19. Michigan – 518
20. Temple – 269
21. Utah – 244
22. Navy – 206
23. LSU – 199
24. USC – 189
25. Wisconsin – 124

Clemson, ‘Bama, Iowa remain top three in latest Coaches’ Poll

Dabo Swinney

Hey, how about some actual on the field football news?

The latest Amway USA Today Coaches’ Poll was released Sunday afternoon, with the top three remaining entirely unchanged. Oklahoma moved up from fifth to fourth, while Ohio State is now just one spot behind Michigan State at sixth.

Michigan was this week’s biggest loser, falling from 12th to 19th, while USC leapt from 32nd to 24th thanks to a big win over UCLA.

The full poll:

1. Clemson – 1,558 points (52 first-place votes)
2. Alabama – 1,508 (8)
3. Iowa – 1,412 (1)
4. Oklahoma – 1,408
5. Michigan State – 1,350
6. Ohio State – 1,252
7. Stanford – 1,155
8. North Carolina – 1,107
9. Florida State – 1,054
10. Notre Dame – 994
11. TCU – 931
12. Baylor – 836
13. Northwestern – 768
14. Oklahoma State – 688
15. Florida – 655
16. Oregon – 634
17. Ole Miss – 595
18. Houston – 526
19. Michigan – 515
20. Utah – 287
21. Temple – 276
22. Navy – 223
23. LSU – 207
24. USC – 164
25. Wisconsin – 148

Rutgers reportedly ousts AD Julie Hermann, head coach Kyle Flood

Kyle Flood

Rutgers is reportedly heading into a Black Sunday fire sale, ousting AD Julie Hermann and head coach Kyle Flood on the same day.

The Ausbury Park Press reported early Sunday afternoon Hermann was fired at RU president Robert Barchi‘s house in a meeting that lasted all of 11 minutes. The first female athletics director in Big Ten history, controversy followed Hermann from her first day on campus, whether it was questions of possible mistreatment during her stint at Tennessee’s volleyball coach, to saying “it would be great” if Rutgers’ local paper went under, to making inappropriate statements about Jerry Sandusky to angering former Scarlet Knights player Eric LeGrand.

Shortly after the Hermann news broke, reports emerged stating Flood will follow Hermann out the door.

Flood began his tenure as Rutgers’ coach with a 9-1 start in 2012, but won just 18 of 41 games after that, including four of 16 games since joining the Big Ten.

In addition to stumbling on the field, Flood was suspended three games this season for academic violations and had multiple players suspended for crimes ranging from home invasion to assault.

Mike London resigns as Virginia head coach

Mike London
Associated Press
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Six unsuccessful seasons came for Mike London at Virginia came to an end Sunday, as the program announced its head coach had resigned.

From the school’s press release:

(AD Craig) Littlepage met with London this morning to discuss the future of the Virginia football program. At that time, Littlepage and London decided a change in leadership was in the best interests of the program. Littlepage has not specified a time frame for concluding the search, citing the fact that many of the possible candidates will be involved in postseason play. Littlepage will not make further comments until the search has concluded.

Hired away from Richmond after taking the Spiders to the 2008 FCS national championship, London went just 27-46 in his six years in Charlottesville. He appeared in only one bowl game — the 2011 Chick-fil-A Bowl, a 43-24 loss to Auburn — and won four of fewer games in four of his six campaigns.

Virginia considered ousting London after the 2014 season, but the Hoos thought a 5-7 campaign showed enough progress to retain him for 2015. That faith went unrewarded as Virginia went just 4-8 this fall, concluding with a 23-20 loss to Virginia Tech.

“I appreciate the opportunity to have been the head football coach at the University of Virginia and for the relationships that have been formed during my time in Charlottesville that will last for years to come,” London said in a statement. “I took this job to make a profound difference in the lives of young men and to re-establish Virginia football as one of the best programs in the ACC. While we were successful in the development of our players in many areas, I would have liked to have won more games for the student-athletes, coaches, fans and everyone that’s a part of the University of Virginia.”