Heisman Watch Week Six: McCarron, Winston and Boyd Set The Tone

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Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M had the week off to prepare for Ole Miss. Though the toughest part of Manziel’s season, his matchup with Alabama, is behind him, he still has plenty of chances to make an impact in the Heisman race with strong performances against schools like upcoming Auburn and Mississippi State, not to mention a showcase meeting with LSU as the season winds down in late November.

Tajh Boyd

Four hundred and fifty-five yards will jump out at you on a stat sheet and a box score. That’s what strikes you first when you look at Clemson’s easy win over Syracuse from Saturday. Clemson certainly didn’t need the five touchdowns Body contributed to the win, but it was sure to fun to watch Boyd pick apart the new-to-the-ACC Orange defense in his time in the game before coach Dabo Swinney took his star out.

Teddy Bridgewater

Playing in the newly formed American Athletic Conference for the first time Saturday, Teddy Bridgewater and Louisville had little trouble with Temple, using a 24-point first half and suffocating defense to top the Owls. Bridgewater, for his part, contributed two touchdowns and 348 passing yards to help the Cardinals breeze by Temple and continuing their undefeated start to the season.

AJ McCarrron

Georgia State might not have put up much fight against Alabama and AJ McCarron, but McCarron took his game to a different level, as he completed 15 of 16 passes for four touchdowns and 166 yards. His completion percentage set a record for Crimson Tide and the victory was an easy walkover for the Tide before their SEC schedule sets in.

Marcus Mariota  

Seven touchdowns, no matter who they are scored against, is an impressive stat line for any quarterback to submit in a college football weekend. Yes, Marcus Mariota passed for five touchdowns and ran for two more against Colorado, but it was a stunning line none the less. Mariota also pushed near to 400 yards against the Buffaloes. The Ducks didn’t even score after the third quarter and Mariota played little more than a half.

Jameis Winston

A ranked matchup against Maryland should have promised a tough battle between two ACC schools in the middle of the conference’s resurgence. Instead, Winston and Florida State demolished the Terrapins, with Winston delivering highlight reel play after highlight reel play. Add to that SportsCenter-ready package Winston’s 393 passing yards and five touchdowns and you’ve got a Heisman highlight-type game that could stick out this year.

Aaron Murray

Though Georgia’s matchup with Tennessee didn’t seem to offer much in the way of drama, the SEC battle turned out to be among the weekend’s best games, and offered one of the week’s best performances in support of a victory, in Aaron Murray’s charge to lead the Bulldogs’ rally for a win. Importantly, Murray’s comeback bid helped Georgia keep its national title hopes alive as well with his 196 yards and three touchdowns

Heisman Watch Week Three: Manziel Has Flare, But McCarron Claims The Victory

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Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel might not have led Texas A&M to an upset victory over Alabama, but he did just about everything he could to make it so, passing for five touchdowns, 464 yards and rushing for 98 more. And all that against the Crimson Tide defense. Say what you will about not getting the victory here, but Manziel had two strong “Heisman moment” type plays here, despite them not panning out. If Manziel can rebound from the tough loss in the weeks to come, he should be just fine.

Tajh Boyd

Tahj Boyd and Clemson had week three off, but his season thus far is simply hard to ignore. With three touchdowns each on the ground and through the air and a big, already season-defining victory against Georgia under his belt, Boyd seems to be in the Heisman discussion for the long-haul. Expect him to come out gunning in the Tigers’ ACC opener against NC State on Thursday.

Teddy Bridgewater

Teddy Bridgewater was effective but quiet against Kentucky in week three, only passing for 250 yards and a touchdown. But Bridgewater didn’t make any mistakes and woke Louisville up when they started shakily against the Wildcats. For that, Bridgewater can continue to rest comfortably in the midst of the race, and prepare to fight the season-long battle for the trophy.

AJ McCarrron

The start to AJ McCarron’s season was not as planned. Though Alabama won its first contest against Virginia Tech, the numbers weren’t there. Not so on Saturday against Manziel and Texas A&M, and though Johnny Football may have had the flashier performance, McCarron left College Station with the victory and, importantly, his statistics were as solid as they’ve ever been. McCarron tossed four touchdowns and recorded 334 yards passing in the win while completing 69 percent of his passes.

Marcus Mariota  

Marcus Mariota was just wicked against Tennessee on Saturday. It was a slow start for the Ducks, but just about as soon as Twitter turned everyone’s attention to the Vols’ early lead, Mariota and the Ducks made it disappear. Mariota finished the day with 456 yards passing, 27 yards rushing and five combined touchdowns. Mariota ruled a fantastic day for the Ducks and solidified his name in this race for the foreseeable future.

Others To Watch

Melvin Gordon

Big numbers for the Badgers running back against Arizona State, but that’s a loaded back field he’s a member of.

De’Anthony Thomas

Another 100-yard-plus game and a touchdown scored, but continues to be outdone by his own quarterback.

Jameis Winston

Has more touchdowns than incompletions through three weeks. Recalls the likes of Robert Griffin III and Geno Smith. One of those guys Winston would be wise to aspire to.

Heisman Watch Week Two: Mariota, Manziel and Wisconsin’s Backfield Do Damage

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Johnny Manziel

Much quieter and more composed this week after serving his half-game suspension last week, it was the Johnny Manziel show against Sam Houston State for the Texas A&M Aggies. The sophomore quarterback threw for 403 yards and three touchdowns against the Bearkats, and added another touchdown on the ground. Could Manziel actually repeat as the Heisman winner? These first few games have certainly put it in the realm of possibility.

Devin Gardner

Far be it from the coaches’ of Notre Dame and Michigan to place much significance on their last scheduled regular season meeting, but Devin Gardner certainly arrived with all the urgency the fan bases place on the game on Saturday night. Tossing four touchdown passes and rushing for 82 key yards, Gardner was absolutely invaluable to the Wolverines’ attack. Without his offensive prowess, who knows where Michigan would have been against the Fighting Irish.

Teddy Bridgewater

Teddy Bridgewater was stylish in his second appearance and victory of the season, throwing for 397 yards and four touchdowns in Louisville’s romp over Eastern Kentucky, 44-7. It was Bridgewater’s final touchdown strike, a 42-yard pass to DaVante Parker that was a highlight. Next Bridgewater will get another chance for a big statistical performance against Kentucky next weekend.

Corey Clement/Melvin Gordon/James White

These three Wisconsin backs have done something so outrageous in the first two weeks that the three of them are vying for the Heisman as a triad. Three running backs, all from Wisconsin, all running for more than 100 yards in two consecutive games. Sure, it was Tennessee Tech and UMass, but seriously, what team can do that other than the Badgers? These three have helped the Badgers compile 780 yards rushing over two games. Unreal. It’s early, we can get away with naming three Heisman candidates in one.

Marcus Mariota  

Against Virginia, Marcus Mariota kept his strong start to the 2013 season going, passing for two touchdowns, but really proving a highlight maker on a long, 71-yard touchdown run when the Cavaliers were hanging around. With the help of Thomas, Mariota finished the game with 319 yards of total offense and continues to pace the Oregon offense under its new leadership.

Others To Watch

Jadeveon Clowney

Clowney was again less of an impact-maker than you might expect in a big SEC conference game against Georgia, again failing to meet expectations.

Tahj Boyd

Not even the biggest box score impact among Clemson quarterbacks for Tahj Boyd, although that was more than likely by design. Does he stay in the race?

Aaron Murray

Huge bounce back performance from the Georgia quarterback against South Carolina with four touchdowns and, more importantly, the win.

De’Anthony Thomas

Is there anyone in college football as fast as the Ducks’ burner? Probably not. But he’s being slightly outshone by his quarterback compatriot. We’ll see what’s next for Thomas.

Jameis Winston

The FSU quarterback shone more brightly than any last week, but with an off-week this weekend, maybe he fades a little. But the upstart stays in the conversation, that’s for sure.

2013 Preseason Heisman Watch: Johnny Football Has Plenty of Competition

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Johnny Manziel

A wilder offseason could not have been imaginable for Johnny Manziel, the first freshman ever to win the Heisman Trophy and now the de facto favorite for the trophy headed into 2013. But has the off-field persona detracted from the monster that made SEC defenses tremble throughout 2012?

We can only wait until kickoff to find out whether Manziel can replicate 3,706 yards passing, 1,410 yards rushing and 47 combined touchdowns of 2012 while leading the preseason top-five Aggies.

Braxton Miller

Somehow, leading a 12-0 Ohio State team wasn’t nearly enough to get Braxton Miller a Heisman Trophy invite last season. In years past, such an accomplishment would have netted any Buckeye at least an invite, and a likely trip to the BCS title game, but on a schedule widely viewed as soft and ineligibility for the postseason, Miller was passed over.

Collecting 2,039 yards passing, 1,271 yards rushing, 28 total touchdowns again this season, when the Buckeyes are among the national title favorites, would likely put Miller’s name at the top of the heap. Let’s see if he can do it again.

AJ McCarron

AJ McCarron has the chance in 2013 to capture another national title. The man’s already been affiliated with three title winners at Alabama, after redshirting during the first of the three titles under Nick Saban in 2009. Yet, the quarterback on the best team in the nation, a position that usually nets some Heisman hype.

But despite nearly 3,000 yards passing and 30 touchdown tosses against just three interceptions, McCarron didn’t even register in the top 10 in 2012. Why can he do for an encore in 2013?

Jadeveon Clowney

Jadeveon Clowney, a defensive end with primetime Heisman potential for 2013, has been giving SEC offenses fits for two seasons. Now, after setting South Carolina records for sacks (12) and tackles for loss in 2012, the All-American has a legit shot at grabbing the Heisman trophy as a defensive player.

That would be the first time in more than 15 years that a defensive-listed player claimed the trophy, and even then Charles Woodson’s win was predicated at least partly on his ability as a return man. Could Clowney break the streak?

De’Anthony Thomas 

Cut in the Chip Kelly mold of a Oregon Duck, how will De’Anthony Thomas follow a productive 2012 season without Kelly at the helm? It’s going to be an interesting year in Eugene, but mostly because Thomas and quarterback Marcus Mariota are legitimate contenders for the Heisman Trophy.

Thomas, an all-around threat, rushed for 701 yards, had 445 yards receiving, and had 611 yards in returns. Add 18 total touchdowns and Thomas can produce all over the field. Can he produce in the Heisman race?

Others To Watch

Teddy Bridgewater

Louisville’s quarterback might have the best shot in the country of running an undefeated record, but will the lack of recognized competition on Bridgewater and the Cardinals’ schedule hurt his chances?

Aaron Murray

Just a play or two away from leading the Bulldogs to a national title game berth last season, Aaron Murray returns with the chance to break through the Alabama-LSU wall that has gone up in the SEC. Setting records at Georgia for passing yards and touchdowns was not enough last year, perhaps it will be this year.

Marqise Lee

Among the nation’s best at the wide receiver position last season, Lee enters the year as a preseason favorite for many of the receiving awards, but can he push beyond the positional trophies and make his way into the Heisman conversation?

Heisman Watch Week Five: Geno Smith’s brilliant day rules weekend storylines

De’Anthony Thomas

De’Anthony Thomas found yards where he could against Washington State — that being all over the field. Receiving (26 yards), rushing (28), kick returning (53) and punt returning (19) gave the sophomore a chance to shine across the board. The sophomore can seemingly contribute everywhere. While scoring just six of Oregon’s 51 points, Thomas made his presence known.

And yet, the problem moving forward could be a lack of consistent shining production like the game some other players produced this weekend. If Thomas doesn’t rack up 100-yards or more in one of these categories, is he doing himself a disservice in the Heisman race? Though it might seem counterintuitive — lots of offense is good anyway you can get it — Thomas might need to produce in more traditional and consistent ways to stay in the Heisman race.

Geno Smith

Likely lost in the gaudy numbers Geno Smith posted Saturday was how his arm and athleticism took over early and simply did not let up. Sure, his 656 yards passing, eight touchdown passes and 31 yards rushing will get Heisman voters’ attention when voting comes around, but Smith showed just how talented he was beyond the box score against Baylor.

Certainly the frontrunner for the trophy at this point, Smith gets the best of the Big 12 in the coming weeks, but as we’ve seen in recent years, even the Big 12’s best lacks in the defensive department. We’re probably not done with the gaudy stat lines from Smith.

EJ Manuel

Facing their first road test of their season, the Seminoles relied heavily on the arm of EJ Manuel, who continues to enjoy a strong start to his senior season at Florida State. Keeping his mistakes to a minimum, Manuel was able to out-shine fellow star quarterback, South Florida’s B.J. Daniels, and kept the Seminoles undefeated.

Ranked fourth in the nation, expectations are mounting for Florida State, but on Saturday, Manuel handled it just fine. Finishing with 242 yards and a touchdown toss, Manuel is squarely in the Heisman conversation.

Braxton Miller

Efficient where needed and the leader Ohio State required down the stretch, Braxton Miller continues to impress despite Ohio State’s ineligibility to win the Big Ten or make a bowl game. Miller passed for 179 yards and rushed for 136 more, leading the Buckeyes past Michigan State on Saturday, and keeping his Heisman hopes strong.

A key pick and a fumble in Michigan State territory could have undone the sophomore, but he held strong, and led his team to a key early season victory.

Aaron Muray

In what turned into a barn-burning slugfest between SEC foes, it was Aaron Murray’s arm that helped Georgia get by Tennessee, 51-44, as the junior gunslinger vaults his way into the Heisman conversation. Having already passed for 1,092 yards coming into the meeting with the Volunteers, it was more of the same for Murray, who saw his running game give the kind of support quarterbacks can only hope for.

With 12 touchdowns against just two interceptions on the year after Saturday’s key victory, Murray also boasts the skills and stats to stay in this race for the long-term. But the Bulldogs will have to keep winning for it to matter.

On The Radar:

Matt Barkley

A bye week is certainly never kind to any Heisman hopeful, especially one with a falling stock like Barkley’s. But with the Pac-12 schedule hitting high gear — and a Thursday night game on tap against Washington — Barkley has a shot to re-enter the race.

Colin Klein

Klein, too, was on a bye this week, but with his stock soaring after leading Kansas State past Oklahoma last weekend and vaulting the Wildcats into the top 10, Klein has a shot to make some real noise in the coming weeks.