Heisman Watch Week Eight: Winston Bright In A National Spotlight

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Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel won the 2012 Heisman on the strength of many things — his legs, his arm, his leadership, his youth and his persona. As an added bonus, the moments Manziel contributed to 2012’s season of fun were seemingly non stop. On Saturday, Manziel had a chance to submit another one of those much-coveted “Heisman moments” on Saturday. And yet, it just wasn’t there when needed this time. A visibly shaken and likely injured Manziel threw for 454 yards, accounted for five touchdowns and was key in his team’s attack. But he didn’t get the win.

Tajh Boyd

Everything that Jameis Winston achieved on Saturday night could have just as easily been Tajh Boyd’s. The national exposure, the bright lights, the top-five matchup — it was all there. But it was clear who was the better player was on this night. And it wasn’t the senior, it was the freshman. Boyd threw for one touchdown, two interceptions and didn’t complete more than 35 percent of his passes.

Teddy Bridgewater

A Friday night seemed to fit undefeated and No. 8 Louisville just right. And yet, things didn’t feel perfect for Louisville from the get-go. And Bridgewater and the Cardinals went down hard. Bridgewater’s 341 yards and two touchdowns were big, and continue a trend of the leader putting up big numbers no matter the opponent, but Louisville lost. And in a race that is so crowded at the quarterback position, Bridgewater needed to also be in the thick of the title game race to make some headway in the Heisman race.

AJ McCarrron

AJ McCarron seems to know exactly how to, with neurosurgeon-like efficiency and accuracy — pick apart a defense in the most simple way possible, and get the most out of his time on the field. McCarron completed 15 of 21 passes, threw for 180 yards and three touchdowns in Alabmaa’s blowout victory over Arkansas, the Crimson Tide’s second straight such win in as many seasons. McCarron has been the leader the Tide has needed in those big wins.

Marcus Mariota  

Marcus Mariota wont stop. Against a surprisingly game Washington State team, Mariota and the Ducks went to work. And work they did — Mariota threw for two touchdowns and 327 yards. But that wasn’t it — Mariota ran for another touchdown and a nice collection of 67 yards. The chunk of that rushing total was the game’s first score, and proved once against what a threat Mariota is all over the field.

Jameis Winston

Jameis Winston took control. Winston took total control of the game against Clemson, the Seminoles offense, and the media’ attention with his performance against the Tigers. Winston threw for 444 yards, accounted for four touchdowns and was the star of the biggest game of the season in college football thus far. Completing nearly 90 percent of his passes, Winston looked well beyond his years and drove the Seminoles to a convincing and dominating win against No. 3 Clemson.

Heisman Watch Week Seven: Contenders Step Up When Needed

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Johnny Manziel

On a Saturday full of upsets Johnny Manziel led Texas A&M past an upset bid of their own from Ole Miss. Though his performance wasn’t one for the record books, or anything quite close to that, his two rushing touchdowns and yet another 300-plus yard game through the air was enough to lift the Aggies to victory, which was all the more important on this Saturday in particular.

Tajh Boyd

Tajh Boyd seems to have the tendency to give Clemson exactly what they need, when they need it. It was no different on Saturday, as in a 24-14 victory over Boston College, Boyd tossed and ran for key touchdowns in a closer-than-expected victory over the Eagles. Was it pretty for the Tigers? No, but it was a victory, and a much-needed one before they gear up for a showdown with Jameis Winston and Florida State.

Teddy Bridgewater

With Thursday night all to himself, Teddy Bridgewater may not have broken out the big guns, but his performance against Rutgers was key to the Cardinals continuing their undefeated start to the regular season and a run at the Heisman trophy. Bridgewater connected on 21 of 31 attempts for two touchdowns and 310 yards to help Louisville top Rutgers on the night.

AJ McCarrron

It was a slow start for AJ McCarron and the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday against a much lesser Kentucky team. But once the Tide got started, it was tough to stop them, much to McCarron’s credit. Throwing for 359 yards and a touchdown, the senior leader helped the Tide score 24 points in the second quarter after a barren first, and helped Alabama to an eventual 48-7 victory.

Marcus Mariota  

Marcus Mariota and the Oregon offensive attack was needed for most of the game against Washington, a revived program with much to prove this weekend. But Mariota delivered against the Huskies, passing for 366 yards and three touchdowns to go with 88 yards and another score against a Huskies defense that nearly knocked off Stanford last weekend, and clearly put a shake into the Cardinal, which lost this weekend.

Jameis Winston

Though Jameis Winston and Florida State rested this weekend, it’s safe to say their minds were not far from the football field with top-five Clemson looming. Sure Winston has collected nearly 1,500 yards passing in five games, and sure, he’s passed for 17 touchdowns against just two interceptions, but the game against Clemson could decide the fate of not only the ACC, but also a possible BCS national title game storyline. Winston will get the chance to shine, as will Boyd, next Saturday.

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 Five: Winston, Boyd Key Big Victories

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Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel loves playing against Arkansas, following up his 500-plus yard performance last season against the Razorbacks with another 300-plus yards of offensive in Texas A&M’s Saturday night win. Manziel finished with 261 yards passing and two touchdowns through the air to go with 59 yards rushing. The Aggies get Ole Miss and Auburn after their bye next weekend, chances for Manziel to either bolster his chances at a repeat trophy, or watch others pass him by.

Tajh Boyd

Tajh Boyd was back in a big way on Saturday, accounting for four touchdowns in Clemson’s dominating victory over Wake Forest. Boyd recorded his 100th career touchdown and passed for more than 300 yards on the day, picking apart the Demon Deacons easily. With Boston College and Syracuse up next for Clemson before they take on Jamies Winston and Florida State, Boyd has a few weeks to do some stat-padding.

Teddy Bridgewater

Teddy Bridgewater and Louisville were off this weekend, but with more than 1,200 passing yards and 14 touchdowns through four games, and some weaker AAC defenses upcoming, expect Bridgewater to stay in the Heisman race all year.

AJ McCarrron

Clearly the star of Saturday’s game between Alabama and Ole Miss was the Crimson Tide’s defense, but once again AJ McCarron efficiently led the Tide to the score drives they needed to pull off the victory, although the stats were not eye-popping. McCarron threw for 180 yards and was intercepted once in the 25-0 win.

Marcus Mariota  

Marcus Mariota didn’t need to do much to help Oregon to a victory over California in the Ducks’ return from a bye week. The Golden Bears were put away early, and Mariota was a big part of the early burst, throwing two touchdown passes and rushing for a third in the blowout victory. Mariota might not be truly tested or forced to play a full game until Oct. 12 against Washington.

Jameis Winston

Jameis Winston passed for 330 yards and four touchdowns against Boston College on Saturday, and for most of the game, Florida State needed every single one of those touchdowns to avoid the upset. Though the Eagles trailed off at the end, they hung around for the majority of the game, and Winston stepped up when needed. The freshman quarterback also helped out the Seminoles’ rushing attack with 67 yards on the ground.

Heisman Watch Week Four: Strong Performances With No Stand Out

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Johnny Manziel

After his performance against Alabama was most notable for Johnny Manziel’s work through the air, it was his work in the rushing game that helped Texas A&M top SMU this weekend. Manziel rushed for two touchdowns and more than 100 yards to go along with his nearly 250 yards passing and passing score. A&M will start to hit the meat of its SEC schedule next week against Arkansas.

Tajh Boyd

Clemson didn’t always look its best against NC State in its ACC opener, but behind the senior quarterback’s leadership and three touchdown passes, the Tigers continued their hot start to the 2013 season. And in the process, Boyd again put up big numbers in a game that got a lot of national attention, as the Thursday night kick gave the country a chance to watch Boyd again.

Teddy Bridgewater

When a quarterback’s team scores 72 points, its easy for each accomplishment to disappear into the blowout. But Biridgewater was able to post four passing touchdowns and 212 yards before giving way to the rest of his offense to put away Florida International

AJ McCarrron

After a season-defining performance when it counted most against Texas A&M, McCarron followed it up this weekend with a somewhat muted performance against Colorado State. McCarron didn’t need to be the force against the Rams, and threw for just one touchdown, but was also intercepted once.

Marcus Mariota  

After three consecutive weeks of stat lines that stood out among the early performances and leading his Oregon team to blowout victories, Marcus Mariota and the Ducks got the week off. In what seems like a good way to view his early statistics, no one player’s performance in week four was as completely dominant as Mariota’s had been.

Others To Watch

Melvin Gordon

Three touchdowns for Gordon this weekend, and in the early going, he’s staying the thick of this race well.

De’Anthony Thomas

Thomas, like Mariota, and Oregon were also off this week. The Ducks get California next week.

Jameis Winston

A solid performance from Winston in a blowout victory over Bethune-Cookman. Winston attempted only 19 passes, and threw for two touchdowns.

Heisman Watch Week One: Manziel Shines In His Short Time

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Johnny Manziel

Say what you will about Johnny Manziel’s 30-minute suspension on Saturday, but the Texas A&M quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner certainly made the most of his limited playing time and limited exposure. In just eight pass attempts Manziel posted three touchdowns and 94 yards, while completing six of those attempts. He added a handful of yards on the ground, but for what it was — a lost game in Manziel’s Heisman repeat hopes no matter what the result — this was about as good as the Aggies could have hoped for.

Braxton Miller

Braxton Miller kept it simple against Buffalo in Ohio State’s season opener. Twenty-two pass attempts and 17 rush attempts netted 255 yards and two touchdowns. Leg cramps eventually sidelined the Buckeyes’ Heisman candidate, and a interception returned against him will go down as a bruise on his day. Miller will have a chance to knock some more of the rust off the next few weeks — with games against San Diego State, California and FCS Florida A&M.

Teddy Bridgewater

Teddy Bridgewater might have the inside track on one of the biggest statistical seasons in 2013 as a simple result of an easy Louisville schedule. That, of course, is not Bridgewater’s fault, and if his performance Sunday is to be believed, we could see plenty from him the season. Bridgewater passed for 355 yards and five touchdowns — a solid debut against Ohio. Who knows what Bridgewater can do next.

Jadeveon Clowney

Rust and a stomach bug very demonstrably hindered Jadeveon Clowney against North Carolina in his first game of the season, as he finished with just three first half tackles and no sacks. That being said, however, expect Clowney to bounce back in a big way as the season wears on. And he’ll get his first big test next weekend against Georgia in a prime SEC showdown.

Marcus Mariota  

Marcus Mariota proved his dual-threat ability against Nicholls State on Saturday in Oregon’s season debut, which, in classic Oregon fashion, turned into an all-out blowout. In the 66-3 victory, Mariota accounted for three touchdowns, two on the ground, and 347 yards in total offense. Without Chip Kelly, the Ducks looked much the same, with Mariota’s teammate De’Anthony Thomas proving a threat around the field and Mariota leading a ruthlessly efficient attack. Looks like the Oregon’s we’ve come to expect is definitely back.

Others To Watch

De’Anthony Thomas

Thomas was responsible for 130 yards, 128 of which were on the ground, and two touchdowns on Saturday, but was clearly outdone by his quarterback teammate.

Tahj Boyd

Leading Clemson to the win of the first weekend of college football would turn eyes the way of Boyd no matter how he did it, but he ended up accounting for five touchdowns in the thrilling Saturday night game. He’ll be one to keep an eye on early.

AJ McCarron

AJ McCarron’s ingrown toenail made headline news, then it was his special teams and defense, and not his offensive attack, that helped Alabama get by Virginia Tech.

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?