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.

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?

2013 AQ Conference Profiles: American Athletic Conference

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BCS Know How will take you through the six automatic-qualifying BCS conferences in preparation for the 2013 season. Short and sweet previews begin with the newly renamed and reorganized American Athletic Conference. Scroll down to see our profiles of the other conferences.

Conference: American Athletic Conference (AAC)

Active Since: 1979 (as the original Big East)

Current Member Schools: Cincinnati Bearcats, Connecticut Huskies, Houston Cougars, Louisville Cardinals, Memphis Tigers, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, SMU Mustangs, South Florida Bulls, Temple Owls, UCF Knights (10)

2013 Bowl Affiliations and Tie-Ins: BCS Bowl (At-large), Russell Athletic Bowl, Belk Bowl, Pinstripe Bowl, BBVA Compass Bowl, Liberty Bowl, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl (7)

2012 Results:
(As the Big East)
Conference Champion — Louisville Cardinals (11-2, 5-2)
Conference Runners-up — Cincinnati Bearcats (10-3, 5-2), Rutgers Scarlet Knights (9-4, 5-2), Syracuse Orange (8-5, 5-2)
BCS Bowl Results: 2013 Sugar Bowl: Louisville 33 vs. Florida 23
Overall Bowl Record: 3-2

Heisman Hopefuls: Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater, Connecticut RB Lyle McCombs, Rutgers WR Brandon Coleman

BCS Know How’s 2013 Predictions:
Conference Champion — Louisville Cardinals
Conference Runner-up — Rutgers Scarlet Knights
BCS Bids — Louisville — Fiesta Bowl
Heisman Finalists: None

2012 BCS AQ Conference Profile: Big East


BCS Know How is taking you through the six automatic-qualifying BCS conferences in preparation for the 2012 season. Short and sweet previews continue with the eight-team Big East. Scroll down to see our profiles of the other conferences.

Conference: Big East Conference (Big East)

Active Since: 1979

Current Member Schools: Cincinnati Bearcats, Connecticut Huskies, Louisville Cardinals, Pittsburgh Panthers, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Syracuse Orange, South Florida Bulls, Temple Owls. (8)

Bowl Affiliations: BCS Bowl Bid, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s St. Petersburg Bowl, Belk Bowl, Russell Athletics Bowl, New Era Pinstripe Bowl, Liberty Bowl, BBVA Compass Bowl. (7)

2011 Results:
Conference Co-Champions — West Virginia, Cincinnati and Louisville
Conference Runner-up — Rutgers
BCS Bowl Result — 2012 Orange Bowl: West Virginia 70 vs. Clemson 33
Overall Bowl Record: 3-2

2012 Outlook: Three squads split the Big East crown last year, but the conference’s BCS participant — West Virginia — is long gone to the Big 12. So what next for the unstable and comparatively diminutive eight-team Big East?

With a new member school in Temple and a Louisville team that returns much of its co-champion squad from 2011, there’s plenty to be excited about. Add a USF squad that coach Skip Holtz says was five plays away from 10-2, and you might just have the makings of a conference to watch in the 2012 season.

The pall of the Big East being the butt of BCS jokes is in the offing, as the BCS isn’t long for the college football world, but in the remaining two seasons of BCS reign, could the conference see a reawakening and return to national prominence? It’ll have to start in 2012. Stay tuned.

Heisman Hopefuls: Pittsburgh RB Ray Graham, Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater.

BCS Know How’s 2012 Predictions: 
Conference Champion — Louisville Cardinals
Conference Runner-up — Cincinnati Bearcats
BCS bids — Louisville Cardinals — Orange Bowl
Heisman Finalists – None