QB Jameis Winston, Florida State Seminoles
Last Week: 19-for-31, 327 passing yards, three TDs, one INT; defeated Florida, 37-7
2013 Season: 218-for-319, 3,490 passing yards, 35 TDs, eight INTs; 134 rushing yards, three TDs
No one but Jameis Winston is going to win the 2013 Heisman Trophy, barring him being charged with sexual battery (a decision is expected within a week or so). While his off-the-field situation remains murky, his lapping of the field on the field gets clearer.
Winston is a celestially talented thrower who is aggressive with the ball, has leadership skills, and is about as prototypical a Heisman candidate as a pocket passer can be. But he's not just a pocket passer, as he can run around, and his stats aren't even as important as Florida State's new No. 1 ranking and his centrality to earning it.
And everyone else has fallen away. Unless Winston falls from grace, he'll win the Heisman and fully deserve it.
QB AJ McCarron, Alabama Crimson Tide
Last Week: 17-for-29, 277 passing yards, three TDs; lost to Auburn, 34-28
2013 Season: 207-for-306, 2,676 passing yards, 26 TDs, five INTs
AJ McCarron had his Heisman stage on Saturday night. He had a Heisman performance and a Heisman moment, too. That 99-yard touchdown pass definitely counted, and it might've cut into Winston's lead.
Except for one thing. Alabama lost.
McCarron had very little to do with the loss, and would have likely been the hero in an overtime victory, especially given that Alabama's running game was more effective than showy on the night. (T.J. Yeldon ran for 141 yards; his longest run covered just 31.) But McCarron's candidacy was and has always been contingent on him being the leader-king of the leader-king team, given the statistical and enthusiasm gulches between him and Winston, or him and other, lesser candidates.
He was wearing a crimson halo, and that halo got dented by one of the greatest plays in college football history. It happens.
McCarron's probably a strong candidate for a runner-up finish now, and I do think he sewed up some second-place votes on Saturday, but I can't imagine anyone but someone scared by Winston's off-the-field murkiness voting for McCarron over Winston.
How did you get here?
QB Braxton Miller, Ohio State Buckeyes
Last Week: 6-for-15, 133 passing yards, two TDs, one INT; 153 rushing yards, three TDs; defeated Michigan, 42-41
2013 Season: 138-for-210, 1,759 passing yards, 21 TDs, five INTs; 891 rushing yards, eight TDs
This is how much everyone else has fallen away from Winston. Braxton Miller has never really been in the race to win the Heisman and is now third on oddsmakers' lists. Miller's got fewer combined passing and rushing yards than Winston has passing yards — hell, he has fewer combined passing and rushing yards than McCarron has passing yards — and he's missed two games this season and played sparingly in a third, but he's the leader of an undefeated team and is probably going to get plenty of votes because of that.
Just remember that a successful two-point conversion by a Michigan team that nearly lost to Akron would have knocked Miller entirely out of this race.
The small-program studs
Last Week: 5-for-17, 39 passing yards, one TD; 27 carries, 321 rushing yards, three TDs; defeated Western Michigan, 33-14
2013 Season: 212-of-329, 2,457 passing yards, 22 TDs, five INTs; 1,755 rushing yards, 20 TDs
RB Andre Williams, Boston College Eagles
Last Week: Nine carries, 29 yards, injured; lost to Syracuse, 34-31
2013 Season: 329 carries, 2,102 rushing yards, 16 TDs
QB Derek Carr, Fresno State Bulldogs
Last Week: 38-for-50, 519 passing yards, six TDs, one INT; lost to San Jose State, 62-52
2013 Season: 320 carries, 2,043 rushing yards, 16 TDs
Lynch has the best shot of these three players because people know who he is, even if most of those people are Seminoles fans who can't stand the idea of Lynch being good at football. He might not get to the 3,000/2,000 plateaus I hinted at last week thanks to a woeful night through the air against Western Michigan, but his 321 rushing yards put him in great position to get to 2,500 passing yards and 2,000 rushing yards by the end of the year, which is unprecedented in college football.
But he's also in good position to do that before the Heisman vote, thanks to this Saturday's MAC Championship Game. If I'm Northern Illinois, I try my damnedest to go up early on Bowling Green and get Lynch the 43 passing yards and 245 rushing yards he needs to get 2,500/2,000 by running up the score. There's nothing like an arbitrary and stunning stat to make the nation take notice.
Williams got hurt against Syracuse, leaving that game early, and won't have another chance to impress Heisman voters in a conference title game. He's probably going to get votes, but not enough to be a finalist.
Carr has had massive days in each of his last two games (combined is-this-a-misprint? line: 65-for-87, 1,041 yards, 13 touchdowns, one pick), but Fresno State lost to San Jose State, even though Carr was not exactly at fault when considering how the Bulldogs' defense gave up 62 points. If he played on the East Coast, Carr would be beloved, but he's a college football cult hero because of his school and time zone, and that works against him. Again, expect votes, but no trip to New York.
Andy Lyons, Getty
Last Week: 19-for-38, 206 passing yards, two TDs, one INT; rushing TD; lost to Oklahoma State, 49-17
2013 Season: 199-for-319, 3,557 passing yards, 28 TDs, two INTs; 168 rushing yards, 11 rushing TDs
QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon Ducks
Last Week: 17-for-34, 285 passing yards, three TDs, two INTs; 53 rushing yards; defeated Oregon State, 36-35
2013 Season: 227-for-360, 3,412 passing yards, 30 TDs, four INTs; 582 rushing yards, nine rushing TDs
QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville Cardinals
Last Week: Bye
2013 Season: 245-for-345, 3,268 passing yards, 25 TDs, three INTs
These stats are really just here for comparison's sake. All three players are going to receive Heisman votes, but I would guess only Bridgewater gets a first-place vote among the three of them, and he won't get more than a few.
The Heismen of the Week
WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State Seminoles
The Line: Nine receptions, 212 yards, three TDs
Benjamin's been the specimen of all specimens at wide receiver for his entire career at Florida State, and he's older than most college players (turning 23 in February) despite being just a redshirt sophomore. But hot damn, was he unstoppable against Florida. He burst through half the Gators defense on one touchdown, caught another effortlessly after looking over the wrong shoulder, and eight of his nine catches were for either first downs or touchdowns.
And it could've been much worse. Benjamin was targeted another four times, but had a couple of drops.
QB David Fales, San Jose State Spartans
The Line: 37-for-45, 547 passing yards, six passing TDs; 33 rushing yards, one TD
The reason Derek Carr's not a legitimate Heisman candidate? Fales's day against the Fresno State defense, which included scores on 10 drives and little help from a running game that averaged 3.5 yards per carry on the ground. Take away Fales's 33 yards, and that average drops to 3.2.
The FCS Heismen of the Week
QB Eli Jenkins, Jacksonville State Gamecocks
The Line: 11-for-19, 115 passing yards, one TD; 115 rushing yards, one TD
I like balance.
RB Zach Zenner, South Dakota State Jackrabbits
The Line: 30 carries, 249 yards, two TDs
I also like alliteration.