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Heisman Watch 2013: Ranking the finalists behind Jameis Winston

Jameis Winston is winning the 2013 Heisman Trophy. But five finalists means there's intrigue behind him.

Where do you rank this guy?
Where do you rank this guy?
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Winner, winner

QB Jameis Winston, Florida State Seminoles

Last Week: 19-for-32, 330 passing yards, three TDs, two INTs; 59 rushing yards, one TD; defeated Duke, 45-7
2013 Season: 237-for-349, 3,820 passing yards, 38 TDs, 10 INTs; 193 rushing yards, four TDs

Jameis Winston is going to win the 2013 Heisman Trophy. This doesn't need any qualifiers, or any "if ... then" hypotheticals: Florida State's quarterback has had the potential criminal charges against him fall away, and thus the moral hazard of voting for him is diminished. And his competition for the award has fallen off.

Winston was typically great against Duke on Saturday, too, carving up the Blue Devils in primetime after starting the game 1-for-5. He put up almost exactly the same stat line as a thrower against Duke that he did against Florida (19-for-31, 327 yards, three TDs, one INT), and added 59 yards and a score on the ground. FSU controlled that game from the second quarter onward, despite Winston's two picks.

And there's no other quarterback leading an unbeaten team to the BCS National Championship Game, now that Braxton Miller isn't that guy. Winston is the shoo-in winner; the only remnant drama about his victory is about the margin.

Guessing the finalists, in order

Daniel Shirey, USA Today

RB Tre Mason, Auburn Tigers

Last Week: 46 carries, 304 yards, four touchdowns; defeated Missouri, 59-42
2013 Season: 283 carries, 1,621 rushing yards, 22 TDs

QB AJ McCarron, Alabama Crimson Tide

Last Week: Bye
2013 Season: 207-for-306, 2,676 passing yards, 26 TDs, five INTs

QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M Aggies

Last Week: Bye
2013 Season: 270-for-391, 3,732 passing yards, 33 TDs, 13 INTs; 133 carries, 686 rushing yards, eight TDs

QB Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois Huskies

Last Week: 21-for-40, 219 passing yards, one TD, two INTs; 26 carries, 126 rushing yards, two TDs; lost to Bowling Green, 47-27
2013 Season: 233-of-369, 2,676 passing yards, 23 TDs, seven INTs; 274 carries, 1,881 rushing yards, 22 TDs

RB Andre Williams, Boston College Eagles

Last Week: Bye
2013 Season: 329 carries, 2,102 rushing yards, 17 TDs

The fun part of this week is figuring out the order in which the five finalists behind Winston will finish.

Mason's spectacular day against Missouri, which happened at the perfect time for a Heisman dark horse, almost certainly siphoned a lot of second-place votes from voters who waited for the weekend or Monday to send in their ballots. He wasn't tracking to be a finalist as of last week, as his stats were nothing special, but that performance was phenomenal, and it was the only thing any college football fan was watching in the early Saturday evening window, so it made a huge impression.

McCarron's the only other finalist whose momentum might have improved last weekend. He's still not much more than the figurehead for Alabama's offense, and I doubt highly that he gets any first-place votes, but he'll take a bunch of second-place votes and a ton of third-place votes behind Winston and Mason on ballots from the South and the East — and his team lost to a team in the title game, totally because of circumstances beyond his control, so he's not getting penalized like the stat-heavy finalists I have behind him.

The order of the finalists is really going to depend on how many ballots were filled out after Saturday.

Manziel might get first-place votes, too, because a) Texas and b) there's an argument that he's flashier and more exciting than Winston, but I expect him to be a boom-or-bust candidate. Lynch is in a similar spot, but his competition is much weaker than Manziel's, and he just missed some statistical plateaus that would have made his candidacy more compelling, and he suffered an ugly blowout loss that he had some culpability in on a Friday when he was the only show on TV. Lynch might've been a top-three finisher coming into the weekend, but he wouldn't be on my ballot if I had one, and I expect that his votes come mostly regionally.

Williams is the stats-only candidate, with his 2,000-plus yards, but he was out of sight and out of mind over the last two weeks, due to injury and Boston College being Boston College. And Mason's rise probably stole a lot of votes that were destined for Williams as of two weeks ago, when he was the undisputed best running back in the country.

The order of the finalists is really going to depend on how many ballots were filled out after Saturday, but I think Winston's legal limbo probably kept almost all of them in voters' pockets and inboxes at least until late last week, so I would not be surprised at all to learn that Mason got a huge push from the SEC Championship Game.

The snubbed, in order (not including defensive players and linemen)

QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville Cardinals

Last Week: 23-for-37, 255 yards, three TDs, one INT; defeated Cincinnati, 31-24
2013 Season: 268-for-382, 3,523 passing yards, 28 TDs, four INTs

This guy:

I'm gonna miss you, Teddy.

QB Derek Carr, Fresno State Bulldogs

Last Week: 36-for-53, 404 passing yards, three TDs, two INTs; defeated Utah State, 24-17
2013 Season: 424-for-605, 4,886 passing yards, 48 TDs, seven INTs;

Mr. Numbers is going to get some more numbers, with commas in them, from the NFL in about six months, so don't cry too much for him. (Also, as one of the 11 people who watched most of Fresno State-Utah State on Saturday, Carr wasn't as sharp in that game as he sometimes is.)

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

The case for Miller was that he was the best thing Ohio State had on offense. And, for about two quarters against Michigan State, that looked like enough to get the Buckeyes to Pasadena and Miller to New York. Problem is, you play four quarters.

QB Bryce Petty, Baylor Bears

Last Week: 21-for-37, 287 passing yards, two TDs; beat Texas, 30-10
2013 Season: 199-for-319, 3,557 passing yards, 28 TDs, two INTs; 168 rushing yards, 11 rushing TDs

Good news for Petty: If his coach resists the lures of the NFL and $Texas, both likely to be very strong, he should be the third-best quarterback candidate for the Heisman in 2014. Maybe the fourth-best!

QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon Ducks

Last Week: Bye
2013 Season: 227-for-360, 3,412 passing yards, 30 TDs, four INTs; 582 rushing yards, nine rushing TDs

Mariota's first in line behind Winston for the 2014 Heisman, I would imagine, but his dropoff after injury in 2013 shows just how important a mobile quarterback is in Oregon's system, and he's going to need to be fully healthy in 2014 to have a real shot — he's not sniffing the Heisman with more than a loss, given how completely he's fallen off the map with two this year.

The Heisman of the Week

RB Tre Mason, Auburn Tigers

The Line: 46 carries, 304 yards, four TDs

A reminder: This came in an SEC Championship Game, with all the world knowing that Auburn hands it to Mason pretty frequently, and Mason only barely tallied more than half of Auburn's rushing yardage. Fellow Auburn great Bo Jackson had a game almost this good in his 1985 Heisman season ... but it was against Southwestern Louisiana, which is now UL Lafayette.

The FCS Heisman of the Week

QB Bryan Bennett, Southeastern Louisiana Lions

The Line: 19-for-33, 286 passing yards, two TDs, one INT; 19 carries, 83 yards, one TD

Remember former Oregon quarterback Bryan Bennett, whom many thought was going to win the job in 2012 before Marcus Mariota became a household name?

He's at FCS Southeastern Louisiana (not to be confused with Southwestern Louisiana or Northwestern State, which is in Louisiana, or...), and he's been excellent all year. Bennett leads the Lions in both passing and rushing on the year, is probably going to top 3,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in SELA's next game, and threw the game-winning touchdown pass with 36 seconds left against Sam Houston State over the weekend. Bennett also had more rushing yards than any Sam Houston State player, despite the Bearkats running an option and leaning on it while struggling with the pass all day, completing just three of 19 throws.

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