Heisman Watch: Week Eight

Story posted October 21, 2013 in Sports, CommRadio by Tyler Zulli

Front Runners

Marcus Mariota, Sophomore QB, Oregon

Stock: UP

Week 8 Stats: 23-32, 327 yards, 2 TD, 67 rush yards, 1 TD

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Heisman Trophy for 2013 is officially Marucs Mariota’s to lose. I may be the last one on this Earth to give into that conclusion, but it’s true. Mariota has shown throughout the first eight weeks of the season, why he is the frontrunner for this year’s award.

He has used both his arm and his legs to outplay defenders all season. Last night’s victory over Washington State was just the latest installment in the year of the Ducks. Washington State posed as a tricky opponent, and all Oregon’s offense did was put up 62 points and 719 yards of total offense.

Mariota, of course, was at the helm of this attack, throwing for 327 yards and adding 67 more with his legs, all while producing three total touchdowns.

His accuracy was seen as somewhat of a concern in the first seven weeks, but last night the sophomore showed he was accurate and crisp, with many of his passes.

The ceiling is enormous for this kid, and, barring a slip up against Stanford or UCLA, a Heisman Trophy and a shot at the National Championship are squarely in his sights.

Jameis Winston, Freshman QB, Florida State

Stock: UP

Week 8 Stats: 22-34, 444 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT, 1 rush TD

Boy, talk about a leap on the list. Winston, who sat fifth just a week ago, showed me something, that even his very productive stat line may not. The freshman is already a winner.

When faced with his first hurdle of his collegiate career, Winston responded with one the best games of his tenure at Florida State, knocking off Tajh Boyd and the #3 Clemson Tigers, convincingly beating them to the ground, 51-14 in Clemson.

Winston racked up nearly 450 passing yards, and threw for three touchdowns, on his way to another Seminole victory, improving the team’s overall record to 6-0.

“Famous Jameis,” as he is now being referred to as, has lit up defenses all year to a tune of 20 touchdowns and just three interceptions.

Like Mariota, the sky’s the limit for Winston, but right now he has a legitimate shot of becoming just the second freshman to ever win the Heisman Trophy. Did I also mention his Seminoles will be, at worst, ranked #4 this week?

Johnny Manziel, Sophomore QB, Texas A&M

Stock: UP

Week 8 Stats: 28-38, 454 yards, 4 TD, 2 INT’s, 48 rush yards, 1 TD

“Johnny Football’s” team may not be competing for a National Title this year after their second loss of the season to Auburn yesterday, but a repeat Heisman victory is still a possibility. Manziel seeks to become just the second player in NCAA history to win multiple Heisman awards in his collegiate career.

Manziel led his Aggies back within striking distance time and time again last night, even after his defense continued their season long trend of letting the offense down.

He threw for over 450 yards, and added five total touchdowns. He now has 24 total touchdowns on the season; 18 through the air and six on the ground. These touchdowns, combined with the ridiculous amount of yardage he has racked up, keeps Manziel’s trophy shot alive and well, through eight weeks.

A&M will face two more ranked opponents at the end of the season, but in between should feature plenty of time for Manziel to pad his stats, and add to his already impressive season.

Right Behind, But Still Very Much Alive

Tajh Boyd, Senior QB, Clemson

Stock: DOWN

Week 8 Stats: 17-37, 156 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT’s

Ooh, how the mighty have fallen. Tajh Boyd was supposed to use this game as his springboard to separate himself from Marcus Mariota and prove his Tigers were worthy of a National Title look. Neither of those things happened.

Boyd was inconsistent, at best, and the Tigers were whipped by ACC rival Florida State, 51-14. The game may not have been as close as the score indicated, either. The Tigers looked lost, and Boyd was no better, throwing for just 156 yards including two interceptions.

After statistically, his worst game of the year, it will be a tough climb back to the top for Boyd. Not only will he have to supplant three guys, he will have to prove he can do it consistently against good teams.

The defenses Clemson had faced before Florida State were not of an elite caliber by any means. A tough, but nowhere near as tough defense as FSU, Maryland, will be the Tigers next opponent, and a great opportunity for Boyd to get back on track.

Teddy Bridgewater, Junior QB, Louisville

Stock: DOWN

Week 8 Stats: 29-38, 341 yards, 2 TD

Bridgewater moves significantly down this list because of exactly what I feared. Outside of Rutgers, Louisville hadn’t faced a quality opponent this entire season. Enter University of Central Florida.

UCF, a sneaky good defense, stopped Bridgewater and his Cardinals in their tracks, handing them their first loss of the season, winning the game 38-35 in Louisville.

The junior had himself a pretty stellar game, but if you don’t have the victory at the end of the day, the stats are almost meaningless. Manziel’s stats are overshadowed this week, and so are Bridgewater’s.

The season is far from over, and just like Boyd, Bridgewater will have plenty of time to redeem himself. Louisville’s only quality opponents for the remainder of the season are Houston and Cincinnati. These two games will be stepping stones, but the other games will be stat-padders.

If the Cardinals can run through the rest of their AAC schedule, Bridgewater will have a chance to get his name back into contention. He needs some help though, and an Oregon or Florida State lose would be a great start.

Honorable Mentions

Brett Hundley, Sophomore QB, UCLA

Lache Seastrunk , Junior RB, Baylor

Sean Mannion, Junior QB, Oregon State

Tyler Zulli is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email tcz5008@psu.edu.