What was once considered a wide open Heisman field less than a month ago has been whittled down to several key contenders, with most also vying for a taste of the BCS national championship game.
Several of the dark horses like Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion and Washington running back Bishop Sankey, while still among the best in the nation at their position, haven’t lifted their respective schools atop even the Pac-12 let alone the national title race.
The biggest drop unfortunately belongs to Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, who missed out on his biggest Heisman opportunity of the season in last week’s 26-20 loss to rival Stanford. Shooing away the Cardinal could have clinched Mariota the trophy, but negative-16 rushing yards, a lost fumble, and the Ducks offensive production cut in half smothered his campaign.
Same goes for Clemson’s Tajh Boyd and Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater. Boyd spoiled a chance to take freshman sensation Jameis Winston out of the race but instead made him the favorite in a 51-14 loss.
Media and voters were already holding Louisville’s weak schedule against Bridgewater, so the 38-35 loss to Central Florida ended his chances. Bridgewater will have to settle for a top five pick in the NFL Draft seven months from now.
Based off Bovada’s updated odds, heavily favored Winston and three other stellar quarterbacks are still in the running.
Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
A murky and confusing story about Winston being investigated by Tallahassee police regarding a complaint of sexual battery last winter has put a serious black eye on the freshman. Florida State released a statement and said that Winston’s status has not changed and that he will continue to play as police have not made an arrest or even spoken to the quarterback.
The 9-0 Seminoles have three games remaining against Syracuse, Idaho, and Florida, with the ACC seemingly wrapped up. Staying undefeated and a berth in the national title game should clinch Winston the trophy. FSU hasn’t claimed a national title since 1999.
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
The reigning Heisman winner has already surpassed his passing touchdown total from last year, and Manziel has even improved his accuracy and passer rating. His rushing stats have taken a huge hit, but A&M clearly wanted to protect the speedy Manziel and limited his time outside the pocket.
Unless Winston’s legal issues go any further, Manziel will finish second with the Aggies posting two losses. Two big wins over LSU or Missouri could swing voters as well, but he’ll have to put together a string of moments in both games against two of the nation’s best defenses.
AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama
In most years McCarron would be the favorite, but steadily guiding No. 1 Alabama’s rush-heavy offense has left him with 19 touchdowns to three picks and 2,041 passing yards, numbers Manziel and Winston blew past weeks ago.
Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
Run the table and take the Big-12, while hoping for the Seminoles, Ohio State, and Stanford to stumble may be Petty’s only shot. The leader of the nation’s highest scoring offense certainly has the numbers, but like Bridgewater, the Bears strength of schedule has hurt them in the BCS standings and Petty in the Heisman odds.