We’re approaching a huge week for the 2013 Heisman race. Tajh Boyd and the No. 3 Clemson Tigers host freshman sensation Jameis Winston and the No. 5 Florida State Seminoles, a matchup that holds the fate of the ACC, possibly the national championship, and certainly both quarterbacks chances at the most coveted award in college football.
Then UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley can keep the Bruins undefeated by taking down Kevin Hogan and the Stanford Cardinal. Hogan’s Heisman campaign was smudged after the Cardinal’s nasty loss to Utah a week ago, but the talent that made him a candidate in the first place should be enough to scare Hundley and the Bruins.
The favorites, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and reigning Heisman champ Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, each have gimme games against Eastern Washington and No. 24 Auburn this week, but a loss or poor performance could signal the end of their runs before the conference championships.
Bovada and Vegas Insider have updated their odds for the Heisman weekly, and right now its Manziel and Mariota going neck-and-neck. Manziel could become the second player to ever win the Heisman twice, while Mariota must know the trophy could catapult his already high NFL draft stock. Sixteen players went on to be selected No. 1 overall in the draft after winning the Heisman.
Below are breakdowns of the favored players, as well as a few dark horses who could pick up some ground should any of the frontrunners falter.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Best Odds: 7/5
Seventeen touchdowns to zero interceptions, sixth best passing yards per game in the country (358.3), and the No. 2 Ducks undefeated mark make the sophomore Mariota the odds on favorite. He does lack a signature win, but could be pulling for Hundley and UCLA to remain undefeated until they meet on Oct. 26.
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Best Odds: 3/2
The home loss to Alabama was more on the Aggies defense, but Manziel did throw two picks. His 1,835 passing yards and 14 touchdowns off a 73.2 completion percentage, along with 438 yards and five touchdowns on the ground, will keep him in the hunt until the final two games on the road against LSU and surprising Missouri.
Jameis Winston, QB, FSU
Best Odds: 3/1
Leading the nation’s third best scoring offense with 17 touchdowns and the ACC’s best passer rating of 213.9 could make Winston the second straight freshman to win the award. Winston would best Manziel by being the first true freshman if the Seminoles run the table. A scintillating performance against Clemson could also sew up the award with seven regular season games left.
Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Best Odds: 7/1
Boyd has more passing yards than Winston (1,783) and the 38-35 win over Georgia is the best of any candidate. But he’ll have to lift the Tigers atop the BCS standings and hope for the top three to slip.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Best Odds: 10/1
A schedule loaded with lesser talent is a huge smudge on Bridgewater’s resume. He’s still considered the best NFL quarterback prospect in the country, but some have also questioned his big numbers (1,872 yards, 18 TDs) against weaker teams.
A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
Best Odds: 10/1
McCarron leads the nation’s top team and arguably outgunned Manziel on the road. He has also overcome a young offensive line, but the Crimson Tide’s defense has done much of the heavy lifting while the offense is just 24th in the country. A monster game against LSU could turn the table, and everyone ahead of him has to make a significant drop.
Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
Best Odds: 12/1
Combine the 18-point comeback against Nebraska with a Pac-12 title, an Oregon upset or a BCS berth, and Hundley could shoot to the top of this list and the Heisman vote tally.
Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
Best Odds: 25/1
The country’s best total offense (63.4 ppg) hasn’t played anyone. Yet, like Bridgewater, Petty’s 1,680 passing yards and 13 touchdowns don’t have as much luster. Back-to-back weeks against Oklahoma and Texas Tech could change things.
Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
Best Odds: 33/1
An eye-popping 10.0 yards per carry, and 128.6 yards per game make Seastrunk hands down the best running back in the Big-12. Unfortunately, he’s stuck behind a glut of quarterbacks, a position that has won the Heisman 31 times, including 11 of the last 13.
Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon State
Video game numbers of 25 touchdowns and 2,511 passing yards make Mannion the most prolific passer in the college game. But they can’t wipe away the season-opening loss to Eastern Washington. He also has to contend with Hundley and Mariota for votes on the West coast.
Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
Sankey has five 100-yard games this season, is the Pac-12’s outright leading rusher (899 yards), and is third in the conference in all-purpose yards. He even torched Oregon’s No. 6 defense for 167 yards and two touchdowns. If the Huskies hadn’t lost two straight, Sankey would have a much better case to make.