Heisman Watch Week 13: Candidates dropping everywhere leaves race wide open
Is anyone up for a little Heisman Trophy reset?
A wild Week 13 caused a major shift in a suddenly wide-open Heisman race. For the second season in a row, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel stumbled against LSU’s defense as the Aggies suffered their third loss of the year. Baylor’s Bryce Petty couldn’t find the end zone until the fourth quarter as his Bears were routed by Oklahoma State. Oregon’s Marcus Mariota threw his first two picks of the year and the Ducks managed only 16 points in a loss to unranked Arizona.
Any other year, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston would have the Heisman locked up after that shakeup. Winston tossed four touchdowns as unbeaten Florida State set a program scoring record in its 80-14 rout over lowly Idaho.
But the ongoing sexual assault investigation into Winston leaves his Heisman chances — and much, much more — in flux. Florida prosecutors haven’t decided whether to charge Winston, but if felony charges are brought against the quarterback, he wouldn’t be allowed to play until the situation is resolved, per Florida State policy.
In that scenario, Winston would have much more than his Heisman hopes to worry about; his college football career could be in jeopardy. Even if the state somehow doesn’t reach a decision on Winston before Heisman votes are due, some might still hesitate to include the quarterback on their ballots. But without any charges brought against Winston in the thick of a very hush-hush investigation, the Seminoles’ star remains atop this voter’s Heisman Watch. Winston’s hold on that spot, however, remains very fluid.
Heisman Watch Week 13
1. Jameis Winston
2. AJ McCarron
3. Andre Williams
4. Bryce Petty
5. Johnny Manziel
Player of the Week
Andre Williams, Boston College RB
Week 13 stats: 32 rushes for 263 yards and two touchdowns
Quarterbacks have stiff-armed much of the Heisman competition this year. But Boston College running back Andre Williams is making a convincing case for some late-season consideration.
Williams rushed 32 times for 263 yards and two scores in the Eagles’ win over Maryland, the tailback’s fifth game of the year with at least 200 yards on the ground. His 32-yard scamper late in the fourth quarter helped set up a game-winning 52-yard field goal by Nate Freese.
Those numbers aren’t unusual for Williams this season. Last week he set the program’s single-game record with 339 yards against NC State, and he reeled off 295 yards against New Mexico State the previous week. Williams leads the country with 2,072 yards on the year — 462 yards more than the nation’s No. 2 running back, Western Kentucky’s Antonio Andrews – and is just the 16th player in FBS history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season.
He has some pretty good company in that 2K club. Only six players have ever rushed for more yards through 11 games, a list that includes names like Barry Sanders (2,628), LaDainian Tomlinson (2,158) and Ricky Williams (2,124). Of the college football’s 10 most productive rushing performances this season, Williams lays claim to four of them.
Critics will point to Boston College’s four losses as an anchor on Williams’ Heisman credentials, but three of those losses came to USC, Florida State and Clemson, who boast a combined 30-4 record. Next weekend’s regular-season finale against Syracuse is one final chance for Williams to spoil the quarterback-heavy Heisman race. If he keeps up his current pace (299 yards per game through his last three games), he could turn the heads of a few voters at the 11th hour.
We’ve seen this movie before, but we could be in for a repeat performance. Jordan Lynch and NIU are knocking on the door of a BCS berth after moving to No. 14 in the current BCS rankings. It’s a similar scenario to last season when the Huskies busted the BCS and reached the Orange Bowl. Both seasons have another thing in common: Jordan Lynch. The quarterback ran for three touchdowns and completed 77 percent of his throws in a win over Toledo last Wednesday. Lynch is responsible for 3,852 total yards and 38 touchdowns this year as NIU remains unbeaten and on the cusp of a BCS bid.
Fresno State’s prolific quarterback remains largely unknown in the minds of many college football fans. That will happen when the biggest win on your resume is an overtime victory over Rutgers. But the Bulldogs remain in the hunt for a BCS at-large bid thanks to Carr’s arm, and he put up the best outing of his season on Saturday. Carr threw for 527 yards and a school-record seven touchdowns on 27-of-37 passing as Fresno State smothered New Mexico. A Mountain West title and a BCS berth — made more difficult by Northern Illinois leapfrogging Fresno State in the BCS rankings — could lift Carr into the Heisman conversation.
Manziel had a solid shot at becoming the country’s second two-time Heisman winner with a big outing against LSU. But Tigers defensive coordinator John Chavis has become Manziel’s kryptonite during his time in College Station. Manziel completed only 16 of his 41 pass attempts while LSU pressured him in the pocket with two sacks. He also tossed two interceptions. “We got punched in the mouth and it wasn’t fun,” Manziel told reporters after the game. Manziel will still garner some Heisman voters, but playing his worst game of the year this late in the season won’t help his chances.
Petty had accounted for 10 total touchdowns in his last two games prior to Saturday’s meeting with Oklahoma State. He was also the nation’s leader in passing efficiency. But neither of those notions stopped the Cowboys’ defense from keeping Petty in check. The quarterback’s final stat line was not unimpressive – he passed for 359 yards and two touchdowns – but both of those scores came in the fourth quarter when the game was well out of reach. Petty also completed only 28 of his 48 pass attempts. As a result, he now ranks second in the nation in passing efficiency, just behind Heisman Watch leader Jameis Winston.
Oregon’s quarterback still had plenty of time to work his way back into the Heisman picture after his poor performance against Stanford on Nov. 7. But a 26-point loss to an unranked Arizona team wasn’t the way to do it. Mariota threw his first two interceptions of the year against the Wildcats, the first on Oregon’s first play from scrimmage. Mariota and the Ducks offense couldn’t take advantage of outgaining Arizona 506-482 in total yards. The sophomore’s run at New York is all but over.
Tweets of the week
Andre Williams, the offensive workhorse:
BC's Andre Williams has more rushing yards than 80 other FBS TEAMS.—
sir broosk (@celebrityhottub) November 24, 2013
LSU has Johnny Manziel’s number:
Johnny Manziel has only two career games with a passer rating below 100. Both came against LSU.—
Cody Worsham (@CodyWorsham) November 24, 2013
Just how good is AJ McCarron?
A.J. McCarron would rank No. 5 in the Big Ten in passing yards. If you haven't noticed, the Big Ten is not a good QB league this year.—
ESPN Big Ten (@ESPN_BigTen) November 24, 2013
Video of the week
Andre Williams highlights set to Super Mario music? Yes, please.