With the Irish on a bye and the regular season half over (typing that made me cringe) I thought it would be a good time to check in on this year’s Heisman race. The field is loaded this year, and no clear cut favorite has emerged, so let’s take a look at who can be headed to New York in December.
First off, the winner will be a quarterback. I know there are usually complaints that this award only goes to quarterbacks anymore, but this year it is warranted. The QB class was hyped up in the summer as one of the best ever, and almost every one of those players has lived up to the hype. Players like Duke Johnson of Miami and Bishop Sankey of Washington have been terrific running the ball, but they really have no chance.
I should probably start with the defending Heisman holder, Johnny Manziel. Johnny looks to have checked his off-season problems at the locker room door, and is having another terrific season in College Station. He is one of the few players that can lose a marquee game and actually raise his stock as he did against Alabama earlier in the season. You can bet that his performance against Saban’s stingy defense will be fresh in voters minds in a few months. In the SEC, Johnny Football will have plenty of chances to show what he’s got on national television, and a strong second half to the season will most likely lead to at least another trip to New York for the trophy presentation.
The current front runner is probably Marcus Mariota of Oregon. Unlike past Duck quarterbacks, Mariota is just as much of a threat to beat you with his arm as he is with his legs. He has 21 total touchdowns through the first five games, and has at least one touchdown passing and rushing through every game so far. At his current pace, it would be very hard for somebody to unseat him at the top of the Heisman heap, as voters have shown in the past to love the mobile quarterbacks that could do it all (Tim Tebow, RG3). He’ll have a chance to impress voters Saturday in a showdown with Washington.
Two ACC quarterbacks find themselves in the thick of the race as well. One was expected to be there, and that’s Tajh Boyd. Boyd is a projected top ten pick in next year’s draft, and has his Clemson Tigers in the mix of a national title chase. He’s thrown for nearly 1500 yards already and 14 touchdowns. He already notched one huge win when he took down Georgia, and he will have another shot at a huge win next week when he takes on another Heisman contender.
Which brings me to Jameis Winston. Jameis had a ton of hype surrounding him this summer, and I couldn’t understand why. Yes, he had some great high school film, and he was outstanding in the spring game, but to mention him as a darkhorse heisman contender seemed ludicrous to me. Turns out I was wrong. Jameis has not only lived up to the lofty expectations; he has SHATTERED them. I’m not sure even his biggest fans could have predicted him to throw for 17 touchdowns while completing nearly 75% of his passes. This kid is just a freshman, and will have his shot at a heisman someday, but with a win over Clemson next week, “someday” could be this December.
Other names to watch:
Aaron Murray, Georgia: This kids put up good numbers while playing the nation’s toughest first half schedule. If the heisman was given to the nation’s most valuable player, my vote would be for him. You could argue that without him, UGA would have three losses already.
Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville: Over 1500 yards passing and 16 touchdowns for the projected #1 pick in next year’s NFL draft. He may be the best player in the nation, but his soft schedule and lack of marquee games could cost him.
AJ McCarron, Alabama: I rarely hear him in the discussion. He doesn’t have the numbers the other candidates have, but it’s hard to ignore the starting quarterback of a college football dynasty. If he can put up big numbers in the second half of the year, he has an outside shot at getting invited to New York, even if it is more of a “lifetime achievement award”. Let’s not forget that when Saban’s defense couldn’t defeat Johnny Football, AJ did.
Game Balls: Week 6
Jameis Winston, QB Florida State: Was 23-32 for 393 yards and five touchdowns in an impressive 63-0 win over #25 Maryland. His second Donchez Game Ball.
Duke Johnson, RB Miami: Had 325 all purpose yards in a 45-30 win over Georgia Tech. Also his second Donchez Game Ball.
This week for the Irish:
A well deserved week off. I think this bye comes at a perfect time, as the Irish are coming off two straight close, emotional games against good competition. They’ll need to bring the emotion again next week, so I like the fact that they get to recharge their batteries for the Trojans on the 19th. Notre Dame is 4-2 at the halfway point and just outside of the national rankings; not exactly where they envisioned themselves at this point. The good news is that after playing a very tough first half schedule which included games at Michigan, hosting Oklahoma, and a neutral site contest against Arizona State, the Irish will get a bit of a breather for the final six. ND was an underdog in all three of the games I mentioned, and while it certainly does not guarantee victory, they will be favored in every game the rest of the way until they visit Stanford to close the season. As rough as this season has been at times, a BCS bowl is still not out of the question.
What else I’m watching this week
#9 Texas A&M @ Ole Miss
Most people have the Aggies rolling into Mississippi and coming away with an easy win. Relax a minute. Ole Miss is a very good football team that is desperate after dropping their past two games. They lost an absolute heartbreaker in College Station last year, and will have revenge on their mind this week. I think an upset is possible here.
#2 Oregon @ #16 Washington
The Ducks offense is as explosive as ever even without Chip Kelly, as they have rolled up half a hundred on every team they’ve played so far. They run into a very good football team in Washington on Saturday; probably the best they’ve played so far this year. Huskies’ quarterback Keith Price was disappointing last season after he wowed the nation with his Alamo Bowl performance against Robert Griffin III and Baylor, but he is back to that form this season and playing as well as he has in his entire career. I think Oregon starters will see a full game for the first time this season, as Washington won’t go down without a fight.
Week 7 Picks
NCAAF YTD: 6-4
NFL YTD: 2-0
Overall YTD: 8-4
Last week: 2-0 (SMU +4.5, Wake Forest +7)
Arkansas +5.5 hosting South Carolina
Penn State +1.5 hosting Michigan ***(LOVE this play)***
I may post addiontal picks on Twitter later in the week.
Questions or feedback? Contact me on Twitter @tylerdonchez.