Heisman Power Rankings, Week 8: Jameis Winston Strikes Back

We're eight weeks in to our Heisman Power Rankings, and last weekend finally brought some major changes to the college football landscape. A few Heisman contenders fell, a few rose, and we're here to show you how it all went down.

Each week, we use our thorough, data-driven algorithm to predict the eventual winner of this year’s Heisman trophy. A few major upsets shook up this week’s Top 25…how did our field of Heisman hopefuls roll with the punches? Read on…

In our weekly Heisman Power Rankings, we take several factors into account:

1. Recent game performance

2. Season performance to date

3. Team ranking in Top 25 polls

4. Name recognition

5. Position played: QBs will be given additional weight given their recent domination of the Heisman award

6. Performance in big games

7. Heisman moment (a Yes/No answer for each candidate)

1. Jameis Winston, Florida State QB


Last Week: 2

Last Game: 22/34 for 444 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT; 7 carries for 2 yards and 1 TD in a 51-14 win over #3 Clemson

Season Stats: 20 TDs, 3 INTs, 1885 passing yards, 71.3 completion %; 43 carries for 137 yards and 3 rushing TDs

Team Ranking in AP poll: 3

Team Ranking in BCS Standings: 2

Name Recognition: B+

Wins don't get much more definitive than FSU's evisceration of #3 Clemson on Saturday. Winston and the Seminoles announced themselves to a national audience in the season's first top-5 showdown, and Winston has to be considered the Heisman frontrunner after such a comprehensive performance.

Winston looked like anything but a freshman in Saturday's win - he calmly and patiently dissected Clemson's defense, racking up 293 yards against the blitz as the Tigers tried to unsettle him by bringing waves of pressure. ESPN's NFL guru Adam Schefter was just as starry-eyed as the rest of us, confirming that Winston will be the #1 pick whenever he comes out and that a scout described Winston to him as "a cross between Ben Roethlisberger and Steve McNair". Just check out the highlights:


2. Marcus Mariota, Oregon QB


Last week: 1

Last game: 23/32 for 327 yards, 2 TDs and 0 INTs; 8 carries for 67 yards and 1 TD in a 62-38 win over Washington State

Season Stats: 19 TDs, 0 INTs, 2051 passing yards, 62.4 completion %; 49 carries for 493 yards and 9 rushing TDs

Team Ranking in AP Poll: 2

Team Ranking in BCS Standings: 3

Name Recognition: B+

It's safe to say that if the Heisman winner was announced today, it would be either Winston or Mariota. The Ducks QB is the only signal caller in the country who's played every game but still hasn't thrown an interception, and he has the most impressive stats of any college QB with a halfway-decent schedule (sorry Oregon State - we'll talk once you beat more than one team with a winning record).

If both Oregon and FSU win out, BCS and Heisman voters are in for a nightmare trying to separate the two schools and their excellent quarterbacks. In this year's loaded race, there's zero room for error - just one subpar performance will be enough to hamstring your chances.

3. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M QB


Last week: 4

Last game: 28/38 for 454 yards, 4 TDs and 2 INTs; 18 carries for 48 yards and 1 TD in a 45-41 loss to #24 Auburn

Season Stats: 18 TDs, 7 INTs, 2289 passing yards, 73.3 completion %; 85 carries for 486 and 6 rushing TDs

Team Ranking in AP Poll: 14

Team Ranking in BCS Standings: 16

Name Recognition: A+

Manziel did everything in his power to pull out a win on Saturday, but the Aggies fell just short. The Auburn Tigers were tenacious in their pursuit of Manziel, and the beating he took makes the final score understandable if not impressive. There was nothing Johnny Football could do to stop Auburn's Tre Mason from rushing for 178 yards, and laying the blame for the loss on Manziel's shoulders isn't fair at all.

A&M have three fairly easy games before ending their regular-season schedule against #13 LSU and #5 Missouri. The last two games are most important for A&M's bowl prospects, but the next three are absolutely vital for Manziel's Heisman candidacy. If he can't feast on Vanderbilt, UTEP and Mississippi State, he'll lose even more ground on Winston and Mariota.

4. Bryce Petty, Baylor QB


Last week: 5

Last game: 23/31 for 343 yards, 2 TDs and 0 INTs; 1 carry for 6 yards and 1 rushing TD in a 71-7 win over Iowa State

Season Stats: 15 TDs, 1 INT, 2023 passing yards, 70.8 completion %; 24 carries for 51 yards and 5 rushing TDs

Team Ranking in AP Poll: 6

Team Ranking in BCS Standings: 8

Name Recognition: C

After a down week where Baylor scored a paltry 35 points against Kansas State, Petty and the Bears got right back to business, cranking out 71 against poor Iowa State. Petty is the engine that drives Baylor's offense, and his poise and maturity in the pocket are why they've won 10 straight games.

Baylor plays three of their last five games against ranked teams, and that could turn into four if the Texas Longhorns keep winning. If Petty can keep rolling, he could gain even more ground on the guys leading the pack.

5. Tajh Boyd, Clemson QB


Last week:3

Last game: 17/37 for 156 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs; 14 carries for 8 yards in a 51-14 loss to #5 Florida State

Season Stats: 16 TDs, 4 INTs, 1939 passing yards, 63.1 completion %; 80 carries for 195 yards and 5 rushing TDs

Team Ranking in AP Poll: 9

Team Ranking in BCS Standings: 9

Name Recognition: B

Boyd's performance against #5 FSU on Saturday wasn't a complete catastrophe, but it was close. While Jameis Winston rose to the occasion and announced himself on a national stage, Boyd did just the opposite - he completed less than half of his passes, tossed two interceptions, and picked up just 8 yards on 14 rushing attempts.

Boyd isn't completely out of the Heisman race - he's still put together a very impressive season, and one bad performance won't keep him down if he bounces back and the Tigers win out. Still, it'll take some major duds from the players ranked ahead of him if Boyd is going to claw his way back into contention.

On the verge

AJ McCarron, Alabama QB

If Alabama wins their third national championship in four years, AJ McCarron will go down as the most successful quarterback in college football history. As a player, he isn't as dynamic as Winston or as dominant as Mariota, but he's still putting up excellent numbers in the strongest conference in the country (and no, Pac-12 fans, it isn't close). McCarron deserves recognition for his accomplishments, but unless he finds another gear this season, it won't be a Heisman.

Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville QB

Bridgewater had a great game against UCF, but Louisville's loss might end any lingering Heisman hopes. He's having a great year, but it's unfortunate that he'd have to put up unprecedented, phenomenal numbers just to compensate for his team's terrible schedule.

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