Going into the next few "decision weeks" of the FBS season, three players sit atop my personal leaderboard as frontrunners for the coveted Heisman Trophy. All three are quarterbacks, but all three provide a different dynamic for their respective teams. These quarterbacks are:
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Jameis Winston, Florida State
Bryce Petty, Baylor
Now before you go hating on my picks, let me explain my reasoning. AJ McCarron is the leader on a championship caliber team in Tuscaloosa, but he doesn't make the grade statistically and isn't a necessary piece to a championship puzzle. If you took AJ McCarron out of the picture, Alabama is still a national title contender.
You might want to throw some statistics in my face, citing names like Derek Carr and Garrett Gilbert in a futile attempt to rebel against common sports reasoning. Just remember, even if they did earn the trip, would they stand a chance? Did Case Keenum or Timmy Chang ever have a shot? No, because they never played in any games that were honestly relevant on a national scale.
The statistical argument currently supports Johnny Manziel. Johnny Football is working with 3300+ passing yards, and has already thrown for 31 TDs this year. Manziel has been the conductor of an offense that orchestrated 40+ points in 13 consecutive games. Manziel is the most efficient quarterback in the country, completing 73% of his throws. From a sophomore quarterback, these stats are nothing short of phenomenal, and it certainly doesn't hurt that he's the only freshman to ever win the award.
The knock on Manziel is that not many people like him. His likability took a gigantic hit this summer when he was asked to leave the Manning Quarterback Camp for reporting late one morning. Another knock on Manziel is that Texas A&M is irrelevant in the national title picture. Manziel will get his chance at an impact game when his team travels to Baton Rouge this weekend, and he'll also get the chance to help South Carolina when he travels to Missouri to play the Tigers in what would presumably be his final SEC Conference game.
Then there's Jameis Winston. "Famous Jameis" has made an incredible immediate impact, stepping into the starting quarterback spot on a Florida State team that hasn't even come close to defeat this season. Winston's likability, like Manziel's, has taken a hit recently, with a sexual assault scandal currently unfolding in Tallahassee. Winston will have to continue his dominance on the field if he wants to make the trip to New York, and this scandal is the only thing thing that could prevent him from going. Statistically, Winston isn't far from Manziel's numbers, but there's still an obvious difference. Going into this week, Winston still hasn't crossed the 3,000 yard mark passing, and his 28 TD passes are 3 behind Manziel's 31. Winston does quite compare with Manziel in completion percentage, completing 71% of his throws. The big bonus in Winston's corner is that his team is a relevant contender (and to some, even a favorite) for the last BCS National Championship.
This leaves us with Bryce Petty. You have to invite three players as finalists, and right now, Petty would have to get the nod. With 24 TDs to only 1 INT this season, it's actually kind of tough to argue against Petty statistically. Petty however, isn't nearly as efficient as Winston and Manziel, only completing 65% of his passes. Baylor's impressive rushing attack also constrains Petty's passing numbers, and the Baylor offense doesn't emphasize the passing attack quite as much as Florida State's or A&M's. The one huge knock on Petty is that he's just one of the many pieces that make Baylor's offense so effective. Another big blast on Petty is Baylor's schedule. There isn't much to it. Petty is easily the most disposable name on the list because his chances get hurt if Baylor loses a game. The Bears face their toughest test of the year when they travel to Stillwater to play Oklahoma State this weekend, and a potential loss poses a threat to Petty making the trip to the Heisman ceremony at all. This weekend's contest will be the decisive factor in how Baylor's season ends.
With these three different quarterbacks sitting atop the race, is there any way somebody else could slip into the picture by next month? It could definitely happen. As mentioned before, Petty's name drops off the list with a loss this weekend. If charges are filed against Jameis Winston, his name could drop out of the race as well, even though that's tough to foresee at this point. We can all remember in 2010 when Cam Newton was facing numerous allegations for accepting money to play, and those accusations didn't have any real impact on his Heisman chances. Money and sexual misconduct are two very different matters, but that's a conversation to have once all the facts surface and actual conclusions can be made. Manziel would have to be considered the favorite right now, and if he can go on the road in his last two SEC games and produce wins, his odds of winning a second Heisman will skyrocket.
While many factors in this year's Heisman Race remain undecided, one thing is certain: the last two weeks of the FBS Schedule are extremely important, and should be nothing less than spectacular.Back to the NCAA Newsfeed