And then there were....6?
We've always considered our top five the "New York" candidates, even though the number of players invited to the Location Formerly Known As The Downtown Athletic Club varies generally from 3 to 5. This year, however, the powers-that-be bucked the system and invited six players. We're sticking to our guns and announcing our final tally as the top five. These are the players we would have in New York, and three of them—out top three—actually made it!
First, of course, is Jameis Winston. In the end he led the only undefeated team in the nation, and many other candidates had their spotless record as their only real selling point. Winston held onto that and also transformed a very good team into a great one following four years of E.J. Manual at FSU. This also contrasts with several candidates who simply carried on the team's success with former players. Winston had a great completion percentage (68%), threw 38 touchdowns and ran for four more. The last game (Duke) wasn't his best—he completed 59% and threw 2 picks—but he accounted for four touchdowns in another blowout win. And let's face it, most importantly, he wasn't charged, for whatever reason. We can only go on what we know about that situation, which is: nothing.
Despite his team suffering their first loss we keep Jordan Lynch of Northern Illinois as the runner-up. For a long time it looked like the second NIU lost a game, Lynch would plummet off the radar (those that he was on) but as the rushing yards mounted to a ridiculous 1,800+ on the strength of two 300+ yard games, it was clear he was here to stay. He added 126 more in the loss to Bowling Green, and his sole loss—weak schedule acknowledged—keeps him ahead of Johnny Football's 4 losses.
Johnny Manziel did about as well as a quarterback candidate with 4 losses can do, and we have him 3rd in the end. He led our rankings for most of the season, even with 2 losses, as he kept doing ridiculous things and even increased his stock in the Alabama loss. Finally, he declined with the last two losses and couldn't pull off the repeat, but he's still the most fun player to watch.
FINAL SportsRatings Heisman Trophy Rankings for 2013:
- Jameis Winston, QB Florida State (13-0; beat Duke 45-7)
LW: 19-32 59.4% 330yd 3TD 2int 10rsh 59yd 5.9av 1TD 0fmb
TOT: 237-349 67.9% 3820yd 38TD 10int 77rsh 193yd 2.5av 4TD 1fmb
- Jordan Lynch, QB N. Illinois (12-1; lost to Bowling Green 47-27)
LW: 21-40 52.5% 219yd 1TD 2int 26rsh 126yd 4.8av 2TD 0fmb
TOT: 233-369 63.1% 2676yd 23TD 7int 274rsh 1881yd 6.9av 22TD 1fmb 1recTD
- Johnny Manziel, QB Texas A&M (8-4; no game last week)
LW: no game
TOT: 270-391 69.1% 3732yd 33TD 13int 133rsh 686yd 5.2av 8TD 1fmb
- [up 2] Bryce Petty, QB Baylor (11-1; beat Texas 30-10)
LW: 21-37 56.8% 287yd 2TD 0int 10rsh 24yd 2.4av 0TD 0fmb
TOT: 220-356 61.8% 3844yd 30TD 2int 83rsh 192yd 2.3av 11TD 4fmb
- Marcus Mariota, QB Oregon (10-2; no game last week)
LW: no game
TOT: 227-360 63.1% 3412yd 30TD 4int 81rsh 582yd 7.2av 9TD 4fmb
- Braxton Miller, QB Ohio State (12-0; beat Michigan 42-41)
- Tajh Boyd, QB Clemson (10-2; lost to South Carolina 31-17)
- A.J. McCarron, QB Alabama (11-1; lost to Auburn 34-28)
- Teddy Bridgewater, QB Louisville (10-1; no game last week)
- Brandin Cooks, WR Oregon St
- Melvin Gordon, RB Wisconsin
- Aaron Murray, QB Georgia
- Sean Mannion, QB Oregon St
- Jadeveon Clowney, DE South Carolina
- Marqise Lee, WR USC
We had Braxton Miller at #4 last week, but his stats were meager (we've been using that word a lot in reference to Miller) and though he lofted upward on the strength of his undefeated team, his undefeated team is undefeated no more and he falls out of the New York Club. Meanwhile Bryce Petty had a good win against Texas and actually finished with a better TD:int ratio (30:2) than #5 Marcus Mariota (30:4), which was inconceivable earlier in the season, so we move him up to #4. Petty and Mariota weren't named in the six official New York candidates, and we can see why: both are system quarterbacks, following other QBs who have done just as well at the same program. In that situation, perfection is demanded, both in performance and record. When those criteria are met, people fawn over your greatness. One slip, however, and it's kiss your candidacy goodbye. Both will be back next year to try again.
The rest of the field we've already covered over the weeks and they've fallen by the wayside for good reason. #8 A.J. McCarron is actually one of the six finalists, because...well, because people think he should get some recognition for what he did for Alabama over the years. With no strong reason to vote for anyone, why not put him #3? There's of course no chance he'll win and even placing in the top three would be a surprise, but the field is totally wide open after the #1 spot.
Other finalists we didn't have on our list all year include running backs Andre Williams of Boston College and Tre Mason of Auburn. Mason was a total non-entity as a candidate until he did very well against Alabama and then insanely good against Missouri (300+ yards good). He'll pick up a lot of the late vote, and especially for those who didn't follow anything until the last few weeks. Interestingly, Gus Malzahn was pushing quarterback Nick Marshall for the Heisman before the Missouri game; even he didn't think the running back was a top candidate.
Williams made news with several big rushing games over the last month and for topping 2,000 yards, but he had a dud game (due to injury) against Syracuse. He wasn't running that well before the injury, however, and his earlier 38-yard game against USC and 70-yard game vs. Clemson should have been viewed alongside his huge efforts. In the end, Williams and Mason will split the non-quarterback vote and that will hurt them....but the many other quarterbacks will split the "other quarterback" vote even further, so who knows, the running backs might finish #2 and #3.
This has been a weird Heisman year, to say the least, and it got weirdest near the end. Had Winston been charged then the winner could have been chosen with a roll of the dice. Let's hope we don't have a repeat of this year's particular circumstances any time soon.