Heisman Trophy

Johnny Manziel's Updated 2013 Heisman Outlook After Win over SMU

HOUSTON, TX- SEPTEMBER 21: Johnny Manziel #2 of the Texas A&M Aggies celebrates a touchdown pass agains the Southern Methodist Mustangs in the first half on September 21, 2013 at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas. (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)
Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images
Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer ISeptember 22, 2013

Right now, Johnny Manziel should be the Heisman front-runner. 

After the 42-13 victory over SMU on Saturday, Manziel has completed 70 percent of his passes for 1,228 yards (11.2 yards per pass attempt) while tossing 12 touchdowns to four interceptions in four games.

Granted, Texas A&M isn't undefeated like Marcus Mariota's Oregon Ducks, Teddy Bridgewater's Louisville Cardinals or Tajh Boyd's Clemson Tigers, but the loss to No. 1 Alabama shouldn't be held against Manziel.

After all, the Crimson Tide had to score seven touchdowns to beat Manziel and the Aggies in the 49-42 nail-biter on Sept. 14. Manziel had a school-record 464 passing yards while tossing five touchdowns to two interceptions. The dual-threat also ran for 98 yards.

Bridgewater leads Manziel in several statistical categories, including yards per pass attempt, quarterback rating, touchdown-to-interception ratio and completion percentage. But the difference is razor-thin between the two quarterbacks, and Bridgewater hasn't had to play Alabama, while coasting against Ohio, Eastern Kentucky, Kentucky and Florida International.

LOUISVILLE, KY - SEPTEMBER 21: Teddy Bridgewater #5 of the Louisville Cardinals throws a pass during the game against Florida International Panthers at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on September 21, 2013 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by John Sommers II/
John Sommers II/Getty Images

And that's where Manziel distances from BridgewaterMariota or Boyd so far this season: He's faced tougher competition. Not only that, he played pretty darn well against the No. 1 team in the country.

As TeamRankings.com points out, Texas A&M has a more difficult strength of schedule than Louisville, Clemson or Oregon at this point. For the entire 2013 season, A&M edges Clemson in strength of schedule, as Phil Steele noted in March.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - SEPTEMBER 7: Marcus Mariota #8 of the Oregon Ducks looks to throw a pass against the Virginia Cavaliers during the game at Scott Stadium on September 7, 2013 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Until other Heisman candidates prove they can excel against top competition this season, or until Manziel lays an egg against a poor quality opponent, Manziel is my front-runner. It's as simple as that.

Mariota comes in second place for me at this point, with Bridgewater a close third, and Boyd fourth.

Mariota faces ranked opponents Washington, UCLA and Stanford this season. Boyd faces Florida State and South Carolina. Bridgewater doesn't play any teams that are currently ranked. Manziel still has Ole Miss and LSU on the slate.

 

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