Week 8 of the college football season was perhaps the most eventful week of the year up to this point; six of the nation’s top 10 teams were upset.
While the consensus top three in the Heisman standings are still the same with Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, Texas A&M quarterback and the winner of the Heisman trophy last year, Johnny Manziel, and Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater leading the pack, there were three players this week who could pose a threat to the previous three’s Heisman odds. Manziel and Bridgewater both remain top candidates despite each of them losing in Week 8.
As we move forward, here are the three players who have emerged as legitimate threats in the Heisman race.
Jameis Winston, Quarterback, Florida State
“Famous” Jameis Winston has continued his spectacular statistical output after a 51-14 romping over formerly third ranked Clemson.
Against Clemson, Winston passed for 444 yards with three touchdowns with just one interception. Winston accumulated those numbers while completing 64.7 percent of his passes against one of the nation’s toughest defenses. Winston’s impact wasn’t limited to just the air as Winston also contributed a rushing touchdown.
Winston, a 19-year-old redshirt freshman, is having a phenomenal year for the Seminoles. He has already thrown for 1885 yards with 20 touchdowns while limiting his interception count to three. He has also completed 71.3 percent of his passes. Winston also has three rushing touchdowns in 2013. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Winston's first half stats are in historic company.
Jameis Winston is responsible for 20 more TD than turnovers. That's equal to Johnny Manziel & RGIII thru 6 games of their Heisman seasons.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 20, 2013
Johnny Manziel was able to win the Heisman last season as a redshirt freshman and Winston might be able to continue that trend.
The Seminoles have a few tough games remaining on their schedule, including the sixth ranked Miami Hurricanes and the Florida Gators. If Winston continues to put up big numbers, specifically against those teams, there is a good chance he could pull the upset over current Heisman favorite Marcus Mariota.
Melvin Gordon, Running Back, Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Badgers continue to be a breeding ground for top-level college football running backs. This year, it is redshirt sophomore Melvin Gordon.
Through seven games, Gordon has rushed already eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark (1,012 yards to be exact) and he has found the end zone 11 times. He is also averaging 9.5 yards per carry, according to Big Ten football analyst Tom Dienhart.
Marcus Mariota & Jameis Winston 10/11 Heisman co-favorites @Sportsbook_com after Saturday night.— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) October 20, 2013
Gordon has only had one game where he didn’t rush for at least 100 yards, which was September 21st in the Badgers’ loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Every team remaining on Wisconsin’s schedule struggles to stop the run. Keeping this in mind, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Gordon rush for another 600-700 yards. Gordon is a difference maker and he has a lot of talent, which could not only lead to him winning the Big Ten Player of the Year, but he could also walk away with the Heisman Trophy at the end of the season.
Sean Mannion, Quarterback, Oregon State
Although he is seems to be living in the shadow of fellow Pac-12 quarterback Marcus Mariota, Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion has quietly put together a very productive season through eight weeks.
Mannion, who has already thrown for 2992 yards and 29 touchdowns with just three interceptions, would likely be higher in the Heisman race if not for Oregon State’s bad loss in the opening weekend of the season to FCS school Eastern Washington.
Despite the loss, Mannion has continued to put together a statistically genius 2013 season.
Oregon State hasn’t played many tough teams, but in their matchup with the Utah Utes, who defeated Stanford two weeks ago, Mannion threw for 443 yards and five touchdowns.
The Week 1 loss will be tough for him to overcome but Mannion is putting together a statistical season that is worthy of some kind of recognition.
If he can maintain his level of play in Oregon State’s last five games, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Mannion’s name appearing in Heisman conversations.