All five Heisman contenders will be in action in Week 9, and all five should face a bit of a challenge.
For some, a ranked opponent stands in their way. For others, an underrated secondary awaits. And for one, this may be the last week we see them included in this list.
All in all, the grit of these players will surely be tested this weekend.
Let’s take a look at how each should fare in their respective matchups.
Author’s Note: The five players chosen are in accordance to ESPN’s Heisman Watch. The numbers listed under the Expert Poll are each player's listed “Poll Points”. The amount of first-place votes is listed in parenthesis.
Poll Points: 15
Season Stats: 70.8 CMP%, 2,023 YDs, 15 TDs, 1 INTs, 221.8 RAT, 24 CAR, 51 YDs, 5 TDs
Week 9 Matchup: at Kansas (2-4), Oct. 26, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN U
It’s about time someone from the Bears’ prolific offense cracked this list.
After completing just 57.1 percent of his passes during Baylor’s 35-25 escape against Kansas State on Oct. 12, Petty and the offense got back to business last weekend. The junior threw for 343 yards and accounted for three touchdowns on 23-of-31 passing while leading the Bears to a 71-7 thrashing of Iowa State.
In the process, he continued his streak of throwing for at least two scores and rushing for another in five consecutive games.
Now, Petty and Baylor make their second road trip of the season against the Jayhawks.
Although the team is 0-3 in Big 12 play, the play of its secondary has been solid. The unit has allowed just 215.2 yards per game through the air while conceding only eight passing touchdowns.
Petty could run into some difficulty on Saturday.
He plays decent, not spectacular.
While Kansas may be solid against the pass, the team struggles to defend the run—ranked No. 90 in the category. So expect the Bears to turn towards running back Lache Seastrunk a lot more.
Petty should do enough to get the win, but not enough to raise his Heisman stock.
Stock Movement: Same
Poll Points: 15
Season Stats: 68.6 CMP%, 2,992 YDs, 29 TDs, 3 INTs, 170.7 RAT
Week 9 Matchup: vs. No. 6 Stanford (6-1), Oct. 26, 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Sean Mannion has done everything in his power to restore respect and credibility to the Beavers after a surprise Week 1 loss to FCS-foe Eastern Washington.
The team has won six in a row and is 4-0 in the Pac-12 while the junior has led the nation in both passing yards and touchdowns. That includes putting together a string of three consecutive games with at least 400 yards and four touchdowns through the air.
But while Mannion's recent play has garnered him Heisman consideration, topping the Cardinal this weekend would most likely stamp his ticket to the ceremony.
It’s hard to tell what kind of secondary he will be facing this weekend.
On one hand, the unit just held UCLA’s dynamic quarterback Brett Hundley to under 200 passing yards and forced two interceptions. But on the other hand, Stanford has ranked No. 87 against the pass, giving up 12 touchdowns through the air and an average of 247.1 passing yards per game.
Can Mannion step up?
He will struggle a bit to find his rhythm.
Let’s be honest, this is Oregon State’s first real test of the season. Whether it’s at home or not won’t matter.
In a game that will be surprisingly low scoring, expect Mannion to have trouble finding his receivers. It wouldn’t be too far-fetched to believe he might have more turnovers than touchdowns.
This will be a tough outing for him.
Stock Movement: Drop
Poll Points: 38 (1)
Season Stats: 73.3 CMP%, 2,289 YDs, 18 TDs, 7 INTs, 182.8 RAT, 85 CAR, 486 YDs, 6 TDs
Week 9 Matchup: vs. Vanderbilt (4-3), Oct. 26, 12:21 p.m. ET on ESPN3
One can only imagine how quarterback Johnny Manziel’s season may have been if only he had a solid defense behind him.
Unfortunately, such a dream only exists in the mind of Manziel and Aggies fans alike.
In another atrocious showing by the defense, Texas A&M fell to Auburn 45-41 last weekend. No amount of magic from Manziel—28-of-38, 502 TOT YDs, 5 TDs—could stop the inevitable.
In fact, the sophomore played so well, long-time critic Paul Finebaum even pegged him as his Heisman favorite, via The Dallas Morning News' Sean Lester.
He did suffer an injury scare during the game, but as CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman reports, he should be good to go on Saturday.
With that said, Manziel will square off against a Commodores team that is coming off an upset over Georgia last Saturday. One that actually boasts a rather solid pass defense—No. 30 in nation (206.1 YPGA).
But while the defense has limiting opposing quarterbacks to just 10 passing touchdowns in seven games, the unit has only come away with four interceptions.
At best, Vanderbilt can hope to slow down Manziel.
He puts on a clinic.
Even in defeat, Manziel tends to come away with a terrific performance. The guy hasn’t had a bad performance since a 24-19 loss to LSU last October.
Don’t expect the Commodores to slow him down.
Stock Movement: Rise
Poll Points: 67 (6)
Season Stats: 71.3 CMP%, 1,885 YDs, 20 TDs, 3 INTs, 210.4 RAT, 43 CAR, 137 YDs, 3 TDs
Week 9 Matchup: vs. North Carolina State (3-3), Oct. 26, 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC
Jameis Winston and the Seminoles made a statement with their resounding 51-14 thrashing of Clemson in Death Valley last weekend.
For the former, leading his team to victory by way of a stellar performance—22-of-34, 444 YDs, 4 TDs—landed him a top spot in the Heisman conversation. For the latter, the win helped make a pretty good case as to why it deserves a berth in the BCS title game.
Expect Winston to help the stock of both even further against a Wolfpack defense that is a lot worse than the numbers might show.
Although the unit ranks No. 28 against the pass (204.8 YPG), North Carolina State has only managed six interceptions on the year.
Giving Winston no hesitation to attack the secondary is not a great formula for success.
With a date with No. 7 Miami on the horizon, expect Winston and Florida State to flex some muscle. Behind a strong defensive unit, the redshirt freshman will find himself on the field for quite some time.
That just leaves Winston more time to light up the stat sheet.
Stock Movement: Rise
Poll Points: 73 (9)
Season Stats: 62.4 CMP%, 2,051 YDs, 19 TDs, 0 INT, 181.7 RAT, 49 CAR, 493 YDs, 9 TDs
Week 9 Matchup: vs. No. 12 UCLA (5-1), Oct. 26, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN
With the Ducks about to embark on their toughest stretch of the schedule, quarterback Marcus Mariota will be under even more scrutiny.
Thus far, the sophomore has answered all the critics. That includes recent quality performances against Washington and Washington State over the last two weeks—848 TOT YDs, 7 TDs.
More impressively, Mariota has recorded at least one score both through the air and on the ground in each of Oregon’s seven games.
The team’s most difficult test of the season is ahead, with the Bruins coming into Eugene to visit.
Through six games, the defense ranks No. 34 against the pass (210.2 YPG). Furthermore, the unit has conceded just seven touchdowns through the air and has forced opposing quarterbacks into nine interceptions.
Could this be the first lousy performance of Mariota’s season?
He’ll do just OK.
UCLA should put up a fight early, forcing Mariota into some tough throws. Maybe he’ll even toss his first interception of the year.
However, without starting running back Jordon James, the Bruins can only hang around for so long. By halftime the Ducks should be able to gain control of the game.
It’ll be enough for Mariota to regain some respectable numbers.
Stock Movement: Same
All stats and rankings used in this article are courtesy of NCAA.com.