Jameis Winston didn't set the world on fire in a 59-3 win over Wake Forest on Saturday, but as a result of the week at large, his Heisman stock has never been higher.
The redshirt freshman finished 17-of-28 passing with 159 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, getting yanked from the game in the third quarter because his team was up by over 50 points.
Those numbers are nothing to write home about, but next to the colossal egg laid by Marcus Mariota—who generated all of zero points in the first 49 minutes of an upset loss at Stanford—they are exactly what Winston needed to take the lead in the Heisman Trophy race.
So long as the Seminoles keep rolling, this award might be his.
Florida State has no "giant" games left on its schedule, unless you think Florida will somehow magically heal before the two teams meet in Gainesville on Nov. 30. Winston has seized the big stage in blowout wins over Clemson and Miami, and it appears that might be enough.
Because his stats—particularly his efficiency numbers—are so strong, he doesn't even need to pad the box score against lesser opponents. Obviously, for the sake of his Heisman hopes, Winston should aim to put up bigger numbers than he did at Wake Forest. But one or two games like that will not completely derail him.
He entered the week second in the nation in passer rating, checking in at 201.12 (more than 15 points above third-place Johnny Manziel). That number will drop significantly after Saturday's performance, but with teams like Syracuse and Idaho still on the schedule, it will probably stabilize by season's end.
Manziel, who of course won the award as a redshirt freshman last year, is probably Winston's toughest competition, and the overall numbers might justify a second straight win for Johnny Football. But one number, the one in the loss column, does not. And that could be the deciding factor.
Manziel and Texas A&M have lost twice, while Winston and FSU are undefeated. A lot of that isn't Manziel's fault, since the Aggies scored 83 points in those two defeats, but it's a fact that still remains. For every Robert Griffin II, who won the award with giant numbers despite losing three games, there are roughly 10 Cam Newtons, who won the award by quarterbacking America's best team.
By that same token, perhaps Manziel isn't Winston's toughest competition. Perhaps AJ McCarron and Bryce Petty should start to be taken seriously. Neither gets enough credit for his team's success because both play in such uniquely good systems. But perhaps that sentiment will start to change?
Barring a major face-plant from Winston, those are the only things that could stop him from winning this award. Florida State should finish the season undefeated, and even though games like Saturday's don't help, Winston—unlike McCarron—will have the statistical profile of a Heisman Trophy quarterback.
That didn't change against Wake Forest, despite the fact that FSU's defense outshone its offense in the win. The ends justify the means, and Winston still had his team up 52-0 after 37 minutes of play.
Stats or no stats, it's hard to knock a guy for doing that—especially if he continues to break records in the process, as noted by David Hale of ESPN.com:
The biggest development of Week 11 was Oregon's loss at Stanford, which, of course, opened the door for Florida State to make the BCS National Championship Game and take home the famous crystal football.
That might not be the only hardware it produces.