Heisman Watch 2013: Previewing the Top Contenders Matchups for Week 12

Sebastian Lena@SP7988Analyst INovember 13, 2013

Heisman Watch 2013: Previewing the Top Contenders Matchups for Week 12

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    Can Winston strengthen his vice grip on the top spot this weekend?
    Can Winston strengthen his vice grip on the top spot this weekend?Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    With just four weeks remaining in the college football season, the potential contenders for the Heisman Trophy have become fewer and fewer.

    This week, none of the top contenders face a decent defense. It should be fully expected that nearly all will only strengthen their case.

    It could be argued that the only one who will suffer in the polls will be Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, as he is on a bye week.

    Other than that, expect a lot of stat padding over this weekend.

    So without further ado, let’s take a look at the top five Heisman candidates in action this weekend and how they will likely fare.

    Author’s Note: The five players chosen are in accordance to ESPN’s Heisman Watch. The points listed under the Expert's Poll for each player are listed here as “Poll Points." The number of first-place votes is listed in parenthesis.

5. Ka'Deem Carey (Arizona)

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    Carey has been a treat to watch this season.
    Carey has been a treat to watch this season.Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

    Poll Points: 6

    Season Stats: 216 CAR, 1,221 YDs, 11 TDs, 19 REC, 133 YDs

    Week 12 Matchup: Washington State (4-5) at Arizona (6-3), Nov. 16, 2 p.m. ET on Pac-12 Network

    The Skinny

    Running back Ka’Deem Carey is making his case for inclusion in December’s ceremonies in New York City.

    The junior was especially impressive in the Wildcats' 31-26 loss to UCLA last weekend. He did everything he could to help the team pull off an upset, rushing for 149 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries.

    Although Carey’s efforts weren’t enough against the Bruins, his season-long performance has garnered him national attention—he’s rushed for at least 119 yards in all eight games he’s played.

    Against the Cougars, expect Carey’s high play to continue.

    Through nine games, Washington State ranks No. 85 against the run (185.6 yards per game). The team has allowed 17 touchdowns on the ground while conceding a generous 4.5 yards per carry.

    Not exactly the most formidable of run defenses.


    Carey has a field day.

    Not only will Arizona pull off the win, but Carey will make a valid case to enter the top five among the potential Heisman candidates. With remaining games against No. 6 Oregon and No. 19 Arizona State, he has plenty of chances to showcase why he deserves such praise.

    Does Carey have what it takes?

    Stock Change: Rise

4. QB AJ McCarron (Alabama)

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    Don't look now, but McCarron is making a major charge up the ranks for Heisman.
    Don't look now, but McCarron is making a major charge up the ranks for Heisman.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Poll Points: 23 (1)

    Season Stats: 69.4 CMP%, 2,041 YDs, 19 TDs, 3 INTs, 169.1 RAT

    Week 12 Matchup: No. 1 Alabama (9-0) at Mississippi State (4-5), Nov. 16, 7:45 p.m. ET on ESPN

    The Skinny

    Quarterback AJ McCarron proved his growth this season was no fluke last weekend.

    Facing an LSU team that he had struggled against throughout his career, the senior looked poised, confident and comfortable under center. He threw for 179 yards and three touchdowns on 14-of-20 passing to lead the Tide to a 38-17 victory.

    It marked the first time in his career that McCarron had thrown multiple touchdowns in three straight games.

    Next up, he’ll get a little breathing room against a Mississippi State Bulldogs squad that has struggled against the pass. The team ranks No. 64 in the category (231.2 YPG). Furthermore, Mississippi State has conceded 16 touchdowns through the air while picking off just eight passes.

    Not to mention, the team has lost two straight.


    McCarron increases his multiple-touchdown streak to four games.

    Expect Alabama to favor the pass against a Bulldogs team that is actually quite decent in stopping the run. McCarron will get a chance to prove he deserves serious consideration for the Heisman.

    With other contenders suddenly looking vulnerable, now’s as good a chance as ever to make a charge.

    Stock Change: Rise

3. QB Bryce Petty (Baylor)

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    Petty has been great for the Bears under center this season.
    Petty has been great for the Bears under center this season.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Poll Points: 28

    Season Stats: 66.8 CMP%, 2,657 YDs, 21 TDs, 1 INT, 210.6 RAT, 44 CAR, 118 YDs, 8 TDs

    Week 12 Matchup: Texas Tech (7-3) vs. No. 5 Baylor (8-0), Nov. 16, 7 p.m. ET on Fox

    The Skinny

    With the Bears facing their toughest test of the season against Oklahoma last weekend, quarterback Bryce Petty put in arguably his most impressive performance of 2013.

    Although the junior’s stats may not have been his best, Petty showcased the kind of leadership that national title contenders need from their quarterback. In a 41-12 rout, he accounted for all five touchdowns while throwing for 204 yards and rushing for another 45.

    Without Petty, Baylor would not be sitting at 8-0 for the first time in school history.

    Against a free-falling Red Raiders squad, expect the Bears and Petty to continue that dominance.

    Sure, Texas Tech’s secondary has been pretty solid thus far, ranking No. 38 against the pass (218.0 YPG) entering Week 12. However, the team has allowed an average of 46.3 points per game in its three losses.

    That average should only increase after Saturday.


    Petty will turn in another solid performance, but it will be the run game that steals the show for Baylor this time. 

    The Red Raiders' rush defense is a notable weakness. The team ranks No. 77, allowing 177.3 yards per game and conceding 22 touchdowns on the ground.

    This will be running back Lache Seastrunk's time to shine.

    Stock Change: Same

2. QB Marcus Mariota (Oregon)

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    Mariota will try and get back on the right track this weekend.
    Mariota will try and get back on the right track this weekend.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Poll Points: 30

    Season Stats: 63.6 CMP%, 2,531 YDs, 22 TDs, 0 INT, 173.4 RAT, 62 CAR, 495 YDs, 9 TDs

    Week 12 Matchup: Utah (4-5) at No. 6 Oregon (8-1), Nov. 16, 4 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1

    The Skinny 

    For the first time all season, quarterback Marcus Mariota couldn’t make a difference in a game. As a result, the Ducks suffered their first loss of the season, 26-20, to Stanford last week.

    For three quarters, the sophomore quarterback and his Oregon offense failed to put up points on the scoreboard. He finished with 250 yards and two touchdowns on 20-of-34 passing. However, Mariota struggled on the ground, recording negative rushing yards for the first time in his career.

    Against a lackluster Utes secondary, expect Mariota to take advantage.

    Through nine games, the unit ranks No. 84 against the pass (239.9 YPG). Not only has Utah allowed 13 passing touchdowns and 7.1 yards per attempt, but the Utes defense has managed to pick off only two passes all year.

    Not a good sign against a quarterback who doesn’t make many mistakes.


    Mariota dominates.

    Oregon pounds the Utes and makes a case to get back into the hunt for both Pac-12 and BCS titles. Expect Mariota to more than make up for his setback against Stanford and gain some ground in the Heisman race.

    But is it all just a little too late?

    Stock Change: Rise

1. QB Jameis Winston (Florida State)

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    Can anyone slow down Winston?
    Can anyone slow down Winston?Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Poll Points: 76 (13)

    Season Stats: 69.2 CMP%, 2,661 YDs, 26 TDs, 7 INTs, 192.2 RAT, 53 CAR, 157 YDs, 3 TDs

    Week 12 Matchup: Syracuse (5-4) at No. 2 Florida State (9-0), Nov. 16, 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC

    The Skinny

    It’s quarterback Jameis Winston’s world and we’re just living in it.

    The redshirt freshman led the Seminoles to another blowout win, topping Wake Forest 59-3 last weekend. However, strong play from the defense—seven forced turnovers and two touchdowns—and three scores from the rushing attack limited Winston’s numbers.

    Still, in just a little over two quarters worth of action, he threw for 159 yards, two touchdowns with one interception on 17-of-28 passing.

    Against the Orange this weekend, expect Winston to go back to lighting up the stat sheet.

    Through nine games, Syracuse ranks No. 63 against the pass (230.9 YPG). The team has given up 14 touchdowns through the air while allowing 6.7 yards-per-passing attempt.

    It should be just another day at the office for Winston and Florida State.


    Winston lights it up.

    The Orange are surprisingly good against the run, meaning that the Seminoles will likely have to turn to the pass to assert their authority. That should be no problem for Winston, who should have little trouble surpassing 300 yards while tossing three or four touchdowns.

    The Heisman is his to lose.

    Stock Change: Rise

    All stats and rankings used in this article are courtesy of NCAA.com.

    For complete coverage and everything college football, you can reach Sebastian on Facebook, on Twitter and via e-mail at Sebastian.LenaBR@gmail.com