Heisman Race 2013: Ranking QBs Most Deserving of Prestigious Award

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIINovember 16, 2013

COLLEGE STATION, TX - NOVEMBER 09:  Johnny Manziel #2 of the Texas A&M Aggies celebrates a touchdown pass in the third quarter during the game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Kyle Field on November 9, 2013 in College Station, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The 2013 Heisman Trophy race is still rather wide open, but chances are, a quarterback is going to take home the celebrated individual accolade rewarded to college football's most outstanding player.

Quarterback is the most important position in football, and since 2000, only two Heisman winners haven't played the position.

While having a national championship-contending team helps the cause, circumstances, numbers and what the player is able to do with the talent around him all have to be accounted for, too.

With those factors in mind, here is a ranking of which quarterbacks most deserve the most prestigious award in the college game.

Note: Team statistics are courtesy of NCAA.com.


1. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

COLLEGE STATION, TX - NOVEMBER 09:  Johnny Manziel #2 of the Texas A&M Aggies waits on the field before the game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Kyle Field on November 9, 2013 in College Station, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The reigning Heisman Trophy holder is making an excellent case to take home the hardware in New York City for the second year in a row.

In the two losses the Aggies have suffered this season, Manziel has accounted for an astounding 1064 yards of total offense and put up a combined 83 points in those games.

Texas A&M has the 103rd-ranked defense in the country (out of 117) in yielding 454.4 total yards per game, along with conceding 40 touchdowns to the opposition.

Manziel's completion percentage is up by five points, and he's thrown five more touchdowns than he did all of last season and seen his yards per pass attempt balloon to 10.5, up two whole yards from 2012.

By transforming himself into a more effective pocket passer and bailing out a horrendous defense, this has arguably been a more impressive all-around display from "Johnny Football" than when he burst onto the scene as a redshirt freshman.

Thus, he deserves to be ranked No. 1, especially since he's stood up to the challenge of facing the country's best competition in the SEC.


2. Jameis Winston, Florida State

WINSTON SALEM, NC - NOVEMBER 09:  Jameis Winston #5 of the Florida State Seminoles celebrates after a touchdown by his team during their game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at BB&T Field on November 9, 2013 in Winston Salem, North Carolina.  (Photo
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The freshman phenom has displayed outstanding skills in leading the Seminoles to their current No. 2 standing in the BCS.

All indications suggest they will stay there, but while Winston is a key reason as to why, this roster is absolutely loaded.

Florida State's swarming defense lets up only 4.09 yards per play, which afford the offense plenty of opportunities. Winston's backfield goes three-deep with the likes of Devonta Freeman, Karlos Williams and James Wilder Jr.

Combine that with explosive weapons in the passing game in Rashad Greene, Kenny Shaw and gritty tight end Nick O'Leary, and Winston is in a consistent position to flourish.

To compare Winston to Manziel, the former's ACC competition isn't all that tough. The Seminoles don't play a team with a current winning record in the last four games of the regular season, which should harm his Heisman stock.

In oddsmakers' eyes, it appears the gap between the perceived favorite in Winston and Manziel is closing at least a little, per CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman:

Winston's numbers are incredible; he added to them on Saturday against Syracuse in completing 19 of 21 passes for 277 yards and two touchdowns. However, given the amazing team Florida State is fielding this season, he's not as astonishing as Manziel.


3. Bryce Petty, Baylor

WACO, TX - NOVEMBER 07:  Quarterback Bryce Petty #14 of the Baylor Bears throws the ball in the first quarter against the Oklahoma Sooners at Floyd Casey Stadium on November 7, 2013 in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The first big test for the Bears' senior came last week against Oklahoma, and Petty passed with flying colors, even overcoming the adversity of a rocky start.

Petty has been the catalyst for Baylor's offense that has scored a nation-high 61 points per game. That side of the ball has been an Art Briles staple, but the defense has held the Bears back from being elite in recent years.

Such is not the case in 2013, as Baylor ranks No. 7 in scoring defense entering Saturday evening's marquee Big 12 showdown with Texas Tech.

Given that the Red Raiders are on a three-game skid and are struggling to defend, there's no reason for Petty to suffer a letdown at Dallas Cowboys Stadium.

To accentuate just how efficient and wise with the football Petty has been, ESPN's official College GameDay Twitter pointed out how Petty was tied atop the country in QBR entering Week 12:

But again, Petty doesn't approach Manziel due to his superior supporting cast—with Lache Seastrunk as a valuable complement at running back with 11 touchdowns—and inferior competition.

Throwing 21 touchdowns to just one interception, though, doesn't exactly hurt a Heisman candidacy, nor does guiding Baylor to No. 5 in the BCS at this late juncture of the year.


4. Marcus Mariota, Oregon

PALO ALTO, CA - NOVEMBER 07:  Marcus Mariota #8 of the Oregon Ducks fumbles the ball when pressured by James Vaughters #9 of the Stanford Cardinal in the fourth period at Stanford Stadium on November 7, 2013 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

In the biggest test of the year, Mariota did not play up to the gaudy hype that surrounded him in a 26-20 loss to Stanford that wasn't as close as the scoreboard indicated.

Credit Mariota for spurring a late rally and fighting through a partially sprained MCL ligament, but there is one attribute so important among successful quarterbacks he seems to lack. It surfaced at times against the Cardinal, but it was a theme before then.


Entering Saturday, the idle Manziel was completing 73 percent of his passes, Winston was at 69.2 percent and Petty was just under 67 percent.

Mariota was at 63.3 percent, and it would be one thing if he were taking more deep shots and averaging more yards per attempt than any of his fellow Heisman hopefuls.

Alas, the Ducks sophomore is the only one not in the double-digits in the yards per attempt category at 9.8.

That is not to knock anything Mariota has done to date. To be honest, it's nitpicking to a large degree. After all, he hasn't thrown an interception all year and had accounted for 31 total touchdowns ahead of Saturday's game against Utah.

No apologies here, though. This is the Heisman Trophy, and there are three other quarterbacks more deserving of the award than Mariota right now.


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