Heisman Watch 2013: Dark-Horse Candidates Who Deserve More Love

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Heisman Watch 2013: Dark-Horse Candidates Who Deserve More Love
Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013-14 college football season has been one of extraordinary proportions. Upsets have come at every turn, individuals have put on spectacular performances and the unpredictability of FBS play has been placed on full display.

The question is, how does the race for the most prestigious award in the country look? More importantly, which players are being underestimated in the hunt for the Heisman Trophy?

Let's find out.

Heisman Watch
Rank Player CBS ESPN NFL.com
1. Jameis Winston, Florida State 1 1 2
2. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M 2 2 1
3. Marcus Mariota, Oreogn 3 3 3
4. Bryce Petty, Baylor 4 4 5
5. A.J. McCarron, Alabama 5 5 N/A

Rankings provided by CBS, ESPN and NFL.com.

Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona Wildcats

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Position: Running Back

Class: Junior

2013-14 Season Statistics

216 ATT, 1221 YDS, 11 TD; 19 REC, 133 YDS

The fact that Johnny Manziel is still a frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy award confirms the notion that the quality of an individual's play outweighs team wins and losses. Manziel is a past winner, but that doesn't mean that another player shouldn't be subject to the same respect.

Should Kadeem Carey be a Heisman Trophy finalist?

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Ka'Deem Carey of the Arizona Wildcats deserves an invitation to New York City for that very reason.

Carey has 216 carries for 1,221 yards and 11 touchdowns in nine games played. He's topped 119 rushing yards in every single game, and he has scored a touchdown in seven of those nine outings.

Arizona may be 6-4, but that shouldn't have any impact on the way Carey is viewed.

Chances are Carey won't be invited to New York, and he will continue to go on as one of the most underrated players in the country. This comes after he ran for 1,929 yards and 23 touchdowns as a sophomore, which should've built up his Heisman hype last season.

Instead, Carey's flying under the radar. Again.

Derek Carr, Fresno State Bulldogs

Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Position: Quarterback

Class: RS Senior

2013-14 Season Statistics

3421 YDS, 69.5 CMP%, 32 TD, 4 INT; 31 ATT, 78 YDS, 2 TD

The Fresno State Bulldogs haven't played the most difficult schedule, and that's a fair reason to overlook Derek Carr. During the course of the regular season, however, Carr has emerged as one of the best pocket passers in the nation.

Is Derek Carr a Heisman Trophy candidate?

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That deserves some form of respect.

Carr presently has 3,421 passing yards, 32 touchdowns and four interceptions on a completion percentage of 69.5. He's also rushed for two touchdowns and is two games away from completing a perfect regular season at Fresno State.

Big name or not, that's an impressive level of success.

Carr has four separate games with at least 50 passing attempts and six with at least four total touchdowns. He's topped 400 passing yards in five games and earned signature victories over Boise State and Rutgers, when he combined for nine touchdowns to one pick.

Carr won't win the award, but he deserves more respect than he's receiving.

A.J. McCarron, Alabama Crimson Tide

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Position: Quarterback

Class: RS Senior

Signature Moment: 49-42 win at Texas A&M

2013-14 Season Statistics

2041 YDS, 69.4 CMP%, 19 TD, 3 INT

Since A.J. McCarron became a starter at the University of Alabama, he's gone 34-2 with two BCS National Championships. He's thrown 68 touchdowns to 11 interceptions, has three rushing scores and has never once lost two consecutive games.

Whether or not he wins it is another conversation, but the fact that McCarron is viewed as a distant contender for the Heisman Trophy is puzzling.

Does A.J. McCarron deserve to be a Heisman Trophy finalist?

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Through all of the talk of McCarron being a game-manager, detractors are quick to forget when McCarron out-dueled Manziel and the Texas A&M Aggies in College Station. He was 20-of-29 for 334 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions, and he threw three scores to no picks against LSU.

His statistics may not be as lofty as Manziel's or Jameis Winston's, but there's something to be said about a quarterback who can lead a team to victories.

The most significant piece of information is that McCarron is in a position to win a third consecutive national title. It'd be difficult to defend a player performing at that high of a level and still finishing his career without a single invitation to New York City.

Manziel and Winston appear to be the top two contenders, but if Alabama wins out and McCarron continues to play at his current level, he deserves consideration.

Bryce Petty, Baylor Bears

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Position: Quarterback

Class: RS Junior

Signature Moment: 

2013 Season Statistics

2657 YDS, 66.8 CMP%, 21 TD, 1 INT; 44 ATT, 118 YDS, 8 TD

The Baylor Bears are currently undefeated at 8-0 with Top 10 rankings in scoring offense, scoring defense, passing yards per game and rushing yards per contest. At the heart of that success is quarterback Bryce Petty, who has been methodical as he tears apart opposing defenses.

Should Bryce Petty be a Heisman Trophy finalist?

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When it comes to the Heisman Trophy conversation, it's rare that he's mentioned in the same breath as Manziel or Winston. He should be.

Petty currently has 2,657 passing yards, 21 touchdowns and one interception on a completion percentage of 66.8. He's also rushed for eight touchdowns and is facing four high-quality opponents in his final five games.

If Baylor wins out, Petty should be viewed in the same light as Manziel and Winston.

The Big 12 may not be the strongest conference in football, but Petty has been one of the best players in the nation. His efficiency has been mixed with flat-out dominance, which is the recipe for a player to win the Heisman Trophy award.

Until Baylor gets through games against Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas, however, Petty will continue to be on the outside looking in. One can only hope that his stock will improve if the Bears win those games.

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