Heisman Watch 2013: Grading Top Contenders' Performances from Week 12

Randy ChambersAnalyst INovember 17, 2013

Heisman Watch 2013: Grading Top Contenders' Performances from Week 12

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    Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

    College football fans were treated to some incredible performances from some of the top Heisman candidates in Week 12. With Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel on a bye week and the regular season quickly coming to an end, everybody needed to use last week's matchup as a statement to the Heisman committee.

    And boy did they.

    One quarterback racked up five total touchdowns for the second straight game, while another beat his opponent with his arm instead of his legs. But there is one candidate who hurt his stock more than anybody else.

Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois

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    Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

    Jordan Lynch played against Ball State the same way he's played pretty much all year: stupendously.

    Remove Lynch from Northern Illinois and you're looking at a team that probably wouldn't even be bowl eligible. Ball State was the Huskies' toughest opponent all year and the senior quarterback didn't blink an eye, throwing for 345 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 123 yards and two touchdowns.

    What's not to like?

    Northern Illinois head coach Rod Carey is on board as well, per the AP (via USA Today):

    If Jordan isn't in the conversation for the Heisman I don't know what people are watching, they were asleep, Carey said. In my estimation that trophy goes to the best player in the nation and with the performance he had tonight, he dang sure should be in that conversation.

    If this performance doesn't put him in the conversation, nothing will.

    Grade: A+

AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama

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    Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

    If there was any hope of AJ McCarron winning the Heisman, it was dashed in a lackluster 30-13 win against Mississippi State. Like most of his Alabama team, the senior quarterback struggled mightily.

    McCarron completed only 56.3 percent of his passes, which was by far the lowest this season since the season opener. He also threw two interceptions for the first time all year. McCarron had to be spectacular to have a fair shot at the individual award, and he just couldn't come through.

    He later told Andrew Gribble of AL.com that this type of performance was good for the team:

    It makes us focus on working again in practice and not being complacent, he said. We've got another tough game on the road last game of the season at Auburn. It was good for us to struggle and still get a win.

    It always helps your team kind of bounce back from that. Kind of reminds you you're not as good as you think.

    Good for Alabama, bad for serious consideration to win the Heisman.

    Grade: D-

Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor

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    Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

    There's nothing Bryce Petty can't do.

    Baylor found itself trailing Texas Tech 14-0 to begin the first quarter, but it wasn't a problem for the junior quarterback. Petty calmly gathered his troops, threw for 335 yards and three touchdowns and added two rushing touchdowns just for good measure. It's his second straight game with five total touchdowns.

    Talk about Heisman worthy.

    Petty later talked about the comeback 63-34 win over Texas Tech, via the AP (h/t USA Today):

    Tonight showed us a lot. We're a resilient team, said Petty, I think there's a lot of talent involved, but we have a lot of guys that work hard. And that's what you've got to have. It's more than just talent. You've got to have those guys that are going to push through a little adversity.

    Petty has been somewhat of a dark horse for most of the year, but he is quickly rising up the charts with performances like this.

    Grade: A+

Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

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    After a dreadful performance against Stanford, Marcus Mariota needed to step up in order to get his name back into the conversation.

    He did just that in a 44-21 win over Utah.

    Despite being limited with a knee injury, the sophomore quarterback threw for 288 yards and three touchdowns. He also completed 73.1 percent of his passes, proving that he is more than a read-option quarterback who is only comfortable running the ball.

    As for the knee, Mariota told Andrew Greif of OregonLive.com that it was never an issue: “They would have to pull me off the field before I wouldn't play,” he said.

    Welcome back into the Heisman discussions, Mariota.

    Grade: A

Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

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    It was just another day at the office for Florida State signal-caller Jameis Winston. In a 59-3 win over Syracuse, the freshman quarterback only played the first half, but he completed 90 percent of his passes for 277 yards and two touchdowns.

    Imagine if he was able to play in the final two quarters.

    Winston has already picked up head coach Jimbo Fisher's mentality to keep his foot on his opponent's neck, per Corey Clark of USA Today.

    "That's one thing Coach Fisher always talks about – stay on them," he said. "We want to stay on them and when we're up big, just make it hurt."


    Combine Winston's talent with that line of thinking and you end up with a scary quarterback.

    Grade: B+