Johnny Manziel's Updated Heisman Outlook After Loss to LSU

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Johnny Manziel's Updated Heisman Outlook After Loss to LSU
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And then there were three.

Heading into Week 13 of the college football season, any one of five players could have won the 2013 Heisman Trophy: Jameis Winston, Johnny Manziel, AJ McCarron, Bryce Petty and Marcus Mariota. While Winston came into Saturday as the overwhelming favorite according to most sportsbooks, any number of scenarios could have played out with the other four winning it.

Now? Only Winston, McCarron and Petty remain as plausible options.

And Petty's status, of course, depends on how Baylor fares later Saturday night in Stillwater. If the Bears lose, get out the red sharpie and draw a line through him as well.

Mariota and Manziel, who both at times were prohibitive favorites for the award, are dead in the water. One of them, likely Manziel, will probably get an invite to New York City for the free dinners, fake-smile photo ops and half-hearted applause for his contemporaries.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

But that's it. Both Mariota and Manziel's Heisman campaigns came crashing down in similar fates on Saturday. Mariota's died with a 42-16 loss to Arizona on Saturday, during which he left with a head injury that's yet to be diagnosed. Because Oregon's national championship hopes had already been dashed, it seemed unlikely that Mariota would win the award regardless.

Manziel? He went from second place to out of the race in one fell swoop.

Like Mariota, Manziel's campaign for a bronze statue ended in a surprising blowout loss. LSU waxed Texas A&M 34-10 on a Baton Rouge afternoon made for smashmouth football. With the rains coming down from the Louisiana skies, causing grip problems throughout the contest, Manziel had unquestionably his worst performance of the season.

The defending Heisman winner finished with 16-of-41 passing for 224 yards and a touchdown against two interceptions. What's worse is a majority of those yards came after LSU had opened up a multi-touchdown lead and the Aggies all but abandoned the run. Ben Malena and Trey Williams combined for 21 yards on only six carries.

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Manziel, meanwhile, would up with a solid rushing game with 54 yards, but it proved hollow. At times it felt like Johnny Football was out there on an island—just he and Mike Evans trying to find refuge against a more talented team. 

LSU's defense swallowed Manziel and the Aggies up to the point his detractors have to be feeling a level of schadenfreude. Manziel struggled with the athleticism of the Tigers defense, making inaccurate throws when his receivers were open and numerous poor decisions with the football. It certainly wasn't the type of outing that will convince those skeptical about his ability to handle an NFL-level pass rush.

In two matchups against Manziel, Les Miles has now forced the Aggies quarterback into five interceptions against one touchdown. It almost makes you wonder what Miles knows that Nick Saban doesn't, considering how much Alabama has failed to contain Manziel these past couple matchups.

Either way, LSU's defensive genius should be enough to drive a stake right through the heart of Manziel's Heisman hopes.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

Although the Aggies had lost twice previously, the narrative in Mr. Football's favor was that he was never truly at fault. His offense put up a combined 83 points in the two losses, which came against teams with a combined one loss all year. The narrative was that it was impossible to dock Manziel points for his defense's complete incompetence.

That was somewhat the case on Saturday, with LSU controlling the clock for more than 40 minutes and A&M allowing more than 300 rushing yards.

Only this time around, Manziel wasn't good enough to even make it close.

Dealing with a hand injury that seemed to bother him throughout the contest, he completed a career-low 39 percent of his throws. It was the first time all season that Manziel didn't complete at least two-thirds of his attempts—which not only shows how brilliant he's been this season but also shows just what a downturn in performance this was.

Going back to last season, it's his lowest completion percentage since his 51.6 percent outing against—you guessed it—LSU.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

There are any number of other stats one could point out. This is the first time Manziel has been held without at least two total touchdowns all year. Texas A&M's 10 points are the fewest a Kevin Sumlin-coached team has ever scored. And on. And on. And on.

Just two implications matter here: The Aggies have zero shot at a BCS bowl, and Manziel has zero shot at a Heisman repeat.

It'll now be up to the season's final week to decide whether Manziel even gets an invite. The Aggies close on the road against an excellent Missouri team that in many ways mirrors Texas A&M's rise from 2012. Should they lose and finish the regular season 8-4, it's hard to see the Heisman committee extending an invite to someone with no chance at winning. 

Winston, Petty and McCarron are more than enough to fill one touching hour of ratings-bait stalling.

Either way, walking out of Week 13, the Heisman crystal ball is clear. And it doesn't include Johnny Manziel.

 

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