Bleacher Report's Top Heisman Trophy Performer for Week 13

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Bleacher Report's Top Heisman Trophy Performer for Week 13
Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Sure, it was "just Idaho," but Jameis Winston was by the far the best Heisman-candidate quarterback in Week 13, leading his Seminoles to yet another easy win, this time by the score of 80-14.

Winston finished 14-of-25 passing for 225 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions, leaving the game when FSU took a 49-7 lead after its first possession of the third quarter.

This was the third consecutive game in which the Seminoles have scored 55-plus points, the first time that has happened in school history, according to ESPN Stats & Info. This team is functioning at an impossibly high level, and Winston is the engine that makes it run.

The Heisman might not be the only trophy in his immediate future.

Winston's numbers, while still very good, are slightly deflated because Florida State has been too dominant for most of this season. Because he is pulled so frequently when his team takes a giant lead, his statistical totals are lower than they might otherwise be.

But head coach Jimbo Fisher doesn't believe that should matter. With respect to the Heisman Trophy, he believes Winston's level of play will be vindicated beyond the stat sheet.

"To me, stats aren't the key for awards," said Fisher after the game, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN). "It's how well you play, how you dominate your opponent and what you do. ...People who look at numbers don't really know the player."

Still, even with having sat out so much of the season, Winston's numbers are good enough as a baseline to warrant being the Heisman front-runner. Here are just a few of the stats that jump off the page:

Jameis Winston Stats of Note, 2013
Stat Value National Rank
QB Rating 194.50 1
ESPN Total QBR 92.6 1
Yards/Attempt 11.1 2
Passing TDs 32 T-3
Completion % 69.6 5
Team Losses 0 T-1

Source: ESPN/cfbstats.com

It's worth noting that Winston's 32 passing touchdowns—the only stat on the table that isn't adjusted per-play—come in spite of only having thrown 286 passes. No other player in the Top 11 has thrown fewer than 325, while the Nos. 1 and 2 quarterbacks (Sean Mannion and Derek Carr) have each totaled 500-plus attempts.

Winston has been a much more efficient scoring machine.

Further bolstering Winston's Heisman case was what happened outside of Tallahassee on Saturday. His three strongest ostensible competitors—Baylor's Bryce Petty, Oregon's Marcus Mariota and Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel—all played pedestrian football, and each of their teams suffered humbling defeats.

Just take a look at their stat lines from Week 13:

Top Heisman Candidates in Week 13
Name Result CMP-ATT YDS TD/INT Rating QBR
Bryce Petty L 49-17 28-48 359 2/0 134.90 89.3
Marcus Mariota L 42-16 27-41 308 2/2 135.29 65.4
Johnny Manziel L 34-10 16-41 224 1/2 83.20 30.4
Jameis Winston W 80-14 14-25 225 4/0 184.40 81.1

Source: ESPN/cfbstats.com

Don't be fooled by the decent-looking final numbers of Petty and Mariota; both QBs played far below their means before racking up big totals in garbage time. In the first three quarters of each game, the duo combined to put up 12 whole points!

Seemingly the only thing working against Winston, at this point, is the pending sexual-assault investigation surrounding him. According to the Associated Pressstate attorney Willie Meggs said he likely won't decide whether or not to charge Winston until after Thanksgiving.

The legal case is a serious one, with allegations from an unidentified woman that Winston had non-consensual sex with her in 2012. If he's charged and eventually found guilty, the story would immediately (and probably already has) become much bigger than football.

According to David Hale of ESPN.com, the allegation was all anyone could talk about in Tallahassee, especially on an afternoon when woeful Idaho was the opponent:

Before the game, fans debated the next step in this legal drama as they guzzled beers and grilled burgers. When Winston took the field for Florida State's first offensive series, he earned a massive ovation from the crowd, though Fisher chalked it up as a routine greeting for the Heisman candidate.

After it was over, only a small contingent of Florida State's roster was available to media—a measure instituted by the school to avoid any quotes that might be misconstrued by a horde of reporters parsing every last word.

And, as has been the case before each of Winston's public comments since the news of the investigation first broke, FSU staff offered a concise reminder that he would talk only about football, even if the football was a complete afterthought in the wake of yet another blowout win.

In discussing Winston's Heisman candidacy (and Florida State's national title hopes), one would be remiss not to mention the investigation. It has the potential to rock the college football world, and that would just be the beginning.

But for now, at least until Meggs decides whether or not to pursue the case, Winston must be granted the same right as every other American citizen: He is innocent until proven guilty. Even with a storm cloud overhead, we have no choice but to focus on the light.

After yet another great performance on Saturday, Winston is by far the front-runner to win the Heisman Trophy, with dark horses like Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron and Boston College tailback Andre Williams now slowly taking shape.

Despite the legal drama surrounding him, this is still Winston's award to lose. 

 

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