Although the finalist for the Heisman Trophy have not yet been announced, there should not be much debate as to who gets an invitation to New York City.
This year's race was one of the strangest we have seen in years. Every time it seemed like someone would be in position to win, they put up a poor showing in the next game.
However, the final few weeks of the season did a good job of clarifying which players should make the list. While these finalists look much different than what fans would have expected coming into the year, these are the most deserving candidates for the most prestigious individual award in the sport.
Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois
If Northern Illinois went undefeated with a secured bid to a BCS bowl, there is little question that Jordan Lynch would at least be a Heisman finalist. The quarterback set a record for the most rushing yards for a quarterback in FBS history, finishing with 1,881 yards.
He also contributed through the air with 2,676 passing yards and 23 touchdowns. While some would say he built these stats up against weaker opponents, the truth is that his own team is not that good, and he almost single-handedly brought the program to its second BCS game in a row.
Unfortunately, a loss to Bowling Green doomed the team, and possibly Lynch's Heisman chances. However, Lynch has still put together an amazing season and was clearly one of the best individual players in the country.
Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
People seemed to forget about Bryce Petty after Baylor's loss to Oklahoma State, even though he finished the year as one of the best passers in the country. He finished second to Jameis Winston in efficiency rating thanks to an incredible 30-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Petty led the nation's No. 1 offense, which averaged 53.3 points per game, and he helped bring the Bears to their first Big 12 title.
Additionally, it is important to note that the quarterback was impressive even in the team's one loss, totaling 359 passing yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a season-high 46 rushing yards.
While it makes sense to penalize players like Marcus Mariota or Johnny Manziel, who hurt their teams with poor performances, Petty has been solid all season and should earn a spot among the Heisman finalists.
Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
Heisman voters want their candidate to finish the year strong, and no one did that better than Tre Mason.
The Auburn running back is a huge reason the Tigers will be playing for a national championship after coming up huge in the final two games of the year.
He rushed for 164 yards and a touchdown against the usually stout Alabama defense, and he followed that up with an insane 304 rushing yards and four touchdowns against Missouri in the SEC Championship Game. This is difficult to do in a video game on the easy setting.
Mason finished the year with 22 touchdowns, which tied for third in the nation, to go with a 1,621 rushing yards. Against SEC opponents, he averaged 143.2 rushing yards in nine games.
Although he was not on many people's ballots until the final week, he is well deserving of this honor.
Andre Williams, RB, Boston College
Although Boston College will not be going to a BCS bowl, the only reason the team has a winning record is because of Andre Williams.
The senior running back led college football with 2,102 rushing yards, which puts him among the 10 best rushing performances of all time. He was also the first to top 2,000-yard mark since 2008.
Williams topped 200 yards five different times this season, including his 339-yard game against North Carolina State.
Few college football fans ever got the chance to watch the running back play, but he truly had an impressive season worthy of a Heisman bid.
Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
No matter who is considered a finalist for this award, there is little question over who should win it.
Winston led the nation in quarterback efficiency by a significant margin, and he finished in the top 10 in passing yards, touchdowns and yards per attempt. He also broke a few freshman records in the process:
Jameis Winston: set FBS freshman records for Pass TD (38) & Pass yds (3,820) last night— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 8, 2013
After Manziel ended the stigma involved in voting for a freshman last season, there should be nothing holding back the voters this time around.
While he clearly has a lot of talent around him, the quarterback was the driving force for the only undefeated team in the country. This is more than enough to secure the bronze statue in an otherwise weak year of candidates.
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