Heisman Watch 2013: Previewing the Finalists' Bowl Matchups

Sebastian Lena@SP7988Analyst IDecember 11, 2013

Heisman Watch 2013: Previewing the Finalists' Bowl Matchups

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    How will Mason handle the pressure of the BCS title game?
    How will Mason handle the pressure of the BCS title game?Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

    With the six Heisman Trophy finalists revealed, all eyes will turn to see how they perform during college football’s bowl season.

    For some, it will merely be to see if these players are truly worthy of the recognition. For others, it’s a chance to catch some of the game’s best players in action.

    All in all, each finalist is in for one heck of a bowl game.

    Join B/R as we breakdown the matchups for all six players and make a prediction as to how each will perform.

     

    Author’s Note: The five players chosen are in accordance to ESPN’s Heisman Watch. The points listed under the Expert's Poll for each player are listed here as “Poll Points." The number of first-place votes is listed in parentheses.

6. QB Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M)

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    Manziel will look to rebound during the bowl game.
    Manziel will look to rebound during the bowl game.Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Poll Points: 8

    Season Stats: 69.1 CMP%, 3,732 YDS, 33 TD, 13 INT, 170.4 RAT; 133 CAR, 686 YDS, 8 TD

    Bowl Matchup: No. 24 Duke (10-3) vs. No. 21 Texas A&M (8-4), Dec. 31, 8 p.m. ET on ESPN (Chick-fil-A Bowl)

     

    The Skinny

    After a fantastic start to 2013, quarterback Johnny Manziel closed out the season with a pair of forgettable performances.

    In two road games—against then-No. 22 LSU and then-No. 5 Missouri—the sophomore looked lost, throwing for a combined 419 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions on 52.7 percent passing while being held to just 75 yards on 23 carries.

    They were two performances that all but took Manziel out of the running for the award.

    Still, there’s no denying he’s had one heck of a year.

    In the Aggies’ bowl game, Manziel shouldn’t have too much trouble navigating past the Blue Devils secondary. The unit ranks No. 70 against the pass (233.2 YPG) and has conceded 21 passing touchdowns on the year.

    Last weekend, Heisman frontrunner Jameis Winston torched Duke for 330 yards and three touchdowns in leading Florida State to the ACC title, 45-7.

    Shouldn’t be too much harder for Manziel.

     

    Prediction

    Manziel closes out the season—and possibly his college football career—on a bright note.

    The Blue Devils should have fits trying to contain him. If the team somehow manages to stop the pass, expect Manziel to tear apart Duke on the ground—the team ranks No. 75 against the run.

    It may not be the conclusion that Manziel and Texas A&M were looking for, but you can’t argue against another bowl victory.

     

    Stock Movement: Rise

5. QB Jordan Lynch (Northern Illinois)

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    Lynch has a tough bowl matchup against the Aggies.
    Lynch has a tough bowl matchup against the Aggies.Brian Kersey/Getty Images

    Poll Points: 8

    Season Stats: 63.1 CMP%, 2,676 YDS, 23 TD, 7 INT, 140.8 RAT; 274 CAR, 1,881 YDS, 22 TD

    Bowl Matchup: Utah State (8-4) vs. Northern Illinois (12-1), Dec. 26, 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN (San Diego Credit Union Poinsetta Bowl)

     

    The Skinny

    This wasn’t exactly the finish quarterback Jordan Lynch was hoping for.

    After guiding the Huskies to a 12-0 record, only a MAC title date with Bowling Green stood in the way of a second consecutive berth into a BCS bowl.

    Unfortunately, Northern Illinois couldn’t get the job done. For his part, Lynch didn’t do much to help.

    Although the senior did well on the ground—26 carries for 126 yards and two scores—he struggled through the air, throwing a touchdown and two costly interceptions on 21-of-40 passing. Both of his rushing touchdowns came when the game was already out of hand.

    Against the Aggies, it could be much of the same.

    Through 12 games, the team ranks No. 55 against the pass (224.8 YPG) and No. 10 against the run (107.4 YPG). Furthermore, Utah State has allowed just eight rushing touchdowns on 2.8 yards per carry and only 16 passing touchdowns all year.

    It could be another tough outing for Lynch.

     

    Prediction

    Lynch will struggle again.

    Over the last two games, it seems opponents have finally figured out how to contain Lynch through the air. If the Aggies can do that, it will force him to attack the team’s strength: run defense.

    In the end, Lynch should do enough to carry the Huskies to victory. 

    But don’t expect any monster numbers in this one.

     

    Stock Movement: Same

4. QB AJ McCarron (Alabama)

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    McCarron is looking to wrap up his career 3-0 in BCS bowl games.
    McCarron is looking to wrap up his career 3-0 in BCS bowl games.John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

    Poll Points: 16

    Season Stats: 67.6 CMP%, 2,676 YDS, 26 TD, 5 INT, 165.9 RAT

    Bowl Matchup: No. 11 Oklahoma (10-2) vs. No. 3 Alabama (11-1), Jan. 2, 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN (Allstate Sugar Bowl)

     

    The Skinny

    As expected, quarterback AJ McCarron will be leading the Crimson Tide in a January bowl game. It’s just not the one he and the team had hoped for.

    That’s because despite a solid performance from the senior, Alabama fell to Auburn, 34-28, in the season finale.

    McCarron threw for 277 yards and three touchdowns on 17-of-29 passing. That includes a phenomenal 99-yard touchdown pass in the second half that had all the makings of a Heisman moment.

    But he and the Tide just couldn’t get it done in crunch time.

    Now, McCarron will have to settle for taking on the Sooners in the Sugar Bowl.

    Thus far, the team ranks No. 15 against the pass (198.0 YPG). Oklahoma has allowed just 15 passing touchdowns while limiting opposing quarterbacks to a passer rating of 112.7.

    Given his struggles with accuracy in his last two games against FBS opponents—57.3 percent passing—McCarron might have his hands full in this one.

     

    Prediction

    McCarron will play relatively well.

    This should be a game where Alabama should be able to enforce their will on the ground. It could be very likely that McCarron doesn’t see more than 20 passing attempts.

    It might not bode well for his statistics, but it should be enough to help the Tide roll to victory.

     

    Stock Movement: Same

3. RB Tre Mason (Auburn)

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    Mason had a career day in the Tigers' biggest game of the season.
    Mason had a career day in the Tigers' biggest game of the season.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Poll Points: 32

    Season Stats: 283 CAR, 1,621 YDS, 22 TD; 11 REC, 121 YDS

    Bowl Matchup: No. 1 Florida State (13-0) vs. No. 2 Auburn (12-1), Jan. 6, 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN (Vizio BCS National Championship)

     

    The Skinny

    Running back Tre Mason has gotten hot at the right time.

    That became especially evident by his performance against Missouri in the SEC title game last weekend.

    The junior rushed for a career-high 304 yards and four touchdowns on 46 carries. That follows up a 164-yard performance against Alabama’s vaunted run defense the week before that and marks the seventh time in the last eight games that he’s topped the century mark.

    Mason will have yet another challenge against a stifling Seminoles run defense in the BCS title game.

    Through 13 games, the unit ranks No. 14 against the run (116.6 YPG). Florida State has conceded a nation-low five rushing touchdowns while conceding a meager 3.14 yards per carry.

    However, as the Tigers have proved all season long, there’s not a defense out there that can slow their No. 1-ranked rushing attack.

     

    Prediction

    Mason should play well but not spectacular.

    With the mix of running plays Auburn utilizes, the Seminoles defense will be kept on its toes. That should result in a lot of yardage for Mason or whoever is handling the ball.

    But while yards may come easy, finding the end zone will be a lot tougher.

     

    Stock Movement: Same

2. RB Andre Williams (Boston College)

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    Williams has been trouble for every opponent the team has faced.
    Williams has been trouble for every opponent the team has faced.Darren McCollester/Getty Images

    Poll Points: 40

    Season Stats: 329 CAR, 2,102 YDS, 17 TD

    Bowl Matchup: Arizona (7-5) vs. Boston College (7-5), Dec. 31, 12:30 p.m. ET on ESPN (AdvoCare V100 Bowl)

     

    The Skinny

    The Eagles wouldn’t be where they are if it wasn’t for the play of running back Andre Williams.

    Following a 3-4 start, the senior turned it up, leading the team to four straight wins. He rushed for a whopping 265.8 yards per came and totaled eight touchdowns during that span.

    Unfortunately, a shoulder injury in Boston College’s season finale caused Williams to leave early after finding the end zone in the first quarter.

    Don’t expect him to slow down against the Wildcats defense on New Year's Eve.

    Thus far, the unit ranks No. 71 against the run (169.8 YPG). Arizona has given up 16 touchdowns and concedes a generous 4.19 yards per carry.

    It should be just another day in the office for Williams.

     

    Prediction

    Williams puts up big numbers again.

    If he’s healthy, he’s going to dominate. It’s just simple as that.

    Aside from USC and Clemson, no defense has been able to slow him down.

    Unfortunately for the Wildcats, they don’t have the type of playmakers that those other two teams have.

     

    Stock Movement: Rise

1. QB Jameis Winston (Florida State)

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    Winston has had a lot to smile about in 2013.
    Winston has had a lot to smile about in 2013.Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Poll Points: 80 (16)

    Season Stats: 67.9 CMP%, 3,820 YDS, 38 TD, 10 INT, 190.1 RAT; 77 CAR, 193 YDS, 4 TD

    Bowl Matchup: No. 1 Florida State (13-0) vs. No. 2 Auburn (12-1), Jan. 6, 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN (Vizio BCS National Championship)

     

    The Skinny

    Has anyone been more consistent than quarterback Jameis Winston?

    From Week 1 to last week’s ACC title matchup, the redshirt freshman has conquered every obstacle in his path. Furthermore, he’s done so with flying colors.

    Against Duke last Saturday, Winston threw for 330 yards and three touchdowns while adding another 59 yards and a score on 10 carries. It followed up yet another sensational effort against Florida and its tough secondary the week before (19-of-31, 327 YDS, 3 TD, 1 INT).

    Now, Winston will take on the Tigers in the BCS title game.

    Through 13 games, the team ranks No. 102 against the pass (259.3 YPG). Auburn has given up 17 passing touchdowns and allows a little more than seven yards per attempt.

    It would be surprising if Winston didn’t have his way in this one.

     

    Prediction

    Winston gets the job done.

    Throughout the season, the Bessemer, Ala. native has faced some tough secondaries. However, he has had success each and every time.

    Against a Tigers secondary that has been vulnerable to the pass, don’t expect Winston to struggle.

     

    Stock Movement: Rise

     

    All stats and rankings used in this article are courtesy of NCAA.com.

    For complete coverage and everything college football, you can reach Sebastian on Facebook, on Twitter and via email at Sebastian.LenaBR@gmail.com.