After going the first 77 years of its existence without ever being awarded to a freshman, the Heisman Trophy is likely headed to a freshman quarterback for the second consecutive year.
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is the clear front-runner for the 79th Heisman Trophy. There are, however, five other finalists with outstanding resumes also in the running to take home this coveted award, so nothing is a given.
This list includes the reigning Heisman winner, a running back that topped the 2,000-yard mark, a quarterback who set the record for rushing yards at his position, a running back who ran for over 300 yards in the championship game of the best conference in college football and the winningest quarterback in the storied history of the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Have a look at how I rank these six tremendous players in terms of the likelihood they will join the prestigious Heisman club when the winner is announced on Dec. 16.
|Key Stats for Heisman Finalists|
|Player||Passing Yards||Passing TDs||Rushing Yards||Rushing TDs|
No. 6: Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois
As soon as Northern Illinois fell 42-27 to Bowling Green to lose the MAC Championship Game and its shot at a BCS bowl, Jordan Lynch's Heisman shots were doomed.
He had no margin for error. No player from the MAC has ever won the Heisman.
Still Lynch's insane stats definitely have to be considered.
His 2,676 passing yards are fairly modest for a Heisman discussion, but consider that that is the exact same amount as AJ McCarron and it came in addition to Lynch rushing for an FBS quarterback record of 1,881 yards to go with it, and we start to get an idea of his overall production.
His 45 combined touchdowns are also eye-catching.
No. 5: Andre Williams
With Boston College going just 7-5 this season, running back Andre Williams is a long shot. He simply hasn't had a big enough spotlight. He did have the numbers, though.
Williams became the first FBS player to rush for over 2,000 yards since 2008. He wound up with 2,102 and he got stronger as the season went on.
He was forced from action early in Boston College's final game with Syracuse due to an apparent injury, but in the five games prior to that, he had rushed for an average of 247 yards per game and nine total touchdowns.
After carrying the ball 329 times this season, this workhorse accounted for 51 percent of his team's offense.
No. 4: AJ McCarron
McCarron's stats aren't going to overwhelm people. He has hit 67 percent of his passes for 2,676 yards and 26 touchdowns against just five interceptions.
That doesn't tell the whole story, however, since McCarron has not been playing in a system that will produce mind-boggling numbers. Well, unless we are talking about wins.
McCarron has lost just three times as Alabama's starting quarterback, and he already has two national titles to his credit.
For all his winning, however, it will be a loss from a walk-off field-goal return that dooms his chances at this trophy.
No. 3: Johnny Manziel
Johnny Manziel had another spectacular season, as he followed up his Heisman-winning campaign from a year ago.
His passing numbers actually improved. He passed for 255 more yards and nine more touchdowns than last season. His rushing numbers, however, are less than half of what they were last season.
Also, Texas A&M disappointed to an 8-4 season, and Manziel had by far his two worst games of the season in back-to-back losses for the Aggies at the close of the regular season.
Over his final two games, Manziel combined to hit 40 of 76 passes for 419 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions while rushing for only 75 yards combined.
No. 2: Tre Mason
Few Heisman bids have been built quicker than Tre Mason's.
Mason had a wonderful season as the lead back in the nation's No. 1 rushing attack. Still, prior to the SEC Championship game, I highly doubt Mason was in line to be one of the finalists.
Then he rushed for 304 yards and four touchdowns on 46 carries as he helped lead Auburn to victory over Missouri and to the BCS title game.
Let's not discredit Mason's entire season, either. His rushing yards pale in comparison to Williams', but his all-purpose yards are higher. In fact, Mason broke an Auburn record held by Bo Jackson by going for 2,137 all-purpose yards this season.
Combine that with his 23 total touchdowns and the fact that he is on the team playing for the national championship, and I believe we have the runner-up for this year's award.
He will be a distant second, however.
No. 1: Jameis Winston
Jameis Winston was nearly flawless this year. His worst quarterback rating for a game this season was 124.8, and that came in a 59-3 win over Wake Forest.
His season-long quarterback rating of 190.1 is just a shade under the FBS single-season record of 191.8 set by Russell Wilson.
Winston's passing numbers of 3,820 yards and 38 touchdowns are both freshman records—both could have been higher had Winston not been pulled early from several blowouts.
Winston doesn't have much to add with his ground totals, but he doesn't need to.
He's been the most impressive player on college football's most impressive team. That will win him this award in a landslide.
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