Heisman Watch 2013: Ranking Finalists' Chances of Taking Home Coveted Trophy

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Heisman Watch 2013: Ranking Finalists' Chances of Taking Home Coveted Trophy
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The 2013 Heisman Trophy winner will be announced during Saturday's ceremony in New York City's Best Buy Theater.

Among the six finalists, there is a surefire favorite to take home the hardware along with a couple of other viable contenders who should make the voting at least somewhat interesting.

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston has had an amazing freshman season and should join last year's winner and fellow finalist Texas A&M signal-caller Johnny Manziel as the only first-year phenom to take home the coveted award.

ESPN.com's Heisman watch has Winston as the unanimous No. 1 choice, with all 16 first-place votes from its panel of experts.

Below is a closer look at Winston, along with the two deserving to finish right behind him after amazing 2013 campaigns of their own.

Note: Past results and history are courtesy of Heisman.com.


3. Tre Mason, RB, Auburn

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As steady as Mason's production has been all season, it's a bit of a surprise that he hadn't garnered more Heisman acclaim ahead of the SEC Championship Game. After all, he had run for at least 100 yards in seven of his prior eight contests.

Instead of settling for the usual stellar benchmark, though, Mason went off for 304 yards and four touchdowns on 46 carries, driving the Tigers into the national championship game in the 59-42 win over Missouri.

That boosted Mason's touchdown total to 22 on the season, along with his Heisman candidacy.

Part of what should hold Mason back from receiving a ton of votes to truly threaten Winston for the award is that his own QB, Nick Marshall (1,023 yards rushing, 11 TDs), opens up so many lanes for Mason with his own blazing speed.

Boston College running back Andre Williams may also steal some votes from Mason at the position. Even on a team that had no passing game, Williams ran for 2,102 yards and 17 touchdowns.

It was probably too little, too late for Mason to make his big splash, but neither he nor the Tigers should be complaining, because it was key to getting their bid to battle for the Coaches' Trophy.


2. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama

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The reason McCarron trumps Mason is because quarterbacks inevitably attract more attention and shoulder more burden for their team's fate.

Excluding former USC star Reggie Bush's vacated award in 2005, only one running back has won the Heisman since 2000. All the other trophy bearers have been quarterbacks, and seven of the 13 runners-up have played the position, too.

That should allow McCarron to finish second this time around.

McCarron has compiled a sensational 36-3 record, and when the Crimson Tide lost to Auburn in the Iron Bowl, the oft-labeled "game manager" made plenty of plays, throwing for three touchdowns and 277 yards in a 34-28 loss.

In winning the Maxwell Award on Thursday as the "College Player of the Year," McCarron made history for the Tide, per ESPN Stats & Info:

Sure, Alabama has one of the best defenses in college football, and McCarron also had the benefit of a strong backfield led by super sophomore T.J. Yeldon.

But the senior signal-caller put together yet another fine season full of winning and impressive numbers to boot: 2,676 passing yards (8.75 yards per attempt), a 67.6 completion percentage and 25 touchdowns to only six interceptions.

Spectacular stuff, to be sure, yet it won't be enough to fend off the superior Winston.


1. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

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McCarron even admitted that Winston will likely win the Heisman after he beat him out for the Maxwell Award. However, he felt comfortable with what he'd done in Tuscaloosa, per ESPN.com's Joe Schad:

Fair enough, but what Winston has achieved in his first year under center with the Seminoles has him well-deserving of the college game's most prestigious individual award.

Winston has a loaded supporting cast surrounding him much like McCarron has enjoyed, but his numbers are superior and his season overall was just a bit more successful in guiding the No. 1 Seminoles to the national title game.

College GameDay's official Twitter account provided a snapshot of what Winston has accomplished from a statistical standpoint:

The other Heisman hopeful QBs stumbled down the stretch. Aside from McCarron, Manziel played poorly in his most recent two games, while Northern Illinois' Jordan Lynch lost in the MAC Championship.

Four losses are hard to overlook in Manziel's repeat bid, and Lynch simply played inferior competition in his conference.

All of that contributed to Winston winning the Davey O'Brien Award as the nation's best quarterback:

The Seminoles' slimmest margin of victory this year has been by 14 points, and Winston has a lot to do with that.

As a result, Saturday's ceremony will foster further coronation in the Big Apple. Winston will be crowned king in the Heisman race by a landslide proportional to Florida State's team dominance.

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