Heisman Finalists 2013: Projected Final Order of Candidates on Saturday Night

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 14, 2013

Dec 8, 2012; New York, NY, USA; A detailed view of the Heisman Trophy during a press conference before the announcement of the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner at the Marriott Marquis in downtown New York City.  Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Although you can never truly know for sure the results of the Heisman Trophy voting, past results and common sense paint a pretty good picture of how things will unfold on Saturday night.

Florida State's Jameis Winston is the heavy favorite. He's been nearly flawless on the field, helping the Seminoles get in the national championship for the first time since the 2001 Orange Bowl.

Despite all the hype, the redshirt freshman has remained humble in the buildup to the ceremony. Per the Orlando Sentinel's Brendan Sonnone, Winston said:

Instead of just thinking individually, it means a lot to the team. Especially with this team, too. At Florida State, we haven’t had a Heisman in a long time. And better than that, we haven’t had a championship in a long time.

Regarding FSU's previous two Heisman winners (Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke), he added:

They have done some outstanding things, especially Chris Weinke with his baseball career and coming back and winning the Heisman, and Charlie winning the Heisman and not playing pro football. Those guys are some unique creatures, and I’m just blessed to be following in their footsteps.

While some are looking at the ceremony as Winston's coronation, he's not the only player making the trip to New York. Six finalists in all will be vying for the Heisman, per College GameDay.

GameDay came up quick a brief defense of each candidate.

Of course, there can only be one winner. Looking ahead to Saturday night, here's how the results could shake out.


1. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

Does this need any explanation? The question isn't whether Winston will win, but rather by how much he'll win. Maybe he can make history for the biggest margin of victory.

The redshirt freshman has consistently been a top candidate, and with Florida State's unbeaten record, the Seminoles haven't had that crippling loss that damages his campaign (see McCarron, AJ).

The road was made easier after Winston won the Davey O'Brien and Walter Camp awards.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Florida State's two other Walter Camp winners went on to win the Heisman.


2. AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama

Nov 30, 2013; Auburn, AL, USA;  Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron (10) throws th ball as he is pressed by Auburn Tigers defensive end Elijah Daniel (97)   at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports
RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

AJ McCarron's chances to win the Heisman died when Alabama lost the Iron Bowl. So much of his campaign hinged on the Crimson Tide going to the national championship. Without that, his numbers don't match up to Winston's (2,676 yds., 26 TDs vs. 3,820 yds., 38 TDs).

Despite that 99-yard throw to Amari Cooper, most everybody remembers the "Kick Six" instead, so McCarron doesn't even have a "Heisman Moment."

If Alabama's only loss of the season came earlier in the year, perhaps he could've crept back into pole position.

The fact that McCarron won the Maxwell Award makes you believe that he's got enough votes to finish in at least second place.

But don't be surprised if Tre Mason finishes here instead.


3. Tre Mason, RB, Auburn

Dec 7, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Auburn Tigers running back Tre Mason (21) runs with his MVP trophy after the 2013 SEC Championship game against the Missouri Tigers at Georgia Dome. The Auburn Tigers defeated the Missouri Tigers 59-42. Mandatory Credit: Kev
Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

Between the Iron Bowl and SEC Championship, Mason's stock is rising faster than any other candidate. Before the season, nobody would've even had the junior running back on Heisman watch lists, and now he's a major contender.

The problem for Mason is that it's nearly impossible for running backs to win the Heisman Trophy today. For it to happen, you pretty much have to be Reggie Bush, reeling off electrifying run after electrifying run and maybe returning punts and kicks.

Mason's running style isn't conducive to winning the Heisman Trophy, at least without the benefit of an entire season with which to build hype.


4. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

Nov 30, 2013; Columbia, MO, USA; Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) scrambles to the outside against the Missouri Tigers during the first half at Faurot Field. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

You have to wonder how much Heisman consideration Johnny Manziel would've gotten had his offseason not been full of incident after incident. As if voter fatigue wasn't enough, all that bad press meant that Manziel going back to back was out of the picture.

Texas A&M's 8-4 record and the Aggies losing their last two games of the regular season only confirmed that Johnny Football would be on the outside looking in.


5. Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois

Dec 6, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Northern Illinois Huskies quarterback Jordan Lynch (6) on the sidelines during the second quarter against the Bowling Green Falcons at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

You can't knock Northern Illinois for a lack of trying. The Huskies handed out "Lynch-boxes" to voters to strengthen Jordan Lynch's Heisman campaign, per Athlon Sports.

There's simply way too much working against Lynch.

He plays in the MAC, which almost automatically eliminates him from Heisman contention. In addition, Northern Illinois lost the conference championship, with the senior QB throwing two interceptions.

Lynch will get some votes based off of reputation and his performance last year but nowhere near enough to get him close to the top.


6. Andre Williams, RB, Boston College

Nov 23, 2013; College Park, MD, USA; Boston College Eagles running back Andre Williams (44) runs with the ball for a touchdown during the second half od the game against the Maryland Terrapins at Byrd Stadium. Boston College Eagles defeated Maryland Terra
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

A lot of what was said about Mason applies to Andre Williams, except he's even more behind the 8-ball. Playing for a 7-5 Boston College team won't impress too many voters.

It's a shame, because any time you can run for 2,102 yards, you deserve a ton of credit.

What would be funny is if voters argue that Williams hasn't had a tough enough schedule, while simultaneously putting a player from the same conference in first place.


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