Jameis Winston Must Overcome History, Fellow Contenders to Win 2014 Heisman

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Jameis Winston Must Overcome History, Fellow Contenders to Win 2014 Heisman
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

History is working against Jameis Winston in his campaign to become just the second player in college football history to win consecutive Heisman awards—an achievement only former Buckeye Archie Griffin can claim, in 1974 and 1975. 

It is a feat that Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford and Johnny Manziel failed to accomplish in recent seasons. 

Winston will need to overcome the following challenges in 2014 to earn serious consideration among the Heisman voters. 

 

Schedule

Florida State's strength of schedule is tied for 47th out of 128, according to the NCAA's strength of schedule method, as the Seminoles face such competitors as Citadel, Wake Forest, Syracuse, Virginia and Boston College.

Some would argue that this helps Winston in his Heisman campaign, as a slew of light games would allow him to pad his stat sheet and emerge as a top contender.

However, strength of schedule is a factor that goes into determining a Heisman winner in addition to stats, and even if the Seminoles finish the season undefeated, voters may not be as impressed as if a player like Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall has a statistically impressive season despite the Tigers' 16th-hardest schedule. 

Florida State does play Oklahoma State and nationally ranked Notre Dame and Clemson this season, which makes the non-conference schedule tougher.

The games against Oklahoma State and Notre Dame replace 2013's matchups against Nevada and Idaho. Winning those games will help in Winston's Heisman campaign. 

Florida State's 2014 Schedule
Date Opponent National Ranking
Aug. 30 Oklahoma State Cowboys -
Sept. 6 The Citadel Bulldogs -
Sept. 20 Clemson Tigers 16
Sept. 27 at NC State Wolfpack -
Oct. 4 Wake Forest Demon Deacons -
Oct. 11 at Syracuse Orange -
Oct. 18 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 17
Oct. 30 at Louisville Cardinals -
Nov. 8 Virginia Cavaliers -
Nov. 15 at Miami Hurricanes -
Nov. 22 Boston College Eagles -
Nov. 29 Florida Gators -

USA Today Poll

 

Competitors

The field of fellow Heisman contenders is incredibly strong in 2014, which will make it that much harder for Winston to pull ahead in the voting. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, Georgia running back Todd Gurley, Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller and Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty could all potentially push Winston out of contention. 

Mariota increased his production in 2013 despite the departure of Chip Kelly, racking up 3,665 passing yards compared to 2,677 in 2012. He had 31 touchdowns.

Gurley amassed 989 yards and 10 touchdowns for the Bulldogs in 2013 despite only playing in 10 games. 

Miller is a multi-dimensional threat for the Buckeyes, and if he can stay healthy, his stats are sure to wow voters.

He's thrown for more than 2,000 yards and rushed for more than 1,000 in each of his last two seasons despite missing time to injury. Ohio State's strength of schedule is ranked 35th. 

 

His Past Production

Chuck Burton/Associated Press

Ironically, Winston's monster 2013 seasonthe best freshman season by a college quarterback on the books and one in which he set single-season NCAA freshman records for passing yards (4,057) and touchdowns (40)—could work against him in 2014 Heisman voting. 

Thirteen players returned to play another season after winning the Heisman Trophy, and 12 of them were unable to repeat.

As Sharon Katz of ESPN Stats & Info points out, "the issue for many of these players is that they were unable to replicate or improve their production and team success from their Heisman-winning seasons."

Katz noted that repeat Heisman winners lost 1.5 more games the year after winning the award.  

Winston will have an especially difficult time matching or exceeding his record-setting 2013 production without top targets Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw, whom the Seminoles lost to the NFL.

Rashad Greene will have to step up in a major way, and the 'Noles will need Isaiah Jones and Kermit Whitfield to contribute, as well. 

Currently ranked No. 1 in the USA Today Poll, if Florida State loses even one game, Winston could fall out of favor with Heisman voters. 

But if Winston can match his numbers from last season, and if Florida State finishes undefeated, he could have another record-setting year in terms of Heisman history. 

 

Strength of schedule rankings via FBSchedules.com.

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