Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Heisman Watch Week 12

I was let down this week, when I saw Marcus Mariota lay an egg for three quarters against Stanford. Of course, this makes my job easier as it clears out the top of my list a little, but I'm unwilling to banish the Hawaiian completely from the top 5, something of an overreaction. Anyways, call it unfair, but a loss for a quarterback is like a weight tied to his feet. It would be really tough for Mariota to shake it off and rise back to the top. Does he still have the best stats in college football? By a shade. But he has one important statistic that others may not: a 1 in the loss column. And so, I declare this

1) Jameis Winston's race to lose. He was previously second in my list, but now he has two huge victories this season (then 3 Clemson and then 7 Miami) he can point to, and in both of those games he stepped up big time. He has played his best football against his best opponents this season. That matters a lot in an MVP race, but more importantly his team won big, which is more than Marcus Mariota can say. Famous Jameis is simply looking like the best player in college football. While I could take some heat because everyone is saying this, Winston now controls his own destiny. If he wins out, even only semi-convincingly, he will most certainly find himself in New York, on a stage, stumbling through a speech written by a PR agent for the Seminoles. I tip my hat to the freshman, who is having a run for the ages. Although he is coming off a terrible day against Wake Forest (160 yards passing and a bad interception in a blow out victory) the only thing close to Winston in this race is his shadow, and even that he's beating by several lengths. I mean he is now 1-5 odds to win the race. For those who are confused, or simply less versed in the ways of the track, that means you'll make 1 dollar for every 5 you bet on him to win. In complete layman terms: he's such a lock that they won't give you much of a reward at all for picking him. Those are ridiculous odds. He is opening up a lead that we haven't in a long time for the Heisman: a true no doubter, like the Pats in the playoffs or Koji Uehara in the ninth. Get used to seeing his name up here.

Chances are, that ball's a completion
2) Bryce Petty is second now just because I wanted him to have a big day against a good defense, it looked like he wasn't going to, but then he pulled it out. And by pulling it out, I mean a 41-12 curb-stomping of the Sooners. Oklahoma fields a pretty darn good football team, but Petty left no doubt about the superiority of his squad. He has now passed for close to 2,700 yards in 8 games, and is at the head of a beautiful offense. It is truly a pleasure to watch the Bears march down the field. For over a quarter, they had me scared with their ineffectiveness last Thursday, but when they found their rhythm… oh boy. Petty passed for 3 touchdowns and ran for 2, and he is looking like, dare I say it, a fairly NFL ready quarterback. He just showed up in a major way, and looks to continue the magic against OSU this weekend. His odds went from 28-1 to 8-1, so he remains a long shot. Interestingly, Vegas prefers Johnny Football (at a 3-1 pick). Obviously I disagree.

3) AJ McCarron is a little overrated, to be honest, but that's just making up for 2 years of neglect, so I suppose it's fair. I have to hand it to him, he proved his quality against a good LSU team in a terrific game. If you missed it, it was tied in Tuscaloosa midway through the third when the Tide decided to win the game. They proceeded to score 21 unanswered points en route to a comfortable 38-17 victory. The latest great installment in this rivalry was not only enormously entertaining, but demonstrative of McCarron's (and his team's) ability to take over a game, even against a great opponent. This wasn't a perfect game for 'Bama, but McCarron's 3 touchdown passes proved to be the difference maker and they ended up winning big. LSU looked ready to make a statement against Alabama, but the Tide responded by playing their best half of college football this season, in the words of Nick Saban. McCarron was obviously a major factor in this, and I have to agree. As for LSU, fumbling on your first 2 processions is not how you beat a great team.

4) Johnny Manziel has now passed for 3,313 yards this season. That is flatly ridiculous, and beats other (present and former) frontrunners Mariota and Winston by several hundred yards. How then, is he not at the top of this prestigious list? Two losses (due to a now completely pathetic, floating belly-up defense) in big games this season are keeping Johnny from the trophy. Two losses to Alabama and Auburn in which he scored a combined 83 points, but two losses all the same. That, plus the general sense of somewhat sloppy play at times (11 picks) will keep Johnny Football from repeating the feat this year. To the Dallas columnists crying out that he should be the lock this year, I point out those two facts.

5) Marcus Mariota will not win the Heisman this year. He has yet to throw a pick, (for a nice 22:0 touchdown to interception ratio) a fact I have always found remarkable and repeated often, but all of a sudden he has fumbled the ball 8 times. A couple of those (including one in the red zone) proved ultimately costly against Stanford last week in a 6 point in-conference loss. Ah well, I guess Alabama Oregon wasn't the game we all wanted to see after all. Unfortunately for Mariota, a late loss in a thinning Heisman crowd will lose you the race. Manziel is above him, because his losses occurred earlier in the season. Call it what you like (unfair, perhaps?), that's college football. Oregon's offense lost that sense of otherworldliness this week, that sheen of perfection which seemed to drive them forward no matter what the opponent. They were stopped just enough times against Stanford, simply put. As the offense goes, so go Mariota's Heisman hopes. Still a great football team, still a great player, but only up here because no one else really fills the 5 hole.

And there you have my top 5 for Heisman week 12, although really only the top 1 is relevant.
Just as an interesting side note, this has been bouncing around the college football universe this week.
Player of the week:
UCLA Bruin Myles Jack: six carries for 120 yards and a touchdown, 8 tackles, a tackle for a loss, a fumble recovery and 2 passes broken up.
That's right. He played linebacker and running back last week against Arizona. My initial reaction was very "You've got to be kidding…" But there it is on the stat sheet. Good Lord. This freshman is probably destined for something special. He is won the Pac 12 offensive player of the week award… despite being a linebacker.

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