Each week, Advocate sportswriter Scott Rabalais, a Heisman Trophy voter since 1997, breaks down the top candidates for college football’s most prestigious award.
1. MARCUS MARIOTA, QB, OREGON
The nation’s most consistently prodigious player, Mariota had another big Saturday with 394 total yards and three touchdowns (327 passing, 67 rushing) against Washington State. For the season he’s 123 of 197 passing for 2,051 yards with 19 TDs and zero interceptions and has rushed for nine more scores. Yes, he did fumble twice, one of them returned for a scoop and score, but if Mariota keeps putting up these kinds of numbers, he’ll be on the top two of most ballots.
2. JAMEIS WINSTON, QB, FLORIDA STATE
There’s no denying the Famous Jameis Heisman hype now, not after he threw for 444 yards and three TDs and ran for another in Saturday’s 51-14 rout of Clemson. Almost as big as his highlights on the field was video of his pregame locker room leadership. Uncommon talent and maturity could put the Heisman Trophy in his hands.
3. JOHNNY MANZIEL, QB, TEXAS A&M
There’s a reason repeating as a Heisman winner has only been done once: It’s hard. Manziel has suffered knee and shoulder injuries the last two weeks and keeps going, but his team’s two losses are going to be an anchor on his Heisman hopes. His 2,775 total yards and 24 total TDs are impressive, though.
4. SEAN MANNION, QB, OREGON STATE
Mannion riddled California for 481 yards and four TDs Saturday, giving him an NCAA-best 2,992 yards and 29 TDs with just three INTs this season. He needs to go big against a top-flight opponent and gets his chance Saturday vs. Stanford.
5. AJ McCARRON, QB, ALABAMA
His numbers don’t wow you (1,587 yards passing, 14 TDs, 3 INTs) until you get to the line that says he’s 33-2 as a starter. All AJ does is win, win, win, and if he puts Bama in another BCS title game, he could win the Heisman as his team’s MVP.
ON THE RADAR (alphabetically)
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU
Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor