Each week, Advocate sportswriter Scott Rabalais, a Heisman Trophy voter since 1997, will break down the top candidates for college football’s most prestigious award.
1. MARCUS MARIOTA, QB, OREGON
The Quack Attack has Mariota back back on top. He accounted for 398 yards and seven touchdowns last week at Colorado (five passing, two rushing), giving him 21 TDs for the season (14 passing, seven rushing). Granted, the Buffaloes don’t put up much of a fight, but Oregon has been playing name-the-score all season, more than proving there is life after Chip Kelly. The Ducks have Mariota to thank for that.
2. JOHNNY MANZIEL, QB, TEXAS A&M
Johnny Football has dodged off-the-field allegations and is still in the hunt to become just the second repeat Heisman winner ever — but even Manziel can’t overcome the tyranny of the open date. Out of sight means out of mind, and for a Heisman candidate that’s bad. Manziel (14 TDs and 1,489 yards passing, 3 TDs rushing) has a chance to build on his numbers again this week at Ole Miss.
3. TAJH BOYD, QB, CLEMSON
The Tigers quarterback had one of his best games of the season last Saturday, throwing for 455 yards and five TDs (with his first two INTs of 2013) in a 49-14 victory at Syracuse. The performance pushes Boyd back up in Mariota and Manziel territory, giving him 1,449 yards and 14 TDs passing for 2013.
4. TEDDY BRIDGEWATER, QB, LOUISVILLE
Bridgewater had another excellent but relatively quiet game in a 30-7 win at Temple, completing 25 of 35 for 348 yards and two TDs. He now has 1,562 yards and 16 TDs for the season with one INT in his season opener, but the Cardinals’ schedule continues to be an anchor.
5. DEREK CARR, QB, FRESNO STATE
Carr may be the biggest dark horse on our list, but his numbers (183 of 259, 1,864 yards, 19 TDs, 4 INTs) refuse to be ignored. If Fresno makes a BCS bowl he has a shot.
ON THE RADAR (alphabetically)
Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon State
AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama
Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU
Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State