The play of Florida State QB Jameis Winston (who wears number 5) has been Heisman-worthy. (Bill Frakes/SI)
There are many unwritten rules of the Heisman Trophy race, but the most important might be the simplest one of all:
It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.
That rule is especially true in early November. In each of the past two seasons, the consensus Heisman favorite entering the regular season’s final month has not won the trophy. In 2011, Stanford’s Andrew Luck held the edge over Alabama running back Trent Richardson, but the Cardinal's quarterback threw two interceptions in a 53-30 loss to sixth-ranked Oregon on Nov. 12. Luck's meltdown opened the door for Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, who went on to win the trophy.
Last season, Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein was the odds-on favorite to win the Heisman after his four-touchdown (two rushing, two passing) performance in a 55-24 win over No. 15 Texas Tech on Oct. 27. But Klein and the Wildcats lost 52-24 to the unranked Bears on Nov. 17. Coming a week after Texas A&M had upset top-ranked Alabama, K-State's defeat gave Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel the push he needed to win the trophy.
Could we see the same sort of late-season shakeup this year? Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota and Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston have so far largely separated themselves from the pack, with Manziel still having an outside shot. But does the season have a Heisman late-bloomer like RGIII lying in wait?
Heisman Watch Week 10
1. Marcus Mariota, QB Oregon
2. Jameis Winston, QB Florida State
3. Johnny Manziel, QB Texas A&M
4. Bryce Petty, QB Baylor
5. AJ McCarron, QB Alabama
6. Tajh Boyd, QB Clemson
7. Teddy Bridgewater, QB Louisville
8. Braxton Miller, QB Ohio State
9. Jordan Lynch, QB Northern Illinois
10. Aaron Murray, QB Georgia
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Player of the Week
Jameis Winston, Florida State QB
Week 10 stats: 21-of-29 passing for 325 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions
Winston was more reckless than usual in the Seminoles' 41-14 win over Miami on Saturday. The redshirt freshman threw a season-high two interceptions – both in the first half -- against the Hurricanes, who put up a fight on defense in the first 30 minutes. The picks aside, Winston still completed 72 percent of his throws for 325 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown strike to running back Devonta Freeman. More importantly, unbeaten Florida State (8-0, 6-0 ACC) trampled a top-10 team and jumped to No. 2 in the BCS rankings.
The Seminoles led just 21-14 at halftime, but Winston shook off his first-half miscues to open things up in the third quarter, engineering two straight touchdown drives to increase Florida State's lead to 35-14, effectively putting the game out of reach. With Winston at the controls, the Seminoles have now beaten three top-25 teams – Clemson, Maryland and Miami – by a combined score of 155-28.
Though his team won the game, Winston failed to separate himself, in this voter's opinion, from the idle Marcus Mariota. Famous Jameis nevertheless remains one of the country's most efficient passers, trailing only Baylor’s Bryce Petty in passing efficiency (201.1) and yards per attempt (11.8). Moreover, Winston is one of only seven quarterbacks in the country with a completion rate of at least 70-percent.
Winston won't face many challenges the rest of the way. The Seminoles' next three games are against Wake Forest, Syracuse and Idaho before they close out the regular season against inconsistent Florida on Nov. 30 in Gainesville. Winston should have plenty of chances to pad his stats.
STAPLES: Florida State proves it can win even when Winston makes mistakes
Northern Illinois’ prolific quarterback took advantage of overmatched UMass in more ways than one during a 63-19 victory. The senior torched the Minutemen for 119 rushing yards and four touchdowns, while throwing for 160 yards and another score -- all in little more than two quarters. He’s accounted for 14 total touchdowns (six passing, eight rushing) in his last three games and leads all quarterbacks in rushing yards (1,150). Indeed, Lynch has 300 more yards on the ground than the country’s No. 2 rushing quarterback, BYU’s Taysom Hill. Lynch is the main reason that the 22nd-ranked Huskies (9-0, 5-0 MAC) remain in the hunt for a BCS berth.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer’s sudden fascination with scoring points is working wonders for Miller. The Buckeyes' quarterback played only the first half of a 56-0 beatdown of Purdue, but threw for 233 yards and four touchdowns -- including three in the first quarter -- and had a season-best 82.6-percent completion rate. Fourth-ranked Ohio State's defeat of the Boilermakers was by the most lopsided scoring margin in series history. In Miller’s last two games (the Buckeyes beat Penn State 63-14 on Oct. 26) he’s had a hand in nine total touchdowns (7 passing, two rushing), and thrown only one interception.
ELLIS: Ohio State continues dominance against Purdue
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney called the eighth-ranked Tigers’ 59-10 win over Virginia their “cleanest game in a while.” It’s probably no coincidence that Boyd shone in the rout of the Cavaliers. The senior left the game in the third quarter after he hit receiver Sammy Watkins for a 96-yard touchdown throw, Boyd’s third scoring pass of the night. He completed a season-high 82.8 percent of his attempts and became the ACC’s career leader in touchdown responsibility on Clemson's first possession of the game, when he found Watkins in the end zone for a 33-yard scoring strike.
The sophomore tried to spark Texas A&M’s offense with an impromptu huddle on the sidelines early against UTEP when the quarterback wasn’t liking what he’d seen from the Aggies in the first quarter. He certainly did his part in a 57-7 victory over the Miners, throwing for four touchdowns and running for two more in less than three quarters of work.
It took only a half for Braxton Miller to throw four TD passes against Purdue on Saturday. (Cal Sport Media via AP)
The stock of the top running back in a quarterback-heavy Heisman race took a hit Saturday. One week after Gordon ran for 142 yards and three touchdowns in a 56-32 win over Illinois, the sophomore was held in check by Iowa’s tough run defense in No. 21 Wisconsin's 28-9 victory over the Hawkeyes, gaining a season-low 62 yards on the ground. He also failed to score for only the second time of the season, while fellow tailback James White scored two touchdowns and ran for 132 yards.
Tweets of the week
Not bad for eight career games:
Winston’s leadership is hard to ignore:
In a battle of accuracy, does Mariota win out?
Video of the week
Not a fan of Jameis Winston? Just try to hate him after watching the Florida State quarterback toy around with Jimbo Fisher’s son, Trey, before taking the field against Miami.
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