Could Bryce Petty be the November surprise we’ve been waiting for in the Heisman race?
The Baylor quarterback put up another eye-popping stat line in a 63-34 rout of Texas Tech, accounting for five touchdowns in his team’s ninth straight win. But for one of the few occasions this season, Petty and the Bears had to deal with a little adversity thanks to a banged-up roster and an early double-digit deficit. Heisman winners often shine in those moments, and Petty came through to keep Baylor unbeaten.
This coming weekend could be imperative for Petty’s Heisman hopes, as well as Baylor’s shot at a BCS title. The Bears travel to No. 12 Oklahoma State in arguably the biggest game left on their schedule. The one knock on Baylor – that is, that the Bears haven’t faced many true tests this year – won’t apply to Saturday’s meeting with the proven Cowboys. Baylor moved to No. 4 in the latest BCS standings thanks to Stanford’s loss, and the Bears might jump Ohio State for the No. 3 spot next week with a win over Oklahoma State.
Petty might not pass the current Heisman Watch favorites without a little help. Jameis Winston is still the favorite as long as Florida State keeps winning. Meanwhile, Johnny Manziel continues to nip on Winston’s heels in a quest for a repeat. But a loss by either Winston or Manziel could make things interesting with Petty in the mix.
Heisman Watch Week 12
1. Jameis Winston
3. Bryce Petty
4. AJ McCarron
Player of the Week
Bryce Petty, Baylor QB
Week 12 stats: 17-of-31 for 335 yards passing, three touchdowns; nine rushes for nine yards, two touchdowns
Baylor entered Saturday’s game against Texas Tech without running backs Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin or wideout Tevin Reese, who were all sidelined with injuries. Many wondered whether the Bears could continue their blistering pace on offense without so many weapons.
Petty helped quell those concerns. The redshirt junior quarterback accounted for 335 of Baylor’s 675 yards of offense and scored five total touchdowns for the second game in a row. On the whole, the Bears dipped just 11 yards off their season average of 686 yards per game. The Bears came in averaging 61 points per game and hung 63 on the Red Raiders.
Baylor actually faced an unusual double-digit deficit in the first quarter against Texas Tech. Staring at a 14-0 hole, Petty tossed two of his touchdown passes to help bring the Bears to a 21-20 lead by the end of the period. It was a lead Baylor wouldn’t give up. “Tonight showed us a lot,” Petty told reporters after the game. “We’re a resilient team.”
Petty has now tossed three touchdowns and run for two more in each of the last two games. He’s thrown for at least 300 yards in all but one game this season while also managing to remain one of the country’s most efficient passers; Petty leads the FBS in passing efficiency (206.2) and yards per attempt (12.8) and is third in adjusted QBR (91.8). The redshirt junior has thrown for just under 3,000 yards while giving up only a single interception this season.
Petty is already a strong candidate to reach New York as a finalist, but with huge games against Oklahoma State next weekend and Texas in the regular-season finale, the Baylor quarterback could sway a few last-minute voters in his favor.
Negative headlines dominated much of Winston’s week thanks to the news of his involvement in a sexual battery investigation. Not much is known about the details of the situation, but Florida State felt confident enough to keep Winston on the field, where he soared once again. The redshirt freshman completed 19-of-21 passes for 277 yards and two scores in only one half of action against Syracuse. Winston helped the ‘Noles build a 28-0 lead by the end of the first quarter, and they continued to reel off 523 yards of offense on 11.6 yards per play.
One way to bounce back from losing to Stanford is to wallop the only team that beat the Cardinal. That’s what Mariota and Oregon did Saturday. The sophomore quarterback threw for 288 yards and three touchdowns as the Ducks rocked the Utes. Mariota did struggle again on the ground (four carries for -18 yards), perhaps due in part to an ailing knee injury, but he still has yet to throw an interception on the season.
One week after McCarron looked the part of a Heisman winner against LSU, he was fairly pedestrian against a lesser Mississippi State squad. McCarron completed 56 percent of his throws, his most inaccurate outing since the Tide’s opening win against Virginia Tech (43.5). Moreover, the senior uncharacteristically tossed two interceptions; he’d thrown three all season prior to Saturday’s game. This isn’t the performance McCarron needed to hang with other stat-heavy Heisman contenders.
Tweets of the week
That’s a nice bit of scoring:
Winston and the ‘Noles are prone to quick starts:
Accuracy is Mariota’s bread and butter:
Video of the week
Marcus Mariota finds De’Anthony Thomas with a pinpoint pass in the corner of the end zone to kick off Oregon’s big day against Utah.MANDEL: Bowl Projections: USC's upset creates Pac-12 chain reaction