Two weeks of college football have passed and the Heisman watch list hasn’t changed too much. Of course, it’s still early. Teams haven’t played the toughest parts of their schedules yet and our sample size is small to judge. But this could be a moving week for a few players and for one player in particular.
1. Tajh Boyd (QB, Clemson) – Boyd has the best win of any Heisman contender this season with a victory against now No. 9 Georgia. The No. 3 Tigers also handled South Carolina State 52-13, but Boyd’s numbers – 14 of 23 for 169 yards and 10 yards on six carries with one touchdown – were hurt by the fact he only played in the first half. Boyd won’t hurt or help himself this weekend as his team has the Saturday off before going on the road for a dangerous Thursday night game against North Carolina State next week. He’ll also have chances to improve his Heisman standing during the game against Florida State on Oct. 19 and at South Carolina to finish the regular season on Nov. 30.
2. Teddy Bridgewater (QB, Louisville) – Bridgewater continued to do what he does best – torch teams with his arm – against Eastern Kentucky last week. He completed 23 of 32 pass attempts for 397 yards and four touchdowns against Eastern Kentucky. His completion percentage (76.7 percent) and his touchdown to interception ratio (9:1) are on pace to beat Robert Griffin III’s respective Heisman winning numbers in 2011. Granted we’re only two weeks in so keeping those numbers at that pace is crucial, and easier said then done, for Bridgewater. The Cardinals’ easy schedule – ranked the No. 98 toughest schedule by Phil Steele entering the season – could be a double-edged sword for Bridgewater. One false step, or even a bad game, against Kentucky this weekend or Cincinnati to end the season, could end his chances for the Heisman. The No. 7 Cardinals’ schedule will also offer Bridgewater opportunities to build up his statistics in what should include multiple blowouts.
3. Todd Gurley (RB, Georgia) – A new name on my list, Gurley is the premiere running back of the SEC and probably the entire NCAA. Gurley was a defensive stop away from being the player of the game in the Bulldogs loss to Clemson at the start of the season. He sliced through the Tigers’ defense for 154 yards on 12 carries – nearly 13 yards a carry – for two touchdowns, which included a 75 yard run to tie the game early on. Gurley helped the Bulldogs right the ship against then No. 6 South Carolina with 134 yards on 30 carries in a 41-30 win. Gurley’s Heisman chances will continue to rise with 100 yard performances in Bulldogs’ wins in the SEC. But quarterback Aaron Murray’s success – he threw for four touchdowns and 309 yards against South Carolina – could split votes between the teammates.
4. Johnny Manziel (QB, Texas A&M;) – The rematch with No. 1 Alabama is finally here for Manziel and the No. 6 Aggies. Manziel hasn’t been available to the media in the week leading up to what many consider the biggest game of the regular season, but it’s a safe bet he won’t be silent slinging the ball around against Nick Saban’s defense. Win this game and Manziel probably catapults his name up to the top of the Heisman list. Manziel showed no signs of slowing down last week in the Aggies’ 65-28 win over Sam Houston State. The sophomore is unlikely to match last week’s 403 yard passing performance against Alabama. But anything close to Manziel’s 345 yards of total offense in the Aggies upset of Alabama last season, will go a long way in silencing his critics.
5. Braxton Miller (QB, Ohio State) – The No. 4 Buckeyes have handled their first two opponents by a combined 55 points. Miller, however, missed most of the Buckeyes’ most recent win against San Diego State after sustaining a sprained ligament in his left knee. Head coach Urban Meyer told the media on Monday that Miller would be a day-to-day decision for this weekend’s game at California, who leads the NCAA with 472.5 passing yards per game. However, Miller doesn’t need to blow up the record books against California. He only needs to win and get back to full strength for the upcoming battles at home with No. 20 Wisconsin and at No. 17 Northwestern. Get through those on top and a trip to rival No. 11 Michigan on Nov. 30 followed by the Big 10 Championship would be his final chances to prove himself to Heisman voters.