Week seven of college football has arrived, and not much has changed at the top of the Heisman watch. K-State will become familiar with No. 6 on the list this weekend, whose stock may be rising the fastest of any player in the country. Can the Wildcats spoil another Heisman campaign like they did last year against Geno Smith and West Virginia? It’s not impossible, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
1. Tajh Boyd (QB, Clemson) – Boyd continued his stellar season in Clemson’s 49-14 win over Syracuse, throwing for 455 yards and five touchdowns. His personal statistics don’t quite measure up to those of Fresno State’s Derek Carr, Baylor’s Bryce Petty or Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, but he beat No. 7 Georgia and Aaron Murray. Carr’s biggest win? Boise State. Petty’s biggest win? West Virginia. Bridgewater’s biggest win? Kentucky. Petty is the only of the three whose remaining schedule could even compare to Boyd’s, which still has No. 6 Florida State and No. 14 South Carolina on it.
2. Marcus Mariota (QB, Oregon) – Mariota rebounded from an average showing – 11 for 25 for 114 yards – against California with a 16-of-27 performance for 355 yards and seven touchdowns —two rushing — against Colorado. No. 8 in total offense per game though seven weeks, Mariota gets a chance to perform against the Ducks’ first ranked opponent this Saturday on the road against No. 16 Washington. His schedule doesn’t get easier after that either, with No. 11 UCLA and a road game against No. 5 Stanford in two of their next three games.
3. Aaron Murray (QB, Georgia) – Murray avoided a Heisman-ending loss to Tennessee when he tied the game up on a 2-yard touchdown pass with 5 seconds left in regulation as the Bulldogs went on to win 34-31 in overtime. The senior completed 19-of-35 pass attempts for 196 yards and three touchdowns to help overcome an injury to Keith Marshall, who was starting in place of the injured star running back Todd Gurley. With a rising Missouri team coming to Athens, Ga., Saturday, Murray’s load to carry won’t get any lighter, especially with Gurley described as doubtful for the game by Georgia head coach Mark Richt and Marshall missing the rest of the season with a knee surgery.
4. Johnny Manziel (QB, Texas A&M;) – Manziel is coming off a bye week and is sitting at No. 6 in the NCAA in total offense at 360.6 yards per game. The Aggies will be on ESPN’s primetime game Saturday against Ole Miss, who is coming off a loss to Auburn. I’m still not ready to sell off Manziel until his production drops off significantly or the Aggies lose again, but his late-season opportunities on the road against No. 10 LSU and No. 25 Missouri probably couldn’t overcome another loss like last year’s Alabama win did.
5. Jameis Winston (QB, Florida State) – It’s hard to ignore beating a ranked team 63-0, even if it is then No. 25 Maryland, whose best win is a 37-0 win over West Virginia. The freshman turned the Terrapins’ defense upside down with 393 passing yards on 23-of-32 pass attempts to go along with five touchdowns. If Winston can engineer an upset win against Tajh Boyd’s No. 3 Clemson Tigers in two weeks, talk of a second freshman Heisman winner in a row will increase in volume greatly.
6. Bryce Petty (QB, Baylor) – I’ll admit, I wasn’t totally sold on Baylor’s offense after wins over Wofford, Buffalo and Louisiana-Monroe with offensive point totals of 69, 70, and 70, respectively. After the Bears topping every one of their previous three offensive onslaughts against a West Virginia team fresh off a win over No. 22 Oklahoma State, I lost all doubt. The Bears’ 73-42 win over the Mountaineers included 864 yards of offense, a Big 12 record, 370 of which came from the junior Petty. Ranking No. 8 in the NCAA in total yards per game (352), Petty guides the No. 1 offense in the NCAA in terms of total offense (779.5), passing yards per game (432.3), and scoring (70.5). Unless Baylor trips up against K-State Saturday in Manhattan, a city where the Bears are 0-4 all-time, they should enter their Nov. 7 matchup with No. 12 Oklahoma undefeated – barring a miracle upset from KU or Iowa State between the K-State and Oklahoma games.
7. AJ McCarron (QB, Alabama) – McCarron’s 15-of-16 outing in Alabama’s 45-3 win over Georgia State is a wash for me. He played almost flawlessly, but it was only for one half of football against a team without a win still, so I’m not overly impressed. However, the three-time national champion will stay on my list until he loses, gets injured or my word length gets cut down on the Heisman watch. Whatever comes first.