Game week is finally here for college football.
So to kick things off I give you my five favorites to win the Heisman Trophy this season.
5. Jadeveon Clowney DE South Carolina (Sr. 6-6/274)
Let’s face it, the Heisman is an offensive award. Yet Clowney may be the only defensive player with a fighting chance to win it. He’ll have to improve upon his 2012 sack total of 13 to do it though. He also needs South Carolina to make it to at least the SEC Championship game if hes going to be invited to New York. On top of a a heap of sacks, Clowney’s also got to get involved in the offense for at least one game. I don’t care if it’s against Coastal Carolina on November 23, but the Rock Hill, S.C. native’s got to hit paydirt at least once.
Clowney’s chances are admittedly slim, but the Gamecocks schedule sets him up to have a chance. With the exception of a trip to Athens, Ga. in week two, USC gets all of its other big match-ups in Columbia. If Clowney and the Gamecocks find a way to get into the top five, the preseason hype for the defensive end could have him in the race.
4. Tajh Boyd QB Clemson (Sr. 6-1/225)
We’re staying in the Palmetto state for the next player on my list. I think that Tajh Boyd and Clemson could be poised to have a big year. Boyd threw for 3,896 yards last season and ran for another 514. He tossed 36 touchdowns to just 13 interceptions. By all accounts his top target, Sammy Watkins, is back to full speed this season after a dip in production last year.
Boyd finished 2012 on a high note with a game-winning drive against LSU in the Chic-fil-A Bowl. Clemson’s schedule will provide Boyd with plenty of Heisman moments, including a prime-time showdown with Georgia Saturday night to start the season off with a bang. Clemson also gets Florida State in Death Valley, and if Boyd can get it done at South Carolina to end the season he will be firmly in the race (assuming the Tigers don’t Clemson a game or two against lesser opponents).
For him to have a shot at winning the Heisman, Clemson has to beat Florida State and has to beat either Georgia or South Carolina. Obviously a USC win would do more than a win over Georgia since it’s the end of the season would mean a big-time performance against another Heisman contender in Clowney. The FSU win is crucial because it will likely lock up the division title (literally, not just by hanging up a sign with an asterisk,).
3. A.J. McCarron QB Alabama (Sr. 6-4/214)
Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron already has two national titles under his belt, and Alabama looks loaded to make a run a three-peat. McCarron has the dreaded rep of game-manager, but last year he threw a ridiculous 30 touchdowns to just three interceptions. In the Tide’s beat-down of Notre Dame in the title game, McCarron threw for 264 yards and four touchdowns.
He eclipsed the 300-yard passing mark just twice last year (306 against Tennessee, and a 309 in the loss to Texas A&M). Not that an Alabama QB doesn’t already have the nation’s attention, but McCarron will have a chance to throw his hat in the Heisman ring early in the year. Alabama opens up the year in the Georgia Dome against Virginia Tech, then after an off week they’ll look to avenge last year’s only loss with a visit to Texas A&M.
Unfortunately for McCarron it looks like the only way he’ll have a shot at the award is if Alabama runs the table. He’s also going to have to put up big numbers in the head-to-head match-up with Johnny Manziel at Kyle Field, as well as another win over LSU in Tuscaloosa on November 9. The biggest challenge McCarron will have is that Alabama is loaded with talent. He’ll have to convince voters he can do more than just distribute the ball to weapons like running back T.J. Yeldon and wideout Amari Cooper.
2. Johnny Manziel QB Texas A&M (RS So. 6-1/210)
There’s no one looking more forward to the start of actual football games than Johnny Manziel. After taking the college football season by storm last season, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner was at the heart of a tumultuous off-season. It all culminated in an ESPN report that Manziel was being investigated by the NCAA for accepting money in exchange for autograph signings.
As of right now it looks like Texas A&M has no plans to sit Manziel and I don’t expect him to miss any time this season. If the NCAA could prove that he did in fact accept money for his signature, then they likely would have already ruled him ineligible.
Last year Manziel was unreal on the filed, throwing for 3,706 yards and rushing for a league-high 1,410. Yes he led the SEC in rushing last year and also threw the ball 434 times. His off-season will certainly hurt his standing with voters, but if he can duplicate last year’s numbers then it will all be quickly forgotten. Manziel has to ensure he doesn’t get shut down by Alabama in week three. I’m not sure that TAMU has to win that game for him to repeat as Heisman winner, but he’s got to prove he can punch a hole in the Crimson Tide defense again.
A win against Alabama will certainly go a long way towards another Heisman for Manziel, but the game that would likely clinch a second trophy for him is on November 23 at LSU. If TAMU’s lone loss is to Alabama and Manziel performs some magic in Death Valley late in the year, then he will again find himself in New York for the Heisman Ceremony.
1. Braxton Miller QB Ohio State (Jr. 6-2/215)
Braxton Miller led Ohio State to an undefeated season last year. You might not remember because the Buckeyes were on probation and thus ineligible for a bowl game or the BIG Ten title.
In his first season with Urban Meyer, Miller threw for 2,039 yards and ran another 1,271. He did throw just 15 touchdowns to six interceptions, but he ran for 13 scores as well. Miller is the Buckeye’s biggest running threat this season, especially with senior running back Carlos Hyde suspended for the first three games of the season. Miller will also have the advantage of working behind four returning starters up front.
Ohio State’s schedule is more than manageable. The Buckeyes get Wisconsin, Iowa and Penn State at home this year. On the road they won’t be tested until an October 5 trip to Northwestern (Sorry Cal), and after that not again until it heads to Michigan on November 30. The Buckeyes avoid Mighican State all together in the regular season, but could see the Spartans in the BIG Ten Championship game to end the season.
Because of Ohio State’s schedule, and the fact that I don’t expect any Big Ten defenses to be able to slow him down, Braxton Miller is my current favorite to win the 2013 Heisman Trophy.
Let me know who you’re Top 5 Heisman Favorites are. I’ll post a few other players who I think could be in the Heisman mix tomorrow.
And just to clarify, yes I do hate your team.