Mike Huguenin has spent more than 29 years in sports journalism, many of them closely associated with college football. As a longtime Heisman Trophy voter and one who will cast his ballot again at the end of this season, Huguenin takes a weekly look at the Heisman race.
Texas A&M lost to Alabama on Saturday, but the performance by the Aggies' Johnny Manziel -- on a weekend in which some other top Heisman contenders either didn't play all that well or play at all -- was enough to propel him to the top of our Week 3 Heisman Watch list.
Here are this week's top 10 contenders, from 10th to first, as this Heisman voter sees them:
10. QB Derek Carr, Fresno State
Last week: Fresno State had a bye in Week 3.
2013 stats: 337.5 passing yards per game, 8 TDs, 1 INT, 71.4 completion percentage
The skinny: Coming off a bye week, Carr gets a chance to shine on national TV on Friday when the Bulldogs play host to Boise State. The more Fresno wins, the better chance Carr has of staying in the Heisman conversation. He is an extreme long shot, but if he can light up a Boise defense that played poorly against Washington, it would help his cause.
9. RB Bishop Sankey, Washington
Last week: 35 carries for 208 yards, 1 TD; 3 receptions for 63 yards, 1 TD vs. Illinois
2013 stats: 184.5 rushing yards per game, 3 rushing TDs, 1 receiving TD
The skinny: Sankey had a huge day on Saturday as the Huskies beat Illinois at Soldier Field. He is underrated nationally but has six 100-yard outings in his past seven games. QB Keith Price and TE Austin Sefarian-Jenkins get most of the acclaim on the Huskies' offense, but Sankey is the Huskies' most important player. The Huskies play a woeful Idaho team this week, which could hurt his stats because Sankey might not even have to play the second half.
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8. QB Jameis Winston, Florida State
Last week: 15 of 18 for 214 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT; 1 rushing TD vs. Nevada
2013 stats: 285.0 passing yards per game, 6 TDs, 1 INT, 88.9 completion percentage, 2 rushing TDs
The skinny: Winston threw two incompletions in his first game and tossed just three in his second. He plays with a poise belying his redshirt freshman status and could put up big numbers this week against FCS member Bethune-Cookman. As with Sankey against Idaho, chances are Winston won't play much, if at all, in the second half against the Wildcats.
7. QB Brett Hundley, UCLA
Last week: 16 of 24 for 294 yars, 3 TDs, 1 INT; 61 yards rushing at Nebraska
2013 stats: 284.0 passing yards per game, 5 TDs, 1 interception, 66.7 completion percentage, 62.0 rushing yards per game, 2 TDsThe skinny: Hundley used a national TV appearance against Nebraska to state his case. He and the Bruins started slow, but Hundley was razor-sharp in the second half, when UCLA blew the Huskers off the field. He is a true dual-threat quarterback with excellent running skills, and he has a chance to put up big numbers this week against a bad New Mexico State squad.
6. TB Lache Seastrunk, Baylor
Last week: Baylor had a bye in Week 3.
2013 stats: 130.5 rushing yards per game, 5 rushing TDs
The skinny: Seastrunk has just 28 carries this season and may not be heavily used again this week when the Bears go against Louisiana-Monroe, their last non-conference foe. Given the state of the defenses in the Big 12, the speedy and shifty Seastrunk could (should?) reach the 100-yard plateau in every game this season.
5. TB Todd Gurley, Georgia
Last week: Georgia had a bye in Week 3.
2013 stats: 143.0 rushing yards per game, 3 rushing TDs, 1 receiving TDThe skinny: Gurley and the Bulldogs were off this past week after opening with the toughest two-game stretch in the nation: Clemson and South Carolina. After a relative breather this week against North Texas, Gurley can make a huge Heisman statement on Sept. 28 when Georgia plays host to LSU and its aggressive, physical defense.
4. QB Tajh Boyd, Clemson
Last week: Clemson had a bye in Week 3.
2013 stats: 219.5 passing yards per game, 3 TDs, 0 interceptions, 60.4 completion percentage, 3 rushing TDs
The skinny: Boyd hasn't even played six quarters of football this season; he was the key figure in the Tigers' opening win over Georgia, then didn't even play a half in a Game 2 rout of South Carolina State. The Tigers have a tough game Thursday night against North Carolina State. To stay near the top of the Heisman race, Boyd has to put up good numbers each week because of the perceived weakness of the ACC.
3. QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon
Last week: 23 of 43 for 456 yards, 4 TDs and 0 INTs; 27 rushing yards, 1 TD at Tennessee
2013 stats: 296.3 passing yards per game, 7 TDs, 0 interceptions, 59.8 completion percentage, 87.3 rushing yards per game, 4 TDs
The skinny: Mariota and the Ducks hammered Tennessee on Saturday. Granted, the Vols are not among the SEC's elite, but that shouldn't put a damper on Mariota's performance. The Ducks are off this week, then open Pac-12 play with back-to-back games against highly questionable defenses: California and Colorado. Mariota should put up big numbers in both.
2. QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
Last week: 16 of 28, 250 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs; 35 rushing TDs at Kentucky
2013 stats: 334.0 passing yards per game, 10 TDs, 1 interception, 70.5 completion percentage
The skinny: Bridgewater and Louisville slogged past a bad Kentucky team, and surely didn't win any style points by failing to put away the SEC's worst team until the fourth quarter. Bridgewater didn't even complete 60 percent of his passes against UK. He and the Cardinals get Florida International this week -- an FCS team coming off a 21-point loss to a mediocre FCS program. Bridgewater likely won't have to play much more than a half, which could hurt his numbers.
1. QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Last week: 28 of 39 for 464 yards, 5 TDs, 2 INTs; 98 rushing yards vs. Alabama
2013 stats: 328.0 passing yards per game, 11 TDs, 3 interceptions, 70.8 completion percentage, 51.0 rushing yards per game, 1 TD
The skinny: Yes, Manziel threw two picks in the loss to Alabama, including an end-zone interception in the first half that was the key play of the game. Still, without his magic, A&M wouldn't have had a chance to win. Manziel once again showed his escapability and mobility, and also put a number of hugely important passes right on the money. Bottom line: The guy is fun to watch, and that helps make up for his boorishness off the field. He has a number of big games left, including a Nov. 23 contest at LSU that will go a long way toward determining whether he can repeat as the Heisman winner.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.