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.
On Saturday against SMU, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel wasn't nearly as transcendent as he was the week before against Alabama, but his performance was enough to keep him atop our Heisman Watch list.
Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr shined in his second national TV appearance of the season, putting up big numbers in an important win over Boise State, but Carr is going to be toiling in relative anonymity the rest of the way because of the Bulldogs' weak schedule.
This week, two sophomore tailbacks -- Georgia's Todd Gurley and Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon -- have a chance to make some points with Heisman voters because of hugely important conference games. Gurley and the Bulldogs play host to No. 6 LSU, while Gordon and the Badgers travel to face No. 4 Ohio State.
Here are this week's top 10 contenders, from 10th to first, as this Heisman voter sees them:
10. TB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
2013 stats: 156.0 rushing yards per game, 7 TDs
Last week: 16 carries for 147 yards, 3 TDs in 41-10 victory vs. Purdue
The skinny: Gordon leads the nation in rushing despite averaging just 13.3 carries per game; his per-carry average is a staggering 11.8 yards. He can propel himself farther up the Heisman charts with a big performance this week in a Big Ten showdown at Ohio State. While Gordon shares carries in the Badgers' run-heavy offense, he unquestionably is their key tailback and his workload should increase.
9. RB Bishop Sankey, Washington
The stats: 148.7 rushing yards per game, 4 rushing TDs, 1 receiving TD
Last week: 4 carries for 77 yards, 1 TD in 56-0 victory vs. Idaho State
The skinny: Sankey barely played in the Huskies' rout of Idaho State, an atrocious FCS program. It's all Pac-12 opponents from here on out, starting with Arizona this week. Sankey is the Huskies' most important player and will get ample opportunity to put up good numbers each week.
8. QB Derek Carr, Fresno State
2013 stats: 373.7 passing yards per game, 12 TDs, 1 interception, 68.9 completion percentage
Last week: 39-of-60, 460 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs in 41-40 victory vs. Boise State
The skinny: Carr was in the spotlight in leading the Bulldogs past Boise State on Friday night. It was the second time this season he put up at least 60 attempts. Carr's issue is that the Bulldogs' schedule isn't that good, with the toughest remaining games coming against San Diego State and San Jose State. In short, he must put up big numbers if he wants to even remain in the Heisman conversation. The positive aspect of the easy schedule: He is the best player on a team that could finish unbeaten, which will garner him some attention.
7. QB Brett Hundley, UCLA
2013 stats: 282.7 passing yards per game, 8 TDs, 3 interception, 66.3 completion percentage, 52.3 rushing yards per game, 2 TDs
Last week: 23-of-35 for 280 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs in 59-13 victory vs. New Mexico State
The skinny: Amid a somewhat lackluster performance against New Mexico State were two interceptions. Then again, perhaps a letdown of sorts was to be expected following UCLA's huge win at Nebraska. The Bruins are off until they play at Utah on Oct. 3 in an intriguing Pac-12 contest.
6. TB Todd Gurley, Georgia
2013 stats: 125.7 rushing yards per game, 4 rushing TDs, 1 receiving TD
Last week: 21 carries for 91 yards, 1 TD in 45-21 victory vs. North Texas
The skinny: North Texas did a good job defending Gurley on Saturday, holding him to 91 yards on 21 carries. The Bulldogs didn't play with any urgency until midway through the third quarter. That shouldn't be the case this week, when Georgia welcomes in LSU for a big SEC showdown. Gurley can make a huge Heisman statement against the Tigers and their quick and physical defense.
5. RB Lache Seastrunk, Baylor
2013 stats: 139.0 rushing yards per game, 6 rushing TDs
Last week: 10 carries, 156 yards, 1 TD in 70-7 victory vs. Louisiana-Monroe
The skinny: Seastrunk and the Bears mauled Louisiana-Monroe and he got just 10 carries; he picked up 156 yards on those attempts, though. Baylor has its second bye week of the season (seriously, two off-weeks in the first five weeks of the season?) this Saturday. Starting Oct. 5 with West Virginia, it's all Big 12 opponents the rest of the way; presumably, that means his workload will increase. He should reach the 100-yard plateau in every game this season.
4. QB Tajh Boyd, Clemson
2013 stats: 227.7 passing yards per game, 6 TDs, 0 interceptions, 62.2 completion percentage, 3 rushing TDs
Last week: 24-of-37 for 244 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs; 13 carries for 38 yards in 26-14 victory at N.C. State
The skinny: Boyd had an efficient performance in Thursday's victory at North Carolina State. His numbers might not be as gaudy as expected, but Clemson has played only three games and Boyd didn't even play a half in a Game 2 rout of South Carolina State. Boyd did a nice job of not forcing things against a Wolfpack defense that was hell-bent on not giving up a long pass. He seemed more cautious than usual, an admirable trait in a tough road game. Clemson gets a bad Wake Forest defense this week.
3. QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon
2013 stats: 296.3 passing yards per game, 7 TDs, 0 interceptions, 59.8 completion percentage, 87.3 rushing yards per game, 4 TDs
Last week: Oregon had a bye.
The skinny: Oregon's next two games are against California and Colorado, meaning Mariota should put up big numbers in both. The flipside: The big numbers are expected, and might not impress that much.
2. QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
2013 stats: 303.5 passing yards per game, 14 TDs, 1 interception, 71.8 completion percentage
Last week: 17-of-22 for 212 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs in 72-0 victory vs. Florida International
The skinny: It's hard to argue with those who say Bridgewater is the best pro prospect among the nation's quarterbacks. The issue is that the schedule is so non-rigorous that -- as with Mariota the next two weeks -- big numbers are expected each week from Bridgewater. And if he doesn't produce big, he risks losing ground in the Heisman race.
1. QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
2013 stats: 307.0 passing yards per game, 12 TDs, 4 interceptions, 70.0 completion percentage, 63.8 rushing yards per game, 3 TDs
Last week: 14-of-21 for 244 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 12 carries, 102 yards, 2 TDs in 42-13 victory vs. SMU
The skinny: Manziel had a big day on the ground in a rout of SMU. His passing numbers were pedestrian, although he was pulled early in A&M's rout. The Aggies' next game is against Arkansas, whose secondary was torched this past weekend by Rutgers' Gary Nova. In other words, it's doubtful Manziel puts up pedestrian passing numbers two weeks in a row. It's also doubtful he'll be pulled early in an SEC contest.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at email@example.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.