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.
The top three in this week's Heisman watch stayed the same, but there's a potential for some shakeup next week when Jameis Winston and Florida State play host to Miami (Fla.).
Winston, Oregon's Marcus Mariota and Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel played well Saturday, but none put up huge numbers -- which had been the case from at least one of the trio in each of the preceding weeks.
The most noteworthy performance Saturday was turned in by Washington tailback Bishop Sankey, who rebounded from his worst performance of the season with what might have been the best one of his career.
Two other contenders who could help themselves next weekend are Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion, who plays against USC on national TV on Thursday night, and Wisconsin tailback Melvin Gordon, who goes against Iowa's tough defense next Saturday on national TV (either ABC or ESPN). Iowa has allowed a nation's-low two rushing TDs all season.
Here are this week's top 10 contenders, from 10th to first, as this Heisman voter sees them:
10. QB Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois
2013 stats: 213.9 passing yards per game, 18 TDs, 5 interceptions, 62.9 completion percentage, 128.9 rushing yards per game, 8 rushing TDs, 1 receiving TD.
Last week: 16 for 20 passing for 223 yards and 4 TDs; 18 carries for 99 yards and 1 TD rushing; 1 reception for 17 yards and 1 TD in 59-20 win over Eastern Michigan.
The skinny: Lynch, a senior, has started 22 games in the past two seasons, and in those games NIU is 20-2 overall and 8-0 this season. In Saturday's win over Eastern Michigan, he threw two TD passes, ran for 99 yards and a score and also caught a touchdown pass; he was the first FBS player to do that since Ohio's Boo Jackson in 2010. He has the opportunity for more big numbers this week against winless Massachusetts. Lynch also has NIU in contention for a second consecutive BCS bid.
9. QB Bryce Petty, Baylor
2013 stats: 350.4 passing yards per game, 18 TDs, 1 interception, 69.3 completion percentage.
Last week: 20 for 32 passing for 430 yards and 3 TDs; 4 carries for 22 yards and a TD rushing in 59-14 win over Kansas.
The skinny: Petty, a junior who is starting for the first time this season, threw for a career-high 430 yards in leading Baylor to an easy win over Kansas on Saturday. He has thrown for at least 312 yards in each of the Bears' seven games, though he hasn't exactly been lighting up good defenses. There are 13 quarterbacks averaging 300 passing yards per game, but Petty has the fewest attempts (by seven) and the fewest completions (by six) among those 13. He averages 13.9 yards per attempt, by far the highest figure in the nation.
8. QB Derek Carr, Fresno State
2013 stats: 367.7 passing yards per game, 25 TDs, 4 interceptions, 69.0 completion percentage.
Last week: 35 for 57 passing for 298 yards and 2 TDs in 35-28 overtime win over San Diego State.
The skinny: Carr and the Bulldogs survived San Diego State in overtime Saturday, with Carr throwing for 298 yards and two TDs. Carr, a senior, is second nationally in TD passes and third in attempts per game (52.0). The issue for Carr: The schedule is weak, and big numbers are expected each week. Frankly, when it comes to the Heisman race, 298 yards against San Diego State elicits a yawn.
7. TB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
2013 stats: 144.6 rushing yards per game, 11 rushing TDs.
Last week: Wisconsin had a bye.
The skinny: Gordon and the Badgers were off this weekend. He is No. 4 nationally in rushing yards per game. Gordon, a third-year sophomore, is averaging 9.5 yards per carry, a figure that leads the nation among backs with at least 80 carries. He has had six 100-yard outings this season; the only time he didn't reach 100 was in the Badgers' loss to Ohio State. That also was the only game in which he didn't score.
6. QB Sean Mannion, Oregon State
2013 stats: 407.9 passing yards per game, 30 TDs, 3 interceptions, 69.1 completion percentage.
Last week: 41 for 57 passing for 271 yards and 1 TD in 20-12 loss to Stanford.
The skinny: Mannion, a junior, leads the nation in passing yards per game but is coming off his worst game of the season. "Worst" is a relative term: He completed 41 of 57 passes, but for just 271 yards and a TD in a narrow loss to Stanford. It was the first time this season he threw for fewer than 367 yards and the first game in which he didn't throw at least three TD passes. He is second in the nation in attempts (391) and completions (270). He goes against a tough USC defense next weekend.
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5. RB Bishop Sankey, Washington
2013 stats: 145.3 rushing yards per game, 12 rushing TDs, 1 receiving TD.
Last week: 27 carries for 241 yards and 2 TDs; 1 reception for 12 yards in 41-17 win over California.
The skinny: Sankey, a junior, bounced back from a subpar performance in a loss to Arizona State with a career-high 241 yards in a rout of California. It was his second 200-yard outing of the season and the fourth time he rushed for two TDs in a game. He is tied for the national lead in rushing TDs and leads the nation in rushing attempts (199). Washington has three losses and Sankey isn't going to win the Heisman; he's not even the leading contender in the Pac-12. On the flipside: He's a workhorse who has been extremely productive against a tough schedule, and as of today, he would deserve to be present in New York for the ceremony.
4. QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
2013 stats: 319.6 passing yards per game, 23 TDs, 2 interception, 73.7 completion percentage.
Last week: 25 for 29 passing for 344 yards and 3 TDs in 34-3 win over South Florida.
The skinny: Bridgewater and the Cardinals rebounded from their first loss by cruising past USF in a game in which Bridgewater threw for 344 yards and three touchdowns. It was his sixth 300-yard game of the season and his fourth game with at least three TD passes. Bridgewater, a junior, might be the most pro-ready quarterback in the nation, but given the weakness of Louisville's schedule, he will be lucky if he makes it to New York as a Heisman finalist. He is third in the nation in TD passes and second in completion percentage among the quarterbacks who qualify. He's also averaging 10.6 yards per attempts, which means his high completion percentage is not compiled in a dink-and-dunk attack.
3. QB Jameis Winston, Florida State
2013 stats: 311.0 passing yards per game, 23 TDs, 4 interceptions, 69.9 completion percentage, 3 rushing TDs.
Last week: 16 for 26 passing for 292 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT in 49-17 win over North Carolina State.
The skinny: Winston, bidding to become the second consecutive redshirt freshman to win the Heisman, was on fire in the first quarter against North Carolina State on Saturday; he was 11-of-13 for 229 yards and three TDs as the Seminoles built a 35-0 lead in the period and cruised from there in a 49-17 rout. He cooled considerably from there (he finished 16-of-26 for 292 yards), but the damage was done. It was his fourth consecutive game with at least three TD passes. His completion percentage against the Wolfpack (61.5) was his second-lowest of the season. Winston is tied for third nationally in TD passes, and his yards-per-attempt average (11.9) is second among those who qualify.
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2. QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
2013 stats: 324.3 passing yards per game, 22 TDs, 8 interceptions, 73.0 completion percentage, 62.1 rushing yards per game, 6 TDs.
Last week: 25 for 35 passing for 305 yards, 4 TDs and 1 INT; 4 carries for 11 yards rushing in 56-24 win over Vanderbilt.
The skinny: There was a question as to whether Manziel, who had been bothered by a shoulder injury would play against Vanderbilt, but he threw for 305 yards and four TDs against the Commodores. It was the third time this season he threw at least four TD passes. His completion percentage is third nationally among quarterbacks who qualify and he is sixth in TD passes. Manziel, a third-year sophomore, also is third nationally in total offense (386.4 yards per game).
1. QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon
2013 stats: 285.1 passing yards per game, 20 TDs, 0 interceptions, 64.0 completion percentage, 63.9 rushing yards per game, 9 TDs.
Last week: 21 for 28 passing for 230 yards and 1 TD; 7 carries for 18 yards rushing in 42-14 win over UCLA.
The skinny: Mariota, a third-year sophomore, had a relatively quiet day, as Oregon awakened in the second half to blow past UCLA, 42-14. Mariota threw for 230 yards and a TD threw for 327 yards and two TDs and rushed for a season-low 18 yards. In addition, his streak of running and passing for a TD in nine consecutive games ended. But he has thrown at least one TD pass in all 21 games of his career. He hasn't thrown an interception in eight games and is the most important player on what might be the nation's best team.