Jameis Winston fighting off Mariota, Manziel for Heisman

In 1962, Oregon State quarterback Terry Baker won the Heisman Trophy. He also was a consensus first-team All-American, was the winner of 14 player-of-the-year awards, and was named "Sportsman of the Year" by Sports Illustrated.

His 1962 statistics: 1,738 passing yards, 15 touchdowns, 5 interceptions.

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Yes, the game has changed. A lot. For proof, take a look at the statistics of the three front-runners for this year's Heisman with more than a month's worth of games remaining:

» Florida State QB Jameis Winston (seven games): 2,177 yards, 23 touchdowns, 4 interceptions.

» Oregon QB Marcus Mariota (eight games): 2,281 yards, 20 touchdowns, 0 interceptions.

» Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel (eight games): 2,594 yards, 22 touchdowns, 8 interceptions.

These are video-game numbers, but they're not reserved only for Heisman candidates. Currently, 22 FBS quarterbacks have thrown for more than 2,000 yards, with Oregon State's Sean Mannion leading the charge with 3,263.

As we all know, however, statistics aren't the only thing Heisman voters take into account when casting their vote. Just ask Baker, the first West Coast winner, who still remains the lone recipient from the Pacific Northwest.

Handicapping the top candidates to win the Heisman Trophy this season and their odds of pulling off the feat:

Check out Florida State's new quarterback, "Famous" Jameis Winston, as he emerges as one of college football's new stars.

1. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

Odds: 3-1.

Analysis: Winston faces his biggest remaining challenge this week, when the Seminoles host No. 7 Miami. Come out of this matchup clean, which I suspect he will, and the Heisman will be his to lose. It's the second top-10 team Winston will face in three weeks; on Oct. 19 he slayed then No. 3-ranked Clemson on the road, 51-14, by throwing for 444 yards and three touchdowns. Miami coach Al Golden is a good defensive tactician who will game-plan for Winston. If Winston beats Miami, perhaps the only question left will be how Alabama was unable to keep the Hueytown, Ala., product in-state.

Remaining schedule: Nov. 2 vs. Miami, Nov. 9 at Wake Forest, Nov. 16 vs. Syracuse, Nov. 23 vs. Idaho, Nov. 30 at Florida

2. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Odds: 6-1

Analysis: With Mariota under center, Oregon has scored more than 50 points six times, although one game was vs. Nicholls State of the FCS. He is extremely athletic, but also very accurate as a passer -- when you throw as often as Mariota does without being intercepted, it's not an accident. His biggest remaining test will come Nov. 7 at Stanford, which has a very good pass rush, led by senior Trent Murphy, who is No. 4 on my Hot 100 senior prospects list.

Remaining schedule: Nov. 7 at Stanford, Nov. 16 vs. Utah, Nov. 23 at Arizona, Nov. 29 vs. Oregon State

2a. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

Odds: 6-1

Analysis: TCU coach Gary Patterson, who had Manziel in a few of his high school camps, once told me that Manziel "wasn't the tallest or the fastest, and he didn't throw the prettiest ball, but all he did was win." The Aggies have two losses this season, but neither was Manziel's fault. A&M is the only team this season to score more than 10 points against Alabama, and Manziel put up 41 in the defeat. I think voters will forgive that loss because of what Manziel was able to do against the Tide's NFL-ready defense: 28-of-39, 464 yards, 5 TDs. They call him Johnny Football, but they should call him Houdini. Never have I seen someone with such escapability. He's Doug Flutie but taller. Two things will hurt him with Heisman voters: His offseason activity and the fact that he won last year. But if you take into consideration only what he's done on the field, which are the instructions given to Heisman voters, Manziel might be in a class all his own. In fact, if he and Mariota switched teams, it would be Manziel with an unblemished record.

Remaining schedule: Nov. 2 vs. UTEP, Nov. 9 vs. Mississippi State, Nov. 23 at LSU, Nov. 30 at Missouri

Others in the running:

» Alabama QB AJ McCarron (15-1): The only time McCarron has a chance to post impressive numbers in a game is when the Tide is forced to come from behind, and they've only had to do it once. He could get a chance to play from behind and rack up numbers against LSU or Florida, but it won't be enough to catch the Big 3.

» Ohio State QB Braxton Miller (20-1): He's missed a few games games this season, which hurts his cause. He's equally adept as a passer and runner, and has a very good team around him. Really only has one meaningful game left in a weak Big Ten: vs. Michigan in regular-season finale.

» Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater (70-1): The Cardinals wouldn't be ranked without Bridgewater, but they did lose to Central Florida at home. That can't happen.

» Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch (75-1): He has a unique ability to create, making something happen when his team needs it most. NIU is ranked, undefeated and has beaten two Big Ten teams. The rest of its schedule is what kills his chances.

My Harris Poll vote

My Harris Poll vote this week (and where each team actually landed in the poll):

1. Alabama (1st): Defending national champs deserve No. 1 position until they get beaten.

2. Oregon (2nd): Talented team with unique offensive system, led by quarterback who could run any system.

3. Florida State (3rd): FSU could end up No. 1 because Alabama has two tough games and Oregon has to go to Stanford.

4. Ohio State (4th): The Buckeyes have won FBS-best 19 straight games. Unfortunately, many of those games have come inside a weak Big Ten.

5. Baylor (5th): The only thing keeping the Bears from winning a national title is their defense. Can they stop anyone? On a neutral field, I believe they could compete with Alabama.

6. Stanford (6th): Stanford has terrific athletes. Kevin Hogan is a pretty good quarterback but not at same level as Winston, Mariota and Manziel. Lots of NFL-type prospects on the roster.

7. Miami (7th): The Hurricanes have done the best job with the least amont of talent. Al Golden might be the biggest under-the-radar coach out there.

8. Oklahoma (10th): The Sooners are an extremely well-coached team with very good offensive players. They might be the second-most complete team behind Alabama.

9. LSU (12th): The Tigers lost nine defensive starters to the NFL last year, but they haven't missed a beat. Cam Cameron has done an outstanding job with the offense. They're capable of beating Alabama.

10. Clemson (8th): Clemson has several skilled players on offense, including QB Tajh Boyd and WR Sammy Watkins. The defense is a bit of an Achilles' heel.

Texas on rebound

If there was an award for "Move of the Year," I'd give it to Texas coach Mack Brown for having enough courage to replace defensive coordinator Manny Diaz with Greg Robinson, who had a lot of success in the NFL, winning two Super Bowl rings with the Denver Broncos. Brown basically had to admit he hired the wrong guy. The defense has been the key to the Longhorns' turnaround.

I know Brown's under tremendous pressure, with people still calling for him to be fired, but if I were calling the shots at Texas, I wouldn't even think about replacing him. There's something about winning with class. Brown exemplifies class. And now he's winning again.

Follow Gil Brandt on Twitter _@GilBrandt_.

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