1. Clemson QB Tajh Boyd (Sr.)
Last Week (W, 49-14 vs. Syracuse): 20-for-27, 455 yards, 5 TD, 2 INT
Season: 93-for-141 (66.0%), 1,449 yards, 14 TD, 2 INT (154 rush yards, 4 TD)
Boyd remains in the driver’s seat one week before the colossal matchup between Clemson and Florida State. That game will go a long way toward clearing up both the national title and Heisman races. Boyd’s season-opening victory over Georgia is still one of the top wins of the season, but some competition has showed up of late. With conference play heating up, there will be lots of opportunities for other candidates to stake their claim. One win over Boston College is all that remains between Boyd and a national stage to cement his stake on the Heisman trophy.
2. Oregon QB Marcus Mariota (So.)
Last Week (W, 57-16 vs. Colorado): 16-for-27, 355 yards, 5 TD (43 rush yards, 2 TD)
Season: 76-for-134 (56.7%), 1,358 yards, 14 TD (338 rush yards, 7 TD)
The first challenge for the Ducks is finally here. Washington pushed Stanford last week and should provide the first stern test for the Ducks this season. The Huskies lead the conference in total defense and are in the top three in scoring defense in the Pac-12. This will be the first road game for Oregon since a Week 2 matchup against Virginia. Mariota’s numbers up to this point have come against inferior competition, but if he is able to light up Washington on the road, then he will prove that he has been deserving of the attention he has gotten up to this point.
3. Florida State QB Jameis Winston (Fr.)
Last Week (W, 63-0 vs. Maryland): 23-for-32, 393 yards, 5 TD (24 rush yards)
Season: 90-for-123 (73.2%), 1,441 yards, 17 TD, 2 INT (135 rush yards, 2 TD)
The Seminoles have one of the most impressive wins of the season through their dismantling of Maryland last week. Winston has the week off to prepare for Clemson next week in what will be one of the most important games of the season. The Tigers will be only the second ranked team Florida State has faced this season and will represent the toughest test of the year for the Seminoles. If Winston is able to lead Florida State over Clemson next week, then he will put himself in place to become the second freshman to win the Heisman.
4. Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater (Sr.)
Last Week (W, 30-7 vs. Temple): 25-for-35, 348 yards, 2 TD
Season: 104-for-145 (71.7%), 1,562 yards, 16 TD, INT
Bridgewater and Louisville continue to pummel inferior competition, which is not good for either’s chances for postseason accolades. Only Louisville and Houston are undefeated in the American Athletic conference, so the chances of Bridgewater facing another ranked team in the regular season is slim. Bridgewater may well be the best player in the country and he could be the No. 1 pick in next year’s NFL Draft, but unless he plays another credible team, his Heisman chances will be almost nonexistent.
5. Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel (So.)
Last Week: BYE
Season: 100-for-140 (71.4%), 1,489 yards, 14 TD, 4 INT (314 rush yards, 3 TD)
Manziel continues to put up good numbers in what has become a somewhat forgotten campaign following the loss to Alabama. The Aggies are still ranked in the Top 10, but there seems to be less attention on Manziel than there was heading into the season. If he wants to take home the award, then he will have to make a statement. He failed to make the plays necessary to beat the Crimson Tide, but if he is able to best LSU, then he will have the Aggies in position to take the SEC West should Alabama stumble.