Johnny Manziel's Updated 2013 Heisman Outlook After Win over SMU

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer ISeptember 22, 2013

Right now, Johnny Manziel should be the Heisman front-runner. 

After the 42-13 victory over SMU on Saturday, Manziel has completed 70 percent of his passes for 1,228 yards (11.2 yards per pass attempt) while tossing 12 touchdowns to four interceptions in four games.

Granted, Texas A&M isn't undefeated like Marcus Mariota's Oregon Ducks, Teddy Bridgewater's Louisville Cardinals or Tajh Boyd's Clemson Tigers, but the loss to No. 1 Alabama shouldn't be held against Manziel.

After all, the Crimson Tide had to score seven touchdowns to beat Manziel and the Aggies in the 49-42 nail-biter on Sept. 14. Manziel had a school-record 464 passing yards while tossing five touchdowns to two interceptions. The dual-threat also ran for 98 yards.

Bridgewater leads Manziel in several statistical categories, including yards per pass attempt, quarterback rating, touchdown-to-interception ratio and completion percentage. But the difference is razor-thin between the two quarterbacks, and Bridgewater hasn't had to play Alabama, while coasting against Ohio, Eastern Kentucky, Kentucky and Florida International.

And that's where Manziel distances from Bridgewater, Mariota or Boyd so far this season: He's faced tougher competition. Not only that, he played pretty darn well against the No. 1 team in the country.

As TeamRankings.com points out, Texas A&M has a more difficult strength of schedule than Louisville, Clemson or Oregon at this point. For the entire 2013 season, A&M edges Clemson in strength of schedule, as Phil Steele noted in March.

Until other Heisman candidates prove they can excel against top competition this season, or until Manziel lays an egg against a poor quality opponent, Manziel is my front-runner. It's as simple as that.

Mariota comes in second place for me at this point, with Bridgewater a close third, and Boyd fourth.

Mariota faces ranked opponents Washington, UCLA and Stanford this season. Boyd faces Florida State and South Carolina. Bridgewater doesn't play any teams that are currently ranked. Manziel still has Ole Miss and LSU on the slate.

 

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