Heisman Watch 2013: Previewing the Top Contenders' Matchups for Week 14

Sebastian Lena@SP7988Analyst INovember 26, 2013

Heisman Watch 2013: Previewing the Top Contenders' Matchups for Week 14

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    Could Williams be the surprise winner of the Heisman?
    Could Williams be the surprise winner of the Heisman?Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

    With only two weeks remaining in the college football season, we’ve got a good idea of which players will be making the trip to New York for next month’s Heisman Trophy ceremony.

    Following last weekend’s action, two top contenders saw their Heisman candidacies take a serious hit—one even fell completely out of the running. Continuing a string of great play, one running back has made the biggest move of any other player at his position all season long, as far as this award is concerned.

    All in all, there’s been a lot of movement in the last couple of weeks, and it is setting up to be a memorable finish.

    Each of these contenders will be in action this weekend. Given that all but one play on the road and two face a Top 5 opponent, we could very well see more movement come next week’s rankings.

    But for now, let’s take a look at each contender's matchup and how they should fare.

    Author’s Note: The five players chosen are in accordance with ESPN’s Heisman Watch. The points listed under the Expert's Poll for each player are listed here as “Poll Points." The number of first-place votes is listed in parentheses.

5. QB Jordan Lynch (Northern Illinois)

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    Lynch should have no problems putting up numbers on Tuesday.
    Lynch should have no problems putting up numbers on Tuesday.Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

    Poll Points: 21

    Season Stats: 66.3 CMP%, 2,418 YDS, 21 TDs, 5 INTs, 150.5 RAT, 221 CAR, 1,434 YDS, 17 TDs

    Week 14 Matchup: Western Michigan (1-10) at No. 14 Northern Illinois (11-0), Nov. 26, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2

    The Skinny

    It’s about time quarterback Jordan Lynch gets some recognition for the stellar campaign he has put together in 2013.

    The senior has been outstanding both with his arm and his legs. He put that on full display against Toledo last Wednesday, throwing for 202 yards on 17-of-22 passing while adding another 161 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries.

    Don’t expect the Broncos to slow down Lynch’s Heisman candidacy too much.

    Although the team ranks No. 11 against the pass (181.0 YPG), Western Michigan has given up 15 touchdowns through the air and concedes 6.9 yards per attempt. It gets even worse when you consider that the team’s run defense ranks No. 116 (234.1 YPG) and allowed a whopping 27 scores on the ground thus far.

    That’s only music to Lynch’s ears.


    Lynch dominates.

    Even if the Broncos' secondary proves to be a little stingy, Lynch will have more than enough room to make plays with his legs. It wouldn’t be too far-fetched to believe he wouldn’t even need to throw too much in this one.

    Racking up 200 yards on the ground is very likely for Lynch.

    Stock Movement: Rise

4. QB Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M)

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    Is Manziel's dream of winning a second consecutive Heisman all but over?
    Is Manziel's dream of winning a second consecutive Heisman all but over?Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

    Poll Points: 31 (2)

    Season Stats: 69.1 CMP%, 3,537 YDS, 32 TDs, 13 INTs, 174.9 RAT, 122 CAR, 665 YDS, 8 TDs

    Week 14 Matchup: No. 21 Texas A&M (8-3) at No. 5 Missouri (10-1), Nov. 30, 7:45 p.m. ET on ESPN

    The Skinny

    Quarterback Johnny Manziel pretty much ruined any chance of repeating as the Heisman Trophy winner with his performance last weekend against LSU in a 34-10 loss.

    The sophomore had arguably the worst game of his career, throwing for 224 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions on 16-of-41 passing. Manziel was also held inept on the ground, totaling just 54 yards on 12 carries.

    It’s pretty surprising that he still remains among the contenders for the trophy.

    Fortunately, a road contest against the No. 5-ranked Tigers is a perfect opportunity for Manziel to restore his credentials for the award.

    Through 11 games, the secondary has been somewhat of a weakness for a pretty good Missouri defense. The unit ranks No. 115 in the nation (272.8 YPG) and has given up 14 passing touchdowns on the year.

    Can Manziel redeem himself on Saturday?


    Manziel plays himself out of the running. 

    Although the Tigers may give up a lot of yards to opposing passers, the defense also has a habit of forcing turnovers. Missouri ranks fourth in the nation with 18 interceptions.

    That could be a problem for Manziel, who has thrown a pick in five of his last six games for a total of nine in that span.

    Stock Movement: Fall

3. QB AJ McCarron (Alabama)

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    McCarron is making a run toward college football's most-coveted hardware.
    McCarron is making a run toward college football's most-coveted hardware.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Poll Points: 32 (3)

    Season Stats: 68.6 CMP%, 2,399 YDS, 23 TDs, 5 INTs, 165.1 RAT

    Week 14 Matchup: No. 1 Alabama (11-0) at No. 4 Auburn (10-1), Nov. 30, 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS

    The Skinny

    Don’t look now, but quarterback AJ McCarron is in a great position to sneak away with the Heisman.

    The senior rebounded from a disappointing Week 12 performance to lead the Crimson Tide to a 49-0 victory over Chattanooga last weekend. In limited playing time, he threw for 171 yards and two touchdowns on 13-of-16 passing.

    Although Alabama’s defense will have its hands tied with the Tigers offense, McCarron should find picking apart the Auburn secondary a lot easier.

    Entering Week 14, the unit ranks No. 100 against the pass (253.7 YPG). Furthermore, the Tigers have allowed a little more than 7.0 yards per attempt while only intercepting 12 passes.

    In a road game that could be decided by who holds onto the ball the longest, McCarron and his accurate passing have the advantage.


    McCarron plays great. 

    Over his career, McCarron has been largely known as nothing more than a game manager. He has successfully erased that tag with sensational performances against Texas A&M and LSU in two of the Tide’s biggest wins this season.

    Don’t expect that to change against Auburn.

    Stock Movement: Rise

2. RB Andre Williams (Boston College)

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    Williams (left) is making a serious case for the Heisman.
    Williams (left) is making a serious case for the Heisman.Darren McCollester/Getty Images

    Poll Points: 37

    Season Stats: 320 CAR, 2,073 YDS, 16 TDs

    Week 14 Matchup: Boston College (7-4) at Syracuse (5-6), Nov. 30, 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN3

    The Skinny

    After weeks of turning the other cheek, the national media has no choice but to finally give running back Andre Williams his due.

    The senior has been downright unstoppable all season long. He leads the nation in rushing and averages a mind-numbing 188.5 yards per game on the ground.

    In fact, Williams has been so dominant during the Eagles’ four-game winning streak that he has racked up more yards during that span (1,063) than nine other teams have rushed for in the entire season.

    The Orange shouldn’t slow him down.

    Sure, the team ranks No. 28 against the run (135.0 YPG). However, Syracuse has already given up 17 touchdowns on the ground this season.

    It shouldn’t get any easier against Williams.

    With just one game remaining for the voters, it will be tough for him to do enough to gain serious traction to win the award. But it’s more than likely he can stamp his ticket to the ceremony in New York City.


    Williams keeps rolling. 

    This guy can’t be stopped. The Orange could put their entire depth chart out on defense, and Williams will still top the century mark before halftime.

    A sixth performance of 200 yards or more isn’t out of the question for Williams.

    Stock Movement: Rise

1. QB Jameis Winston (Florida State)

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    This is Winston's trophy to lose.
    This is Winston's trophy to lose.Jeff Gammons/Getty Images

    Poll Points: 68 (11)

    Season Stats: 69.6 CMP%, 3,163 YDS, 32 TDs, 7 INT, 194.5 RAT, 62 CAR, 126 YDS, 3 TDs

    Week 14 Matchup: No. 2 Florida State (11-0) at Florida (4-7), Nov. 30, noon ET on ESPN

    The Skinny

    It’s looking more and more like the Heisman Trophy is quarterback Jameis Winston’s to lose.

    Although his accuracy wavered a bit last weekend, the redshirt freshman still tossed four touchdown passes and 225 yards on 14-of-25 passing in limited action. His efforts went a long way to help the Seminoles record a comfortable win, 80-14, over Idaho.

    Next up, Winston and Florida State take on a Gators squad that has lost six straight and is fresh off a shocking loss to the FCS’ Georgia Southern, 26-20.

    However, the team’s secondary is no joke. Through 11 games, the unit ranks No. 3 against the pass (157.7 YPG). Furthermore, Florida has allowed a nation-low six passing touchdowns on 48.6 percent passing.

    This is easily the toughest secondary that Winston has faced in his young career.

    While getting a win should be no issue, can he maintain his status as Heisman frontrunner?


    Winston plays decent.

    Expect the Seminoles to favor the run heavily. Especially after the Gators just got gashed by over 400 yards on the ground a week ago.

    If Winston throws, he should play decently. But it’s not likely he’ll put up the impressive statistics we’ve become accustomed to in recent weeks.

    Stock Movement: Same

    All stats and rankings used in this article are courtesy of NCAA.com.

    For complete coverage and everything college football, you can reach Sebastian on Facebook, on Twitter and via email at Sebastian.LenaBR@gmail.com.