By Brad Carroll
There will be very little intrigue at Saturday's Heisman trophy ceremony, as Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is a near-guarantee to take the biggest symbol of college football greatness back to Tallahassee. The leader of the No. 1 team in the nation has had the best season, by far, of any player in the country and it would be a grave injustice if he didn't win the Heisman.It's no surprise that all three of our college football experts here at GameDay, me, Craig and Glenn, have selected Winston to win the top prize in the land. Possibly, the bigger surprises will be how the vote plays out, with how much Winston wins by and how the 2-through-6 slots work out, being something to follow.
The Heisman trophy presentation will cap a short but always historic day of college football, as the lead-in is the always-riveting Army-Navy matchup that afternoon. We preview and pick against the spread that game below, along with my Heisman trophy ballot.
Heisman Trophy Ballot
1. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
There's been years where the Heisman trophy was all but sewn up before the ceremony, but this might be the first where there is absolutely no doubt who is going to win. In fact, if someone doesn't vote Winston the Heisman winner, their voting credentials should be brought into question. There is no way Winston doesn't win this award. Now, that has some to do with the complete void of other viable candidates, but there is no doubt Winston earned college football's biggest award. The only obstacle that stood in his way was if he was charged with sexual assault after that recently-finishing investigation. He wasn't, so the award is his. Winston has thrown for 3,820 yards with 38 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He's added four more touchdowns on the ground. He's led the Seminoles to the national championship game with the second best scoring offense in the country. This is as easy a choice as it comes, and explains why Winston is listed as a -15000 favorite, meaning you have to bet $15,000 to win $100. The field is +2500, where a $1 bet gets you $2,500.
2. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
He might have picked up some first-place votes after Winston had his legal troubles, but the Alabama loss to Auburn at the end of the regular season destroyed any chance McCarron had at winning the Heisman. The case for McCarron has been all he does is win, so when he loses a game, he loses his luster. McCarron has thrown for 2,676 yards with 26 touchdowns and just five interceptions. He did win the Maxwell award Thursday as the nation's most outstanding player, beating out Winston. But McCarron will have to settle for ending his career as runner-up in the final Heisman voting and being a two-time national champion. Not a bad career at all.
3. Andre Williams, RB, Boston College
He jumped up most Heisman boards, and possibly to the top of some, especially with the Winston investigation gaining more steam, by rushing for 1,235 in the five games before the regular season finale. That's right, he averaged 247 rushing yards a game over that span. But Williams lost his shot at the top award by rushing nine times for 29 yards in a 34-31 loss to Syracuse in the finale, not to mention Winston wasn't going to be charged with a crime. Williams had five games where he rushed for over 200 yards and has 2,102 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns overall. He won the Doak Walker Award Thursday as the nation's best running back, the first Boston College player to do so.
4. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Manziel's season should prove to everyone just how hard it is to win the Heisman trophy, let alone twice. It makes what former Ohio State running back Archie Griffin did so amazingly impressive. Manziel didn't come anywhere near this season to what he did on the field last year, but was still the most electrifying player in college football. In fact, he was in the Heisman race until LSU and Missouri shut him down in back-to-back weeks to end the regular season. Still, Manziel had a tremendous stats year. He passed for 3,732 yards with 33 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. He rushed for another eight scores. He didn't have the marquee victory like he did in last year's magical season, becoming the first freshman to win the Heisman, and that hurts him.
5. Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
Even though Manziel and McCarron are higher on my list of Heisman trophy candidates, it was Mason who was named the SEC offensive player of the year this week. Considering all of the talent in the conference, that is a huge honor for Mason. He burst onto the national scene individually a little late, however, rushing for 304 yards and four touchdowns as Auburn beat Missouri in the conference title game last week. Mason has 1,621 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns this season. He's hurt also in his candidacy because of his quarterback, Nick Marshall, being a huge part of the Tigers offense. Williams is ahead of Mason for doing more with less this season, as he was Boston College's only true offensive weapon.
6. Jordan Lynch, QB, Nothern Illinois
Lynch is a nice story and it's good to have a non-BCS school's athlete represented at the Heisman trophy presentation, but the Northern Illinois quarterback shouldn't get much support. He put up great numbers against sub-par competition, throwing for 2,676 yards with 23 touchdowns and seven interceptions and rushing for another 1,881 yards and 22 touchdowns. If he did that on a BCS team he would be the easy choice for the Heisman. But the biggest knock on Lynch was from his performance against Florida State last year in the Orange Bowl. In that game, Lynch was 15-of-41 for 176 yards and had 44 rushing yards on 23 carries. He came into that game with similar numbers as this year. So, Lynch is a good story, but hasn't proven he can play well against better competition.
Navy vs. Army at Philadelphia, 3 p.m., CBS
The Spread: Navy -13; Army +13
Brad's Breakdown: There are a lot of rivalry games in college football, and all of sports for that matter, but nothing truly comes close to the annual Army-Navy game. It's cliche to say records don't matter when it comes to these type games, but for once, it's true. Even though Navy is the better team and has dominated this series for a little more than a decade, no one would be surprised if Army finally pulled off the upset. But Navy should win this game, something it's done for the past 11 years. This 114th meeting between the two schools has one team (Navy) on the rise, while the other (Army) still struggling to find its identity on the football field. Navy is 7-4 and will play in a bowl game for the 10th time in the past 11 seasons. The Mids have won three in a row and four of their last five, including a win over Pittsburgh and a close loss to Notre Dame. Army is 3-8 and won't play in a bowl game again this season. The Black Knights have lost four straight games. While nothing would surprise, Navy should be able to pull away in the fourth quarter for a two-touchdown victory.
Brad's Pick: Navy 28, Army 14
Craig's Pick: Navy 38, Army 17
Glenn's Pick: Navy 28, Army 13