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BCS shakeup impacts Heisman race for Manziel, Bridgewater, others

By Chip Patterson | College Football/Basketball Writer

Bridgewater's Heisman chances, unlike his draft stock, were tied to Louisville's performance as a team. (USATSI)
Teddy Bridgewater's Heisman chances, unlike his draft stock, were tied to Louisville's record this season. (USATSI)

Heading into the weekend, the CBSSports.com Heisman Rankings included Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota at No. 1, with Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd and Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater rounding out the Top 5.

By Sunday morning, only Mariota and Winston were still standing as the frontrunners for the Heisman Trophy.

Manziel's second loss of the season likely eliminates Texas A&M from BCS title competition, hurting his spotlight for key November matchups. While a loss does not change his status as arguably the best player in college football, voters will likely choose an undefeated or one-loss quarterback ahead of Johnny Football on their ballot. His stat-stuffer performances and heroics already recorded will likely result in an invitation to New York City, but Manziel will need some help to climb back into this race.

As the redshirt senior quarterback (and best player) on a BCS title contender, Tajh Boyd's resume for the Heisman Trophy was strong. But there were a lot of eyes on Death Valley Saturday night that saw Florida State's defense only allow a single score before garbage time. Like Manziel, Boyd can bounce back in the final month of the regular season and enter the mix as a finalist. But his chances of winning the trophy are slim as long as undefeated BCS title contenders are in the conversation.

Louisville's loss, on the other hand, likely ended Teddy Bridgewater's chances to win the Heisman Trophy. The Cardinals don't have another must-see game on their schedule, and the loss to UCF could even keep the team from winning the American and getting back to a BCS bowl game. Bridgewater's NFL stock was set before the season, and he will continue to wow fans and scouts alike in 2013. But Bridgewater's Heisman chances, like Louisville's BCS title hopes, were tied to an undefeated season. Whether that is fair is up for debate, but it is the way the Heisman electorate will views the race.

So who are the likely candidates to sneak into the race in these final weeks? The list should begin with Derek Carr, Bryce Petty and AJ McCarron. Both players are quarterbacking undefeated teams, and while Fresno State may not be in BCS title contention they are the most likely BCS buster. Petty's numbers are quite impressive thanks to driving Baylor's offense, but his Heisman chances are tied closer to the Bears' success as a team. McCarron does not compare statistically to Carr and Petty, but the attention to Alabama's senior quarterback will ramp up now that the Crimson Tide and Missouri are the only undefeated teams left in the SEC.

Brett Hundley, Zach Mettenberger and Aaron Murray were all quarterbacks tabbed as the "next ones up" should the landscape change at the top. But after all three suffered losses on Saturday, Heisman voters are looking elsewhere for players to watch. This could be beneficial for Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch and Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion if more upsets result in a seat at the table.

Because of the political nature the Heisman Trophy race, intangibles like stage and status matter. It doesn't seem like the Heisman Trophy is even won anymore. Favorites are named in August, and one-by-one we go through a process of elimination like it's the board game "Guess Who?." With high-profile upsets in Week 8, Manziel, Boyd and Bridgewater were the next faces flipped down.

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