Johnny's Stretch Run For a Second Heisman Trophy Begins Now

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Entering into Thursday, the race for the 2013 Heisman Trophy was seemingly a three man race: Marcus Mariota of Oregon, Jameis Winston of Florida State, and 2012 winner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M. After Oregon's 26-20 loss at Stanford, the race may be down to only two.

For the second year in a row, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel finds himself right in the middle of a Heisman Trophy race many didn't believe he would be a part of at the beginning of the season.  There are still some, like HeismanPundit.com, who still believe he has no shot of winning a second trophy as of November 8th (although they predict he would finish in second place if the vote were held today).  It seems as if every time we doubt Johnny Manziel, he proves us wrong.  And the stage is setting up for him once again.

THE STATS

How does Johnny Manziel's current season statistics compare to his 2012 Heisman Trophy winning season?

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Through 9 games played on the regular season, Johnny is only 2.1 yards per game off his 2012 numbers.  That's only 26 yards fewer in the regular season compared to 2012.  Interestingly, Johnny is expected to out-pace his touchdown total for 2012 with 45 compared to 43.  Already, Johnny has as many passing touchdowns (26) as he did in all of 2012.  With contests upcoming against Mississippi State, LSU, and Missouri in which Johnny is expected to play the entire game, he could certainly finish with more total yards in the regular season in 2013 compared to 2012.

But how does Johnny's season totals compare to the other Heisman Trophy contenders in Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston?

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Compared to the other two contenders, Johnny is throwing for more yards per game, rushing for more yards per game, accumulating almost 50 more total yards per game, and scoring more touchdowns per game.  Johnny will have 500 more total yards than either candidate through 12 games and will have scored more touchdowns if he continues to produce at this pace.

If the season averages weren't enough, just look at how much better Johnny is performing in his team's top contests:

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Jameis Winston had an outstanding performance on the road against Clemson, but neither candidate totaled over 500 yards in both contests like Johnny did (562 and 502 yards).  Johnny also scored 10 touchdowns in those two contests, compared to 5 for Winston and 3 for Mariota.  Just for reference, Alabama is giving up on average 280.9 TOTAL yards per contest (that number drops to 231.3 yards per contest if you exclude the Texas A&M game).  Johnny Manziel scored 35 points on his own against the Alabama defense, while the rest of their schedule has scored a combined 43 points (including an extra 7 points from the Texas A&M game).  Johnny's total yards against Auburn also exceeded what they give up on average (398.9 yards per contest).

The Player

Johnny Manziel is the most electrifying player in college football.  PERIOD.  No one can argue that.  Every single weekend we are left in awe of what he is able to accomplish on the field in an almost easy fashion.  No moment is too big for Johnny Manziel, whether it is returning from a half-game NCAA suspension or leading his team on a 7 play, 56 yard game-winning drive with 2:33 left on the clock on the road at Ole Miss.

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Consider this:  Texas A&M is currently ranked 97th in the country in total defense (as of November 2nd), allowing over 443.1 yards per game.  In comparison, Florida State is ranked 7th (287.6) and Oregon is ranked 27th (359.3).  Without Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M is an average team at best, stuck at 6-6 or 7-5 in the SEC West.  But with Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M has been a contender in the SEC with an 18-4 record in his two years as quarterback.  There is no other player in the country who can elevate a team like that.  There is no other player in the country who coaches and defenses respect more.  Johnny Manziel has put the Texas A&M program on his back and carried them on his own to a Top 15 program in two short years.

THE SET-UP

Here is how the remaining schedule breaks down:

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All eyes will be on Johnny Manziel down the stretch.  It begins this Saturday with a CBS broadcast against Mississippi State, followed by two sure-fire nationally televised games at LSU and at Missouri, both currently top 10 teams.  On the other hand, both Oregon and Florida State do not have any other ranked teams on the schedule (Florida State could face a Top 25 team if they reach the ACC Championship; Oregon is not currently leading their division).

This is Johnny's moment.  It doesn't matter what happened this offseason.  It doesn't matter how many (close) losses Texas A&M has at this point.  All that matters is three nationally televised games.  It is what the voters see at the end of the season.  If Texas A&M wins those three games to finish with an identical regular season record as 2012 (10-2), then there should be no doubt Johnny Manziel leap-frogs into becoming the Heisman front-runner.  It's that easy.

WHAT THE PEOPLE ARE SAYING

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