Braxton Miller

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

1. Florida State QB Jameis Winston (Fr.)

Last Week (W, 37-7, vs. Florida): 19-for-31, 327 yards, 3 TD, INT

Season: 218-for-317 (68.8%), 3,490 yards, 35 TD, 8 INT (134 rushing yards, 3 TD)

With Alabama’s loss in the Iron Bowl, Florida State became the top-ranked team in the nation and Winston remained the Heisman favorite. There simply has not been a more valuable player to his team than Winston so, barring a complete disaster against Duke, “Famous Jameis” will take home the trophy. After a promising and close race through most of the year, Winston clearly pulled away from the pack, which will win him the Heisman. Off-the-field issues could sway some voters, though at this point it’s hard to find someone else worthy of a first-place vote.

 

2. Boston College RB Andre Williams (Sr.)

Last week (L, 31-34, at Syracuse): 9 attempts, 29 yards, TD

Season: 329 attempts, 2,102 yards, 17 TD

Williams was injured in the first quarter of the Eagles’ loss to Syracuse on a 26-yard touchdown run and did not return. Though he was largely ineffective until that point, Boston College’s collapse proved Williams’ value to this team and its offense. Williams’ 2013 campaign fell 84 yards short of fourth place in single season rushing in FBS history but he will have a chance to move into that spot in the Eagles’ bowl game.  

 

3. Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch (Sr.)

Last week (W, 33-14, vs. Western Michigan): 5-for-17, 39 yards, TD (321 rush yards, 3 TD)

Season: 212-for-329 (64.4%), 2,457 yards, 22 TD, 5 INT (1,755 rush yards, 20 TD)

Lynch struggled throwing the ball in the Huskies’ latest win, but more than made up for it with his feet. In Northern Illinois’ second half of the season, Lynch scored 16 touchdowns on the ground and ran for 1,139 yards while adding nine touchdowns through the air. His rushing yards total and touchdown total already top that of Mark Ingram’s 2009 Heisman-winning campaign. If he had done this in a major conference, Lynch probably would win the Heisman but the Huskies’ weak schedule can’t be ignored. While he won’t win the Heisman, Lynch could deliver Northern Illinois’ second consecutive BCS berth with a victory in the MAC title game over Bowling Green on Friday.

 

4. Ohio State QB Braxton Miller (Jr.)

Last week (W, 42-41 @ Michigan): 6-for-15, 133 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception(153 rush yards, 3 touchdowns)

Season: 138-for-210 (65.7%), 1,759 yards, 21 TD, 5 INT (891 rush yards, 8 TD)

With Alabama’s loss to Auburn, Miller now has the Buckeyes in position to play for the national title, at least for the time being. Ohio State has now won 24 straight games and Miller is a major reason why. Despite missing two games this season due to injury, Miller threw for six more touchdowns than in 2012, including 15 in his last six games. Miller has also picked up his game on the ground, rushing for 481 yards and six touchdowns in the past three contests. His five-touchdown performance against Michigan should be remembered for years to come by the Buckeyes faithful, regardless of how the season ends.

 

5. Arizona RB Ka’Deem Carey (Jr.)

Last week (L, 58-21, at Arizona State): 32 attempts, 157 yards, 1 TD

Season: 322 attempts, 1,716 yards, 17 TD (26 receptions, 173 yards, TD)

Carey finished the regular season with yet another impressive performance, and claimed Pac-12 Player of the Year honors despite his team’s struggles. The loss was a huge letdown after Arizona’s win over Oregon, but somewhat expected by such a consistently inconsistent squad. Carey won’t win the Heisman, but his numbers over the past two seasons combined are impressive (more than 4,000 total yards and 42 touchdowns). He won’t win the Heisman, but the Doak Walker Award for the top running back is pretty much a toss-up between him and BC’s Williams.

A recording of a private conversation Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini had two years ago was released this week but, despite the profanity-laced tirade becoming public, Pelini's job is secure.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini’s profanity-laced tirade made national headlines earlier this week and now he’s doing what he can to salvage his image.

Pelini, who was recorded criticizing the Cornhusker fanbase, issued a formal apology asking for forgiveness on Tuesday.

“I think our fans would understand the situation, the circumstances regarding this,” Pelini said in the Big Ten coaches’ teleconference. “I think that I’ve built enough points with our fans over the last five years… to earn some forgiveness for something that was made in a private setting. I think people will understand this isn’t representative of how I feel.” 

The administration at Nebraska silenced any rumors of possible disciplinary action on Wednesday when they voiced their support for Pelini and declared the matter closed.

Texas A&M raises record amount in donations

It looks like Texas A&M’s first season in the SEC was just as successful off the field as it was on it.

This week, the university announced it had raised more than $740 million in donations in the past fiscal year. That number is composed of gifts to the university, private grants and donations to several different university foundations. The total far surpasses rival Texas’ roughly $400 million in donations over the same time period.

The funds are already being put to use. The Aggies recently completed a new football-only weight room and athletic nutrition center and have announces plans for a $450 million renovation of Kyle field that will raises seating capacity to 102,500.

Ohio State QB controversy a good thing

The Buckeyes have a good problem on their hands.

After Urban Meyer’s Heisman candidate at quarterback, Braxton Miller, went down with a sprained knee ligament in Week 2, senior backup Kenny Guiton stepped in and stole the spotlight, throwing for 276 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for 92 more in a 52-34 win over Cal last weekend.

But with Miller ready to return for the Buckeyes, Meyer has a tough decision to make. Guiton has been nearly flawless since taking over as the starter, throwing for seven touchdowns and just one interception. Miller, however, is coming off a phenomenal season last year and was expected to be one of the top quarterbacks in the country this year.

Vanderbilt dismisses WR Boyd

Vanderbilt wide receiver Chris Boyd has been dismissed from the football program after pleading guilty to his role in attempting to cover up the rape of an unconscious student.

Boyd was Vanderbilt’s second-leading receiver last season, hauling in 50 passes for 774 yards and five touchdowns.

Originally charged with a felony, the junior receiver plead guilty to the misdemeanor charge in exchange for agreeing to testify against former teammates who were also involved in the campus dormitory rape.

Minnesota coach fine despite game-day seizure

Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill commended his players and staff for winning on Saturday, despite losing their head coach mid-game after he suffered a seizure.

Kill, who has epilepsy, has had multiple seizures while on the sidelines since taking over as head coach of the Gophers in 2011. He says he has never considered coaching from the press box and continues to have the full support of the administration as he attempts to bring Minnesota football back to national prominence.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

1. QB Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M)

Manziel, possibly reluctantly, returns to College Station after an SEC recordbreaking 2012 campaign in which he became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. Though Manziel showed a lack of maturity this off-season and defenses will be able to better gameplan for him, Manziel could join Archie Griffin as the only twotime Heisman winners ever.

 

2. QB Braxton Miller (Ohio State)

Miller was stellar in his second year for Griffin’s alma mater, throwing for 15 touchdowns and only six interceptions while rushing for 13 more scores. As a result of his impact, Ohio State was the only undefeated team in the FBS at year’s end, and probably would’ve played for a national title if they weren’t ineligible due to NCAA sanctions. Miller is one of the clear favorites to win the Heisman, alongside Manziel. 

 

Jadeveon Clowney
DE, South Carolina

Clowney enters the season as NFL-ready as any player in recent history. If he plays at a historic level and leads the Gamecocks to the next level of success, he has a legitimate shot to win the Heisman, having finished sixth in voting in 2012. Clowney strikes fear in all he plays against, and thanks to the media buzz from his hit in the 2013 Outback Bowl against Michigan, has become a household name to even casual football viewers.

 

Teddy Bridgewater
QB, Louisville

Bridgewater’s best shot at the Heisman is to continue his play from the Sugar Bowl and he has all the tools do so, as evidenced by his $10 million insurance policy. Louisville’s weak schedule as a member of the hodgepodge American Athletic Conference should boost Bridgewater’s numbers, but will also make a perfect regular season imperative if he is to win the Heisman.

 

TJ Yeldon
RB, Alabama

Yeldon is somewhat of a darkhorse pick, but should continue the line of Nick Saban coached running backs who have had stellar seasons as the featured back. As a freshman in 2012 Yeldon rushed for 1,108 yards and 12 touchdowns despite being the backup to Eddie Lacy, the 61 stpick in this year’s NFL Draft. Now Yeldon is expected to more touches, which opens up the possibility of winning the Tide’s second Heisman.

Manti Te’o, Senior LB, Notre Dame
Last Week: Six tackles
Season: 96 tackles and six interceptions
Te’o and Notre Dame needed help and they got it. Stanford and Baylor both won to put Notre Dame atop the rankings and in position for the national championship. The win also puts Te’o on the No. 1 team in the country. He is a sure bet as an All-American candidate and will be carrying the banner of the defense into New York for the Heisman ceremony. The only thing that is working against him at this point is USC. The Trojans have had nowhere near the kind of season they expected and are now looking th Holiday Bowl right in the face. Losing to Notre Dame would be its second loss to the Irish in three years. Those two programs are going in different directions: USC is falling apart at the seams while Notre Dame is making its long-awaited return to national prominence. Its return is being led by Te’o, which gives him as good a chance at taking the award as any defensive player in the past few years.

Johnny Manziel, Freshman QB, Texas A&M
Last Week: 14-for-20 (70 percent) for 267 yards three TDs and one interception. 16 rushes for 100 yards (6.3 yards per carry) and two TDs
Season: 241-for-356 (67.7 percent) for 3047 yards 21 TDs and seven interceptions. 172 rushes for 1114 yards (6.5 yards per carry) and 17 TDs
Manziel has skyrocketed onto the Heisman scene with his performance agaisnt Alabama. Two weeks ago the freshman completed 77 percent of his passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for another 92 yards. He is now among the leaders for the Heisman, with Kansas State and Oregon losing Saturday. Manziel’s loss to Florida and ugly performance against LSU aren’t being mentioned in the wake of his stellar game against Alabama. Although, without a confernece championship game, he will be sitting at home on the last week of the season while others are still playing high profile games.


Collin Klein, Senior QB, Kansas State
Last Week: 27-for-50 (54 percent) for 286 yards two TDs and three interceptions. 17 rushes for 39 yards
Season: 172-for-258 (66 percent) for 2306 yards 14 TDs and six interceptions. 171 rushes for 787 yards and 20 TDs
Baylor crushed Kansas State’s dream of a national championship and put a major dent in Klein’s Heisman campaign. Klein, who threw three interceptions against the Bears, could still be in the lead for the Heisman, but it is razor-thin. He looked great early, but it’s a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world and he has to produce. The senior has a week off to prepare for the season finale against Texas in what has become a major game. A loss will cost Kansas State the conference title and an automatic berth in a BCS bowl game. Texas’ defense has been playing better of late and will also have extra days to prepare. Beat Texas and look good doing it, and the Heisman likely goes to Klein. Lose, and he has to watch it slip away along with so many other things from this season.

Braxton Miller, Sophomore QB, Ohio State
Last Week: 10-for-18 (56 percent) for 97 yards. 23 rushes for 48 yards (2.1 yards per carry)
Season: 134-for-236 (57 percent) for 1850 yards 14 TDs and six intercpetions. 207 rushes for 1214 yards (5.9 ayrds per carry) and 13 TDs
Miller was caught in a defensive slugfest against Wisconsin and was not able to put up very impressive numbers. Despite that, Ohio State was able to come away with another close win. This was Ohio State’s sixth game decided by a single posession and second overtime win in the past four games. Miller’s lines at times aren’t impressive, but he is one of the primary reasons for Ohio State’s perfect record this season, and has been very explosive and dangerous at times. Even with Ohio State out of the spotlight completely due to the NCAA probation, people will always pay attention when Ohio State plays. People will pay extra attention Saturday when the Buckeyes play arch-rival Michigan. Miller needs to put on a show.


Kenjon Barner, Senior RB, Oregon
Last Week: 21 rushes for 66 yards (3 yards per carry)
Season: 220 rushes for 1426 yards (6.5 yards per carry) and 19 TDs
Since running for 321 yards against USC, Barner has been held in check rushing for 131 yards in his past two games combined. With Oregon’s loss to Stanford, it no longer controls its own destiny in the Pac-12, either. Stanford has to lose to UCLA in order for Oregon to have a chance. Meanwhile, the Ducks still have to take care of business against a nasty Oregon State team that has surprised a lot of people this season. Barner has gotten it done in other games this season and still has a chance at possibly two games if Stanford goes down. He is now the one that needs help in order to land college football biggest prize. If he can explode for a big game against Oregon State, then he has a chance. He is still one of the most explosive players in the country, but he has to find a way to break loose for some big plays. He’s shown that he can do it, now he just has to execute.

National Notebook

Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson (5) is tackled by Miami linebacker Eddie Johnson during the first half of a game at Soldier Field Saturday, Oct. 6 in Chicago.
Photo Credit: The Associated Press

As college football heads closer to November, the competition is heating up. Saturday’s games will have major implications on how the standings look in December. Let’s take a look at some of the national notes heading into the weekend.

• The big news of the week was the arrest of former LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu in Baton Rouge. Mathieu, nicknamed the “Honey Badger,” was arrested along with three other former players for possession of and intent to distribute marijuana, according to reports. Mathieu was a Heisman Trophy finalist last season but was kicked off the team in the summer for failing multiple drug tests. He is still taking classes at LSU. 

• Ohio State sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller will be ready to play when the Buckeyes visit Penn State this weekend. Miller was taken to a Columbus hospital after taking a hit in the third quarter of Ohio State’s win over Purdue last Saturday. Miller practiced all week and claims it’s nothing more than a sore neck.

• In similar news, Notre Dame sophomore quarterback Everett Golson will start Saturday at Oklahoma. Golson sat out last weekend’s victory over Brigham Young after suffering a concussion the week before against Stanford. Golson cleared post-concussion tests Monday and is set to go for Saturday’s highly anticipated game.

• Keeping with the theme of quarterback health, Oregon State’s sophomore signal caller Sean Mannion will return to the field versus Washington this weekend just three weeks after having knee surgery to repair an injured meniscus. The Beavers have become the surprise team in college football, starting the season undefeated and climbing all the way to No. 7 in the BCS.

• Michigan running back Fitzgerald Toussaint has been sentenced after pleading guilty to DUI prior to the season. The junior will have to take alcohol awareness classes, pay fines and is prone to random drug and alcohol tests.

• Oregon defensive tackle Isaac Remington will play versus Colorado this Saturday after Eugene prosecutors decided not to charge the senior with DUI. Remington was held out of the Ducks’ victory over Arizona State last Thursday night. Remington has 12 tackles on the season.

• Ohio State and Oregon have agreed to a home-and-home series starting in 2020, when the Buckeyes will visit Eugene. The Ducks last faced the Buckeyes in the 2010 Rose Bowl, resulting in a 26-17 Ohio State victory.

• Southern Mississippi quarterback Anthony Alford’s mother, Lawanda Ann, was arrested after getting into an argument with another fan regarding her son’s poor play against Marshall last Saturday. After winning 12 games last season, the Golden Eagles are currently sitting at 0-7.

• North Carolina senior wide receiver Erik Highsmith might be facing some penalties after reportedly plagiarizing an article about poultry, which was written by an 11-year-old for a blogging site. The Tar Heels’ program is already serving a one-year bowl ban for a separate academic scandal. Pretty fowl.

• Massachusetts head coach Charley Molnar took a scare tactic route to award walk-ons Daniel Maynes and Robert O’Connor full scholarships. Molnar had the entire team in the locker room when two police officers walked in with manila folders, calling for Maynes and O’Connor. The players hesitantly came to the front only to open their envelopes and see they had been awarded scholarships.

• Idaho State head coach Mike Kramer has been suspended for the team’s game versus Montana this weekend and reprimanded by the University. As reported last week, Kramer is being investigated by the police for pushing a player to the ground in practice. 

Mike Gillislee - Senior Running Back, Florida Gators

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

1. Collin Klein - Senior QB, Kansas State
Last Week: 16-24 (67 percent) for 187 yards. 25 rushes for 105 yards (4.2 yards per carry) and three TDs.
Season: 79-118 (67 percent) for 1074 yards for seven TDs and two INTs. 98 rushes for 510 yards (5.2 yards per carry) and 10 TDs.

With West Virginia falling on its face against Texas Tech last week, Klein has vaulted to the top of the Heisman rankings. Again, his numbers aren’t off the wall, but he simply continues to get things done. He had just his second game without a passing touchdown, but he made up for it with his rushing performance. He rushed for over 100 yards for the second straight game and had three touchdowns for the first time since Kansas State’s crushing of Miami. Klein’s consistency will be put to the test this weekend against the explosiveness of the West Virginia offense. Fortunately for Klein, he should have no problem moving the ball against the Mountaineers. A win could cement Klein as the Heisman frontrunner with a little over a month to play.

2. Manti Te’o - Senior LB, Notre Dame
Last Week: 11 tackles.
Season: 57 tackles and three INTs.

Notre Dame has held its last five opponents under 20 points and last week Stanford’s only touchdown came on a defensive score. Stanford’s 148 yards rushing are the seconded highest total given up by the Irish defense this season, which has yet to allow over 200 yards on the ground. Te’o continues to be the primary defender for Notre Dame and had his nose in the middle of the goal line stand that kept the Irish undefeated for at least another week. It’s not enough for Notre Dame to keep winning, but it has to keep shutting teams down and dominating up front. The Irish offense isn’t exactly dynamic and explosive, but its defense is allowing only nine points per game, second only to Alabama. The Irish have played much more explosive teams than the Tide and will continue to with Oklahoma and USC still to come. If Notre Dame can lock down those offenses, Te’o will have the strongest resume for a defensive player since Ndamukong Suh in 2009.

3. Geno Smith - Senior QB, West Virginia
Last Week: 29-55 (53 percent) for 275 yards and one TD.
Season: 195-259 (75 percent) for 2271 yards and 25 TDs.

It finally happened. West Virginia’s offense hit a bump in the road, stalling out against the Red Raiders. This was an offensive system the folks in Lubbock were familiar with and it showed as Tech had an answer for everything the Mountaineers did on offense. West Virginia’s 14 points were a season low, but not by a huge margin. It was held to 31 by Maryland, and going back to last season, has been held in check more times than it probably should be. But Smith still has a chance to recover and become the front-runner for the Heisman again. First, a matchup against the toughest team in the Big 12 awaits in Morgantown this weekend. That’s if he can light up Kansas State, something no one has been able to do since Texas A&M did last season. But if he continues to struggle, his campaign will suffer a monumental setback.

4. Braxton Miller - Sophomore QB, Ohio State
Last Week: 13-24 (54 percent) for 211 yards and two TDs. 23 rushes for 149 yards (6.5 yards per carry) and one TD.
Season: 96-159 (60 percent) for 1271 yards, 11 TDs and four INTs. 129 rushes for 912 yards (7 yards per carry) and nine TDs.

Miller is a one-man wrecking crew for Ohio State. He had to be last week as the Buckeye defense could not stop two-win Indiana. He is always dangerous with the ball in his hands, but it’s a different story once it leaves his hands. Though he has only thrown four interceptions, he has completed less than 60 percent of his passes in four of his seven games this season. The schedule continues to help Ohio State as it faces two of the worst teams in the Big Ten over the next three weeks. But Penn State can be dangerous on the road, and games against Wisconsin and Michigan wait to close out the season. What will hurt Miller is that he will not play during the final week of the season, due to NCAA sanctions.

5. Mike Gillislee - Senior RB, Florida
Last Week: 17 rushes for 67 yards (3.9 yards per carry).
Season: 120 rushes for 615 yards (5.1 yards per carry) and seven TDs.

Not a stellar game last week for Gillislee, but it didn’t really matter. Florida is riding high right now off of its home win against LSU and against Vanderbilt, Gillislee wasn’t needed as his quarterback stole the show. His campaign was hurt slightly with his poor showing against the Commodores, but it wasn’t going to build much either. That comes over the next two weeks. Florida plays South Carolina and Georgia in games that will decide who wins the SEC East. If Florida is going to get back to the SEC title game, it will do it on the legs of Gillislee. Quarterback Jeff Driskel is getting better, but Gillislee is the senior who will need to come up with big plays if Florida is to stay in the national spotlight. South Carolina is giving up just 108 yards per game on the ground, and if it can bottle up Gillislee, consider his Heisman run over. But if he carries the Gators through a stout Gamecocks defense, look for his stock to rise significantly.

6. Kenjon Barner - Senior RB, Oregon
Last Week: 20 rushes for 122 yards (6.1 yards per carry).
Season: 116 rushes for 727 yards( 6.3 yards per carry) and nine TDs.

Forget De’Anthony Thomas, if an Oregon Duck is going to win the Heisman, it is going to be Barner. He is as explosive as any other player on the Ducks roster and he gets far more looks than his backfield mate. He has 20 rushes in each of the past three games, and with four road games remaining on the schedule, Oregon will need a steady ground game. A steady ground game means Barner will be getting the ball more and more. Oregon is heading into the toughest part of its schedule and its opponents will start to actually play some defense. Barner is the No. 12 leading rusher this season and his numbers should only get better as Oregon looks to secure wins and return to the Pac 12 Championship game. While Thomas is a niche back in a niche offense, Barner is a legitimate back in a niche offense. The difference between the two will become apparent as the season wanes.

 

Geno Smith
Senior QB, West Virginia
Last Week: 25-for-35 (71percent) for 268 yards and four TDs.
Season: 166-for-204 (81 percent) for 1996 yards and 24 TDs.

Smith put himself in the Heisman lead early and he sealed his spot last week. Against a Texas defense that was trying to hit him and get to him the entire game, Smith still coordinated the West Virginia offense flawlessly. He was always able to make a big play when the Mountaineers needed it and had big passes that had to be on target. There were times when the Texas coverage was good, but his throws were just better. Barring a miracle from another source, Smith should not be passed as long as West Virginia keeps winning. It will take a loss to dethrone Smith — that might not even be enough. 

Collin Klein
Senior QB, Kansas State
Last Week: 7-for-14 (50 percent) for 129 yards and two TDs, 10 rushes for 116 yards (11.6 yards per carry) and two TDs.
Season: 63-for-94 (67 percent) for 887 yards for seven TDs and two interceptions, 73 rushes for 405 yards (5.5 yards per carry) and seven TDs.

Klein continues be as solid and consistent as any player in the country. His numbers cannot compare to Smith’s, and 20 years ago, he would not have had a chance to win the Heisman. But with all of Kansas State’s games on television, voters all over the country get to watch him and see him play. He’s not flashy, and he doesn’t make the precision throws that Smith does, but Klein gets it done unlike anyone else in the game right now. He is tough as nails and will physically wear down any defense. Klein and running back John Hubert make up the most physical backfield in the country and Klein may have the best chance at passing Smith when they square off in two weeks.

Manti Te’o
Senior LB, Notre Dame
Last Week: 10 tackles.
Season: 46 tackles, three interceptions.

Notre Dame played Miami in a thriller — in 1988. Last week’s game, a 41-3 Fighting Irish win, was not a thriller. Te’o recorded his third double-digit tackle game of the season against the Hurricanes. With Florida State and Georgia both falling last week, the field in front of Te’o continues to shrink. As long as Notre Dame keeps winning, he will continue to receive Heisman consideration. With games against Stanford, Oklahoma, and Southern California still to come, Notre Dame will continue to be in high profile games. . Working in Te’o’s favor is that as long as he and the defense continue to play well his Heisman campaign can survive a loss or two.

Braxton Miller
Sophomore QB, Ohio State
Last Week: 7-for-14 (50 percent) for 127 yards and one TD, 16 rushes for 186 yards (11.6 yards per carry) and one TD.
Season: 83-for-135 (61 percent) for 1060 yards, nine TDs and three interceptions, 106 rushes for 763 yards (7.2 yards per carry) and eight TDs.

Miller is having a breakout season and is the primary reason that Ohio State is already bowl eligible. Or, it would be, were it not on probation with a bowl ban. But he’s still playing well and the Buckeyes are undefeated at this point and a Top 10 team in the AP poll (still ineligible in the Coaches’ poll). However, Miller’s passing stats leave something to be desired. In order for him to become a real Heisman threat, he will have to get a lot sharper on his passes, which he may need another offseason to tighten up. But his ground game has made him one of the most dangerous players in the Big Ten. The queston still remains that with Ohio State unable to play in any postseason games, how much consideration will he get?

Matt Barkley
Senior QB, USC
Last Week: 23-for-30 (76 percent) for 303 yards and three TDs.
Season: 111-for-173 (64 percent) for 1308 yards, 15 TDs and five interceptions.

Ever since the one-possession loss at Stanford in mid-September, people have fallen asleep on USC. Are the Trojans National Championship contenders? That remains to be seen. After USC lines up against Oregon in early November, we will know how good both teams are, as well as how good Barkley is. But he is still in the Heisman race. His October schedule is fairly pedestrian and USC should be hot heading into the titanic matchup against Oregon. The Trojans dashed Oregon’s National Title hopes in Eugene last season and they could do the same this season at home.

Mike Gillislee
Senior RB, Florida
Last Week: 34 rushes for 148 yards (6.2 yards per carry) and two TDs.
Season: 103 rushes for 548 yards (5.3 yards per carry) and seven TDs.

Fresh off the huge win over LSU, Florida is now one of the leaders for the National Title discussion. Gillislee is the main reason why. He is averaging 110 rushing yards per game, just a few behind the pace set by Mark Ingram when he won the Heisman in 2009. For the Gators to keep winning, they will need to rely on the legs of Gillislee, so he will have plenty of opportunities to add to his resume.