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Hadley: New Heisman hopefuls to watch (Nov. 25)

By Greg Hadley | Monday, November 25, 2013

We are less than three weeks from the Heisman Trophy ceremony, and the race for the prized award could not be more wide open.

You could make a strong argument for at least six different players to take home the award, but there is no clear favorite. 

So why not buck the trend and give the award to a running back or a quarterback from a smaller school?

All of this should be prefaced with the note that Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is head and shoulders above the rest of the field, statistically speaking. But the Heisman voters probably are not interested in generating controversy, and the rape accusations swirling around Winston are nothing if not controversial. On one hand, it is unfortunate that Winston may not win because of an accusation that has not yet been close to confirmed. 

On the other, Winston will have to worry about a lot more than the Heisman if he is guilty. 

Still, there is a field of worthy candidates that deserve much more consideration than they have gotten. Here are some of them, from least to most deserving.

4. Teddy Bridgewater 

The American Athletic Conference gets absolutely no respect because honestly the conference is terrible. It’s a good thing the BCS is ending soon, because it would be a travesty to keep giving the conference an automatic bid.
That being said, Louisville quarterback Bridgewater deserves to be taken seriously, even if his conference does not. 

He has the highest completion percentage of any quarterback in a “major” conference, 25 touchdowns against only three interceptions and the fifth best passing efficiency in the nation. His sole loss this season came in a 38-35 defeat against No. 17 UCF. He’s not the best player in the country, but you could argue that he deserves to be invited to New York, especially if Louisville wins out.

3. Ka’Deem Carrey

Arizona’s Carrey is not the best running back in the country, but he is certainly close. He ranks in the top 10 for yards, touchdowns and attempts. Normally, this would not be enough to gain many votes, especially on a 7-4 Wildcats team. Unlike any of the other players mentioned, however, he has had a Heisman “moment:” a season-defining game that fans and voters alike automatically associate with his name. 

Carrey led Arizona to a win over Oregon on Saturday with four touchdowns and 206 yards. A performance like that is not quickly forgotten and forces voters to oay attention to the rest of his season, which was pretty darn good.

2. Jordan Lynch and Derek Carr

Yes, it is a little patronizing to stick Northern Illinois’ Lynch and Fresno State’s Carr together. They are different quarterbacks in different systems for different teams. But the reasons they will not win the Heisman are the same. They do not play for a major conference, and their schedules are too weak. 

Regardless, both have been outstanding this season. Carr has been, in a word, prolific. He is in the top five in almost every statistical category for quarterbacks and has only thrown four interceptions for an undefeated team.

Lynch has been just as good. He has accounted for 38 touchdowns and is in the top 10 for both rushing yards and touchdowns. His team is still undefeated and has a shot at making its second straight BCS bowl. 

Both players have not faced very tough schedules, but both are among the best in the country, and at least one should be named a finalist.

1. Andre Williams

Williams has the exact opposite problem of Lynch and Carr. He plays in a BCS conference for a team that is 7-4 and unranked. It has been over a decade since a Heisman winner’s team had that many losses. He is also a running back, and not counting Reggie Bush’s vacated trophr, only one running back has won in the 21st century. 

Still, Williams has rushed for more touchdowns than the Eagles have thrown for all year. He is an absolute workhorse, rushing for over 400 more total yards than the next closest rusher and sporting a ridiculous 6.5 yards per carry averagr. Simply put, he is the best running back in the country. 

Shouldn’t that merit heavy consideration from the Heisman voters? 

Contact Greg Hadley at ghadley@nd.edu

The views expressed in this Sports Authority are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.