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Heisman Watch: Winston the top on-field performer this year

Ben Fisher, TSN.ca

12/2/2013 8:09:53 PM

If it's just on-field performance taken into consideration, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is the obvious choice to win the Heisman Race after the NCAA regular season.

The redshirt freshman finished the regular season with nearly 3,500 passing yards, and 35 touchdowns with another three on the ground while leading the Seminoles to the top of the BCS Rankings.

While the other top contenders for the most coveted individual award in college sports slipped up from week to week, Winston remained steady in leading Florida State.

The path to the Heisman is clear for Winston: a solid effort against Duke in the ACC Championship game, in which the Seminoles will be highly favoured, and the trophy is his.

Probably.

Winston has clearly been the best on-field performer in the NCAA but his off-field problems could cost him votes.

The Alabama native has been accused of sexual assault and it's unknown whether or how much that will affect his case for the Heisman.

The official Heisman Trust Mission states the trophy recognizes the player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.

If voters punish Winston for his alleged misconduct, the Heisman race would break wide open with a number of candidates possible to be named top player.

The talk lately has centred around Alabama senior AJ McCarron, buoyed by his stellar Iron Bowl performance in a losing effort. While McCarron has been mentioned among fringe candidates in this column before, his numbers simply don't a Heisman winner equal.

Players more deserving include Baylor QB Bryce Petty and his 28 touchdowns to only two interceptions, and a group of league leading rushers including Boston College's Andre Williams, Washington's Bishop Stankey, and Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey.

Someone else deserving of legitimate consideration is Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch. Lynch's case is hurt by the Huskies' comparatively weak schedule but the senior is the NCAA's third-leading rusher and fourth in total offence and Northern Illinois could be featured in a BCS Bowl.