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NCAA Football

Power Ranking Top 15 Heisman Candidates

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Heisman Trophy Watch After Week 1

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Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

There is an old saying in baseball that you can’t win your division in April, but you certainly can lose it in April. The same can be said for the Heisman Trophy in college football where a strong performance in the early part of the season will guarantee you nothing, but a clunker early on will doom your chances of winning the award.

The opening week of the college football season gave us a potential Game of the Year candidate with Georgia traveling to Clemson where there was no shortage of Heisman candidates on the field. This type of primetime affair with the nation watching can vault a player’s candidacy with a win and conversely stop it before it even gets underway with a loss.

In the case of Aaron Murray and Tajh Boyd, they saw their respective Heisman bids take off in opposite directions, but we also saw a number of preseason favorites stumble and fail to meet expectations in their opening tilt.

Recent history has shown surprise candidates emerge and to represent that, I have a candidate on the list that may surprise some readers, but if history is any indicator it’s that preseason favorites have seen their Heisman chances go by the wayside because of the performance by a player not even on the Heisman radar.

Here are the top 15 candidates for the Heisman trophy after their opening game and their stats in the first game. This list is sure to fluctuate throughout the season and I will update the list at the start of every week.

The 79th annual Heisman Memorial Trophy presentation is Saturday Dec. 14 at 8 p.m. ET from the Downtown Athletic Club in New York City.

Patrick is a college football writer for Rant Sports and radio host on Sportstownchicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt and add him to your Google network.

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15. Derek Carr-QB-Fresno State

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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Carr is the nation's leading passer after Fresno State's Week 1 win over Rutgers in which he completed 52 of his 72 pass attempts for 456 yards and five touchdowns. He forced overtime with a touchdown with 38 seconds left to play and scored on the first play of overtime and even added 24 yards rushing.

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14. Lache Seastrunk-RB-Baylor

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Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Baylor's Seastrunk is long on confidence and full of talent. He did a lot of damage vs. Wofford in a limited amount of time yet still managed 11 carries for 111 yards and two touchdowns.

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13. Marqise Lee-WR-USC

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Lee is one of the top talents at any position in the nation, but his position is not a popular position among Heisman voters and has to deal with ongoing issues at quarterback. However, USC's top playmaker recorded eight receptions for 104 yards, which is even more impressive considering USC only completed 15 passes all game in their win over Hawaii.

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12. T.J. Yeldon-RB-Alabama

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Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Yeldon did not exactly light it up for Alabama in their opening win over Virginia Tech, but have no fear the sophomore running back will have plenty of opportunities to post 100-yard games this season.

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11. De'Anthony Thomas-RB-Oregon

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Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Thomas is a threat to score every time he has his hands on the ball and Oregon's top playmaker reached pay dirt twice on 18 carries spanning 128 yards for an impressive 7.1 yards per carry. He didn't factor in special teams and had just one catch which are two elements that could vault "DAT" up the ranks.

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10. Brett Hundley-QB-UCLA

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Hundley is overshadowed because he plays on the west coast, but UCLA's quarterback is one of the top dual-threats in the nation. He completed 22 of his 33 attempts for 274 and two touchdowns. He also carried the ball seven times for 63 yards and touchdown runs of 37 and 11 yards.

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9. Jadaveon Clowney-DE-South Carolina

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Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Clowney was under more scrutiny than perhaps anyone in the country in his season debut and he largely did not live up to the expectations thrust upon him. He had three tackles and zero sacks, but he was fighting a stomach virus and looked winded early and often for South Carolina. I wouldn't be worried about Clowney in the slightest and he should be in line for a big season.

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8. A.J. McCarron-QB-Alabama

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Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

McCarron was my favorite to win the award, but he had a quiet night as did most of the Alabama offense. He completed 10 passed for 110 yards with one 38-yard touchdown and an interception. His first interception didn’t come until the 10th game last year when he only had three for the season. Look for McCarron to raise his stock in the Texas A&M game.

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7. Johnny Manziel-QB-Texas A&M

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Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

If it wasn't Clowney who was under the most scrutiny it certainly was Manziel who was suspended for the first half vs. Rice. Manziel led the Aggies to four scores in the five drives he played before leaving early after a selfish unsportsmanlike penalty for pointing at the scoreboard after a TD pass in the fourth quarter. He completed six of his eight attempts for 94 yards and three touchdowns and added six rushes for 19 yards in the 52-31 win.

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6. Duke Johnson-RB-Miami

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Johnson is the nation's leading rusher after Miami handled Florida atlantic with ease as Johnson ran for 186 yards on 19 carries with one going for a 53 yards for a touchdown. He also added one catch for 38 yards.

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5. Todd Gurley-RB-Georgia

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Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Gurley is the only player on the list with a loss, but don't blame him for Georgia dropping their opener vs. Clemson. Despite missing time with injury, Gurley finished with 154 yards on 12 carries and touchdown runs of 75 and 12. His 75-yard score was the first carry of the season. He'll have a number of opportunities to climb the ranks but the loss stings.

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4. Marcus Mariota-QB-Oregon

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Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Mariota did a lot of damage in a short amount of time in Oregon's tune-up vs. Nicholls State. He completed 12 of 21 passes for 234 yards with a 27 yard touchdown pass and added five rushes for 114 yards and touchdown runs of 12 and 46 yards in the Duck's 66-3 win.

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3. Braxton Miller-QB-Ohio State

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Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Miller wasn't even the biggest star in Ohio State's win over Buffalo as that distinction goes to running back Jordan Hall, but Miller is the cog of the Buckeye engine. He is the reason why OSU could go undefeated this year and completed 15 of his 22 attempts for a 68.2 completion percentage and 178 yards and two touchdowns and an interception. He added 17 runs for 77 yards with a long of 40.

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2. Tajh Boyd-QB-Clemson

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Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Boyd did it all in Clemson's win over No. 5 Georgia accounting for five touchdowns in the process. He ran for two and threw for three and accounted for 312 total yards of offense in the biggest win of the early season.

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1. Teddy Bridgewater-QB-Louisville

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Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Bridgewater is considered the top quarterback prospect in NFL circles and after the clinic the Louisville junior put on display vs. Ohio he is the best college quarterback as well. He barely broke a sweat in the fist half as he threw for four touchdowns and 254 yards while completing 80 percent of his passes. His final tally would see him throw for five scores and 355 yards while completing 23 of his 28 attempts. With Louisville having a favorable schedule the Cardinals have a great shot to go undefeated and if that's the case it will be in large part the efforts of Bridgewater.

Related Links

Jadaveon Clowney's Heisman Bid

Teddy Bridgewater Makes Heisman Statement

Tajh Boyd Shines in Battle vs. Heisman Contenders