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NCAA Football

Heisman Trophy: Power Ranking Top 10 Candidates Entering Week 9

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Making Sense of the Heisman Trophy Race

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Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

With the eighth weekend of college football now over with, we can truly begin to get an accurate gauge on what the race for the Heisman Trophy looks like. Sure, making assumptions seven weeks of play left in the season may seem a little early, but there is no doubting that the best players throughout the country have made a huge mark on their team's fortunes to date. At most, any candidate for the premier award in college football will only cement their position the rest of the way, not enter their way into the conversation during the closing weeks of the season.

In order to currently gauge each candidate, one must consider both how well a player has done during the first eight weeks of the season and the type of competition they have done it against. Sure, picking up five touchdowns is nice against a weak conference opponent, but it doesn't hold the same weight as putting up a game-changing performance against a top-10 rival. This is the very tough dilemma that voters face on a week-to-week basis in a college football world that does not see teams play anywhere close to equally tough schedules, and is what makes the Heisman Trophy race so great. It also makes continuously gauging the contenders for the trophy completely necessary, as averaging these totals out at the end of the season allows voters to keep a level head.

With both the urgency of the Heisman Race and the difficulty to gauge it each week in mind, we have compiled a power-ranking of the top 10 Heisman candidates entering Week 9.

Enjoy!

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10. Teddy Bridgewater

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Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Teddy Bridgewater's hopes of winning the Heisman Trophy were always going to be reliant on Louisville maintaining a perfect record, but this hope was dashed when they lost 38-35 to UCF in Week 8. Bridgewater still has great statistics this season -- 2213 passing yards, 72.0 completion percentage, 20 touchdowns and two interceptions -- which could earn him a spot in the top five of most voters by the end of the season, but leaves winning the award out of reach.

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9. Jordan Lynch

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Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

If you have not heard of Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch ,we recommend you get to know the name. Lynch led Northern Illinois to a BCS bowl in 2012 and is on track to do so again in 2013, with 1488 passing yards, 932 rushing yards and 21 total touchdowns. While coming from a non-BCS school will limit Lynch in terms of voter recognition, it is likely that a few more weeks of top play and a perfect record for Northern Illinois will push the senior quarterback into the top five of the Heisman Trophy voting.

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8. AJ McCarron

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John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The man famously dubbed the game manager for Alabama has been much more than that in 2013. For the entirety of the 2013 season AJ McCarron has 1587 passing yards, a 69.2 completion percentage, 14 touchdowns and three interceptions while maintaining a perfect 7-0 record. While the game changer moniker lives on, a few big performances down the stretch could see McCarron sneak in and win the Heisman Trophy.

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7. Derek Carr

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Marco Garcia-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout the entirety of the 2013 season, Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr has been supremely underrated, partly as a result of playing for a team not located in a BCS conference. In seven games Carr has thrown for 2276 yards, a 70.4 completion percentage, 23 touchdowns and four interceptions. With only conference games left, the rest of the way there will be ample opportunity for Carr to pad these statistics, although he currently sits on the outside looking in of the Heisman Trophy race.

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6. Melvin Gordon

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Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon has had a breakout 2013 season, rushing for 1012 yards on an average of 9.5 yards per rush and 11 touchdowns in seven games. Gordon has been remarkably consistent throughout the year, rushing for over 140 yards in six out of seven games and because of this has begun to get serious merit for the Heisman Trophy. With no games left against ranked opponents the rest of the way, it stands to reason that Gordon will continue to put up huge numbers, which leaves him with a good chance to become the first running back since Reggie Bush in 2005 to win the Heisman Trophy.

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5. Johnny Manziel

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Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel has had a great sophomore campaign, throwing for 2289 yards and 18 touchdowns. On the ground, Manziel has ran for 486 yards and six more touchdowns. All of this statistical contributions would put Manziel on top of the 2013 race for the Heisman Trophy in many years, but Texas A&M's lackluster 5-2 record and a great field knock him down to fifth at the moment. Still, do not count out Manziel, as a great run down the stretch could knock him to the helm of the race for the trophy.

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4. Sean Mannion

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Kelley L. Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion has surely been the surprise Heisman Trophy candidate of the 2013 season, but could also be the most deserving candidate. In seven games, Mannion has thrown for an astounding 2992 yards, a 68.6 completion percentage, 29 touchdowns and three interceptions. Aiding this significant statistical output has been the fact that Oregon State is 6-1 and has games left against Stanford and Oregon which can show that Mannion is the real deal. Putting up huge statistics against these foes, along with the other four teams Oregon State plays, will have Mannion cementing his spot near the top of the Heisman Trophy contenders.

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3. Bryce Petty

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Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

As surprising as it may sound Baylor has scored the most points per game in the nation at 64.1, and no player on the team has had a bigger impact on this than quarterback Bryce Petty. Through six games Petty has thrown for a 70.8 completion percentage, 2023 yards, 15 touchdowns and one interception, cementing his spot as a great passer. This contribution has also put Petty near the top of the race for the Heisman Trophy, only in need of consistent play and a couple memorable moments to win the award.

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2. Marcus Mariota

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Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota has been an absolute machine in 2013 both on the ground and through the air, getting a touchdown from both avenues in all seven games. Statistically this has equated to 2051 yards and 19 touchdowns and zero interceptions passing and 493 yards with nine touchdowns running. This has put Mariota No. 1 on many Heisman Trophy contender boards, but he is left just shy on this list because of a lackluster schedule to date. With games left against UCLA, Stanford and Oregon State-arguably the three best teams on Oregon's schedule-there is no doubting that the star quarterback has time and opportunity to prove his worth at the top of the list.

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1. Jameis Winston

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Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston has had significant hype around him for the Heisman Trophy all season long, but a Week 8 demolition of Clemson throws him to the top of the list. In this victory Winston threw for 444 yards, and three touchdowns while rushing for another touchdown. For the entirety of Florida State's six games, Winston has thrown for 1885 yards, 20 touchdowns and three interceptions, while rushing for another 137 yards and three touchdowns. This great contribution has Famous Jameis pipping Mariota and the rest of the crowd for the Heisman Trophy at this moment in time.