In another year, Baylor Bears quarterback Bryce Petty might have been considered a runaway favorite for the Heisman trophy. But this season, the Heisman field is loaded, and it includes a number of great quarterbacks, such as Marcus Mariota and last year’s winner Jameis Winston.
While there is some reason to suspect that Winston will not have an easy path to the Heisman in 2014, he is the clear favorite and it will take more than great passing numbers for someone like Petty to take the trophy from him.
In Baylor’s offense, Petty will be one of the few quarterbacks in the country who can match Winston’s passing numbers even on his best day. The key factor that separates the two could be team success.
Both quarterbacks are the faces of their respective teams and will receive disproportionate praise or criticism for the successes and failures of their teams in 2014. If the Seminoles roll through the regular season undefeated and follow it up with another ACC Championship, Winston will almost certainly win the Heisman again this season.
Baylor could put together a similar season, of course, but simply matching Florida State’s regular season accomplishments probably won’t be enough. Petty has to beat out both Winston and the hype that surrounds him, after all. Now that Johnny Manziel is off to the NFL, you can expect ESPN’s Saturday coverage to be all Winston all the time. That gives Winston a major edge, because the media coverage could quickly make it seem like a foregone conclusion that he deserves to win the Heisman again. That narrative may not match reality, but that rarely seems to matter.
Petty will need the Seminoles to lose this season and probably in embarrassing fashion. The Bears could go undefeated thanks to Petty, but it won’t be enough if someone doesn’t derail the Winston hype train.