Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  By CORY McCARTNEY  |  Last updated 10/16/13
There's no pomp, no circumstance and no intrinsic value to it. But none of that can dissuade the Heisman Forecaster. We've reached the season's midpoint, meaning it's time to name the Halfway Heisman and the choice would seem to be clear: Oregon's Marcus Mariota. The redshirt sophomore quarterback closed out his first half in resounding fashion, throwing for 366 yards and three touchdowns and running for 88 yards and another score in the Ducks' rout of then-No. 16 Washington. On the season, Mariota has 25 touchdowns (17 passing and eight rushing) and has yet to turn the ball over. He's second in the nation in points responsible for with 150, fifth in pass efficiency (182.4) and sixth in total offense (358.3 yards per game), making him one of only two players to rank in the top 10 in all three categories (the other is reigning winner Johnny Manziel). The stats are there and the schedule also sets up well for Mariota, with back-to-back games against No. 9 UCLA (Oct. 26) and No. 13 Stanford (Nov. 7), plus a likely spot in the conference title game against. All that being said, halfway isn't all the way, as Denard Robinson in 2009 and '10 and Geno Smith last season can attest. But at this point, Mariota appears well on his way to becoming the Ducks' first winner and the first for a Pac-12 player who doesn't play for USC since Stanford's Jim Plunkett 43 years ago. Before we break down the players who are rising and those who are falling in the race, here's a look at how the ballot would likely stack up after Week 7, with the previously fawned over Mariota at the top. 1. Marcus Mariota, QB Oregon, RS Soph. 2. Tajh Boyd, QB Clemson, RS Sr. 3. Johnny Manziel, QB Texas A&M, RS Soph. ON THE RISE 1. Tajh Boyd, QB Clemson, RS Sr. OR Jameis Winston, QB Florida State, RS Fr. We'll have the first of the second half of the season's trophy elimination games as Boyd's third-ranked Tigers and Winston and the No. 5 Seminoles meet in Death Valley. If Boyd has a monster game he could challenge Mariota for the top spot when you consider that he would own two wins over top 5 teams -- having already beaten then-No. 5 Georgia -- and Winston would rise up the standings by virtue of the biggest win of any contender based on opponents' rankings. Regardless of who wins, the ACC figures to have a legitimate candidate to at the very least get to New York, something it hasn't done since Chris Weinke's win in 2000. You know somewhere commissioner John Swofford is smiling just thinking about it. 2. Johnny Manziel, QB Texas A&M, RS Soph. It's been discussed in this space before, but the odds of Manziel winning a second trophy are extremely long for a variety of reasons. That doesn't mean he's not going to make it interesting, reaching the 7,000-yard plateau in his 19th game last Saturday at Ole Miss, making him the fastest player in FBS history to hit that mark. This week he'll get his second crack at a ranked opponent vs. No. 24 Auburn, whose defense already struggled against one running QB in Mississippi State's Dak Prescott (213 yards passing; 133 and two TDs rushing). A near-lock for a return trip to the ceremony as the defending winner, Manziel is on pace for 4,546 yards of offense, which would be the 32nd highest total ever or 16 spots and 219 yards higher on the all-time list than Cam Newton in his winning season of 2010. 3. Bishop Sankey, RB Washington, Jr. Named after Tupac Shakur's character in 'Juice' -- his Twitter feed is a perfect @_GotTheJuiceNow -- Sankey is making statement after statement in the Pac-12. One week after becoming the first back to hit 100 yards against Stanford, he did the same to Oregon, running for 167 yards. That's the most yards the Ducks have allowed since the Cardinal's Toby Gerhart burned them for 223 on Nov. 7, 2009, a season in which he was the Heisman runner-up. Already the nation's leader in rushing yards (899) and yards per game (149.8), Sankey could see those numbers expand as the next three games include Arizona State (76th vs. the rush), Cal (99th) and Colorado (86th). FALL GUYS 1. Boyd OR Winston Here's the flip side of the Boyd-Winston debate. With a massive game with BCS title implications, the loser is, for all intents and purposes, not going to win the trophy; there's just no getting around it. Boyd would still have No. 11 South Carolina in the regular-season finale and Winston has two top-flight games ahead with No. 10 Miami on Nov. 2 and No. 22 Florida on Nov. 30, but a win seems out of the question without claiming this top-5 clash. That doesn't mean the loser couldn't still be a finalist, but in order to win this award, you need to take advantage of the spotlight and chances are that spotlight won't burn any brighter than it will in Memorial Stadium. 2. Aaron Murray, QB Georgia, RS Sr. That Murray has been playing without his biggest weapons around him and still led clutch drives against South Carolina, LSU and Tennessee will help. So too will his being the SEC's all-time passing yards king, with the total offense and TD throws records to follow. But Murray's hopes ultimately hinge on an SEC title and now even emerging from the convoluted East isn't a certainty after his two-interception and fumble-that-was-returned-for-a-TD day in the Bulldogs' loss to Missouri. He'll have chances to impress with No. 22 Florida and No. 24 Auburn still on the schedule, but Murray won't be able to do much to help his chances this week against 3-3 Vanderbilt. 3. Teddy Bridgewater, QB Louisville, Jr. Without a marquee opponent on the schedule it was going to take complete domination each and every week to keep Bridgewater near the top of this race, and ahead of a game that could be the Cardinal's toughest of the season, he looked shaky. The junior threw an end zone interception and fumbled in the fourth quarter as Louisville edged Rutgers. He can climb back into contention with a big night Friday against UCF -- which is 3-0 on the road, beat Penn State and hung with No. 11 South Carolina before losing by three -- but Bridgewater can't afford another setback in a candidacy that is already being marginalized due to things out of his control.
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