Alabama Quarterback AJ McCarron in Middle of Heisman Trophy Race
Just one week ago, Alabama fans had written off any chance of AJ McCarron winning the Heisman Trophy following a lackluster performance in a win against Mississippi State. Many people thought that game was his opportunity to pounce on an opening left after Marcus Mariota struggled in a loss to Stanford and the Jameis Winston news began circulating.
McCarron finished the night in Starkville with just 187 yards passing and an uncommon two interceptions and Alabama fans moved on.
But the Heisman Trophy has never been a big deal in Tuscaloosa and that's why fans weren't terribly upset when talks of college football's greatest individual award ceased. Up until Mark Ingram brought the school its first Heisman, the fact that the Crimson Tide had been absent of any winners was a sense of pride. It always signified a greater purpose on the field. Team success over a player's accomplishments. National championships over individual prestige. The rest of college football can keep its personal achievements; Alabama will just continue settling for crystal balls.
Then another topsy-turvy week of college football brought us right back to where we were two weeks ago: McCarron on the brink of an invite to New York City with a strong possibility of taking home the Heisman Trophy.
How did we get back here so quickly?
Well, Texas A&M, Oregon, and Baylor all lost and the candidate from each team performed poorly in the process. You can all but eliminate Johnny Manziel, Marcus Mariota, and Bryce Petty from the conversation. All of these guys were top three candidates at some point in the season.
Then there were the DNA results coming back as a match in the Jameis Winston case. While it doesn't prove guilt by any means, it does put him with the accuser that night which puts doubt in voters' minds. We'll know a lot more next week after the State Attorney decides whether to pursue charges. At this point, Winston remains the heavy favorite, but the uncertainty off the field has opened the door for other contenders.
According to HeismanPundit.com, Boston College running back Andre Williams has moved into second place while McCarron has added a couple more first-place votes. ESPN.com breaks down the race the same way, while CBSSports.com has the Alabama quarterback running second with a chance to gain ground in the Iron Bowl.
The voting window opened this week, but expect Heisman voters to wait as late as possible to make the most informed decision they can. During that waiting period, McCarron will potentially face two top-5 opponents on the biggest stage each week with the opportunity to convince voters that his winning the award would signify more than a career achievement.
The national championship will continue to be a significantly larger goal in Tuscaloosa, but enjoy the Heisman Trophy storyline. If nothing else, it will give Alabama's most decorated quarterback the national recognition he's earned during his career at the Capstone.