There's clearly room for one Baylor skill player in the Heisman Trophy conversation, seeing that the Bears – now 7-0 and No. 6 in the initial Bowl Championship Series standings – are on pace to set new Football Bowl Subdivision records on the offensive side of the ball.
HEISMAN SURVEY: Who voters are picking
But is there room for two? Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty has been pitch-perfect during the team's perfect start. At the same time, running back Lache Seastrunk has been the nation's top big-play threat out of the backfield. Alone, both are extremely deserving of a spot among the Heisman's leading contenders.
The issue is fairly simple: Only three times during the last decade have a pair of teammates finished in the top seven in the Heisman voting. In 2004, for example, it's possible to make the case that voters were torn between Oklahoma teammates Jason White and Adrian Peterson, resulting in Matt Leinart moving above the pair to take home the trophy.
With eight weeks of the 2013 season in the books, here are 10 top contenders for the Heisman:
1. Oregon QB Marcus Mariota (Last week's ranking: No. 1)
Season stats: 123-of-197 for 2,051 yards; 19 touchdowns, zero interceptions; 49 carries for 493 yards, nine touchdowns
There is a chance – if a small chance – that Mariota is a robot, one with a video-game operating system and the pinpoint accuracy of laser-guided heat-seeking missile. That scenario needs to be suggested, at least. What's more likely is that Oregon's near-perfect offense has found a near-perfect fit, resulting in the sort of numbers and team success that should allow Mariota to cruise to the Heisman should he remain on his present course.
2. Florida State QB Jameis Winston (Last week's ranking: No. 4)
Season stats: 112-of-157 for 1,885 yards; 20 touchdowns, three interceptions; 43 carries for 137 yards, three touchdowns
Winston has as good a chance at winning the Heisman as any redshirt freshman since, well, last season. But even if Manziel hadn't opened the door for rookies a year ago, Winston would have deserved a spot among the leading contenders for the way he's piloted FSU to its 6-0 start. I'd call Saturday night's performance Winston's performance his masterpiece, but that'd be wrong: he's just getting warmed up.
3. Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel (Last week's ranking: No. 2)
Season stats: 159-of-217 for 2,289 yards; 18 touchdowns, seven interceptions; 85 carries for 486 yards, six touchdowns
The uptick in turnovers and the Aggies' second loss hurts Manziel's chances, but it's far too early to eliminate last year's winner from the Heisman mix. He has opportunities left, including two marquee games against LSU and Missouri, and could very easily reclaim the top spot should Mariota and Winston struggle in November.
4. Baylor QB Bryce Petty (Last week's ranking: No. 6)
Season stats: 102-of-144 for 2,023 yards; 15 touchdowns, one interception; 24 carries for 51 yards, five touchdowns
Here's one way to think about Baylor's starter: Petty is averaging more yards per attempt than last season's leading passer, Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato, averaged per completion. That's a pretty impressive fact. It's going to be hard to keep Petty away from Manhattan should Baylor run the table through the rest of the regular season.
5. Oregon State QB Sean Mannion (Last week's ranking: Unranked)
Season stats: 229-of-334 for 2,992 yards; 29 touchdowns, three interceptions
Mannion leads the FBS in yards and touchdowns by a significant margin. The Beavers are 6-1 heading into Saturday's game against Stanford. Only one question: Why did I wait this long to rank Mannion among the top 10? (Answer: I really don't know.)
6. Alabama QB AJ McCarron (Last week's ranking: No. 5)
Season stats: 126-of-182 for 1,587 yards; 14 touchdowns, three interceptions
I still think a degree of attrition will make McCarron a Heisman finalist, but I'm struggling to see how the senior – as fantastic as he's been during Alabama's reign – will have the numbers to finish ahead of Mariota, Winston and the rest. That's an indictment of how the Heisman has leaned in recent history, not of McCarron's turn as the Tide's leader.
7. Fresno State QB Derek Carr (Last week's ranking: No. 10)
Season stats: 216-of-307 for 2,276 yards; 23 touchdowns, four interceptions
Fresno State needs to run the table to earn an at-large BCS bid. At the same time, the Bulldogs need to run the table to get Carr into the top five of the voting. The numbers are terrific and the team a great surprise, but Carr might also need some help.
8. Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch (Last week's ranking: Unranked)
Season stats: 138-of-225 for 1,488 yards; 14 touchdowns, five interceptions; 138 carries for 932 yards, seven touchdowns
What did Lynch achieve Saturday? Oh, just an NCAA record: Lynch ran for an FBS quarterback-record 316 yards, giving him another footnote in a career littered with team, conference and national records.
9. Baylor RB Lache Seastrunk (Last week's ranking: Unranked)
Season stats: 83 carries for 760 yards, 10 touchdowns
As noted, Seastrunk is worth the price of admission. But can he move ahead of his own teammate, let along another slew of qualified contenders? It won't be easy, but Seastrunk deserves some recognition for the way he's played since taking center stage in Baylor's offense last season. For now, he's slightly ahead of other backs like Bishop Sankey, Melvin Gordon, Mike Davis and Duke Johnson.
10. Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater (Last week's ranking: No. 7)
Season stats: 154-of-214 for 2,213 yards; 20 touchdowns, two interceptions
Bridgewater's chances took a substantial hit in Louisville's 38-35 loss to UCF, one that puts the Cardinals behind the eight ball in the American Athletic Conference race. It's not a matter of production: Bridgewater can't be blamed for Saturday's loss, of course, and has even ramped up his production after a breakthrough sophomore season.
HOW THE HEISMAN CANDIDATES FARED IN WEEK 8