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Manziel Blueprint For Back-To-Back Heismans

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Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel may not be the front-runner for a second straight Heisman Trophy heading into November, but he is still in the running. Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images.
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel may not be the front-runner for a second straight Heisman Trophy heading into November, but he is still in the running. Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images.

Whether you like him or hate him, Johnny Manziel is an exciting football player.

From his long runs to an accurate arm that always seems to find an open receiver, Manziel has backed up last year's Heisman Trophy campaign to thrust himself into this season's Heisman conversation again.

Manziel has thrown for 2,594 yards and 22 touchdowns at Texas A&M this season while rushing for 497 yards and six touchdowns. However, unlike last season, Manziel isn't the Heisman favorite heading into November even though his stats are better than a year ago at the same time.

So, what will it take for Manziel to come out on top?

The Competition

Before looking at how Manziel can win another Heisman, it's important to look at his competition. There are currently two quarterbacks in Oregon's Marcus Mariota and Florida State's Jameis Winston ahead of him, according to ESPN's Heisman Watch. Here is how all the three quarterbacks compare:

Player Passing TD INT CMP % QBR Rushing TD
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M 2,594 22 8 73 89.7 497 6
Marcus Mariota, Oregon 2,281 20 0 64 95.5 511 9
Jameis Winston, Florida State 2,177 23 4 69.9 92.6 126 3

Mariota may have the lowest completion percentage of the three quarterbacks, but he has not thrown an interception in 2013. His QBR and rushing stats both rank the highest. Mariota seemingly has the advantage the rest of the way, but the Ducks still have to face Stanford and its defense which is allowing 19.4 points per game. Last year, the Cardinal squeaked out a 17-14 win in overtime.

Winston has one more chance to garner votes when the Seminoles face No. 7 Miami this weekend. After that, Wake Forest, Syracuse, Idaho and Florida remain on the Florida State schedule.

If anything, Mariota and Winston don't have as many chances left to impress the voters as Manziel.

On Tap For Manziel

Manziel has two big games remaining on the Aggies' schedule — LSU and Missouri. The LSU game is the one that Manziel has marked for revenge after he threw three interceptions in the Aggies' 24-19 loss to the Tigers last year. Manziel and the Aggies put up 647 yards against Missouri a year ago.

Manziel must continue to put up big numbers in his last four games. He has continually found open receivers this season and is making life tough on opponents. The Aggies' two losses have not been Manziel's fault, as Texas Tech put up a combined 83 points in its defeats to Alabama and Auburn.

One Slip-Up

All it took for Collin Klein of Kansas State to slip out of the Heisman Trophy lead last season were a few mistakes that allowed Manziel to slide into the top spot.

This year is no different. Mariota and Winston only need to slip up once and Manziel will be back on top of the Heisman race. The Aggies' two losses hurt Manziel, but when you throw for 918 yards and nine touchdowns in those two loses, you're still a great quarterback.

Because of those numbers, Manziel still can overtake Mariota and Winston if they stumble. Both quarterbacks have had great games this season, but the difference is that both Oregon and Florida State would still be great teams without their quarterbacks.

Texas A&M, on the other hand, wouldn't be where it is without Manziel under center.