Post Heisman watch: FSU’s Jameis Winston remains favorite, but off-field matters could derail candidacy

Here’s how Palm Beach Post University of Miami beat writer Matt Porter sizes up the Heisman Trophy race this week:

Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State: His case looks even stronger given the struggles of other top contenders. In another shortened outing, Winston torched an overmatched Idaho squad for 225 yards and four touchdowns on 14-of-25 passing. Given how much Florida — FSU's opponent Saturday in the regular-season finale — has struggled this season, it seems no on-the-field factor can affect Winston's candidacy this week. The sexual assault allegations surrounding him are another matter. If he is charged, his candidacy is in peril.

AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama: Slowly, steadily, McCarron hung around in the race. This week, he shot up from the middle of the pack after struggles by Marcus Mariota, Bryce Petty and Johnny Manziel. The senior became the top-ranked Tide's winningest quarterback in a 49-0 win over Chattanooga in which he completed 13 of 16 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns. Now he's looking to complete his Heisman resume with an Iron Bowl win against No. 4 Auburn.

Andre Williams, RB, Boston College: Can no longer overlook an outstanding season. The Eagles senior leads the nation in rushing yards (2,073) and has been a monster against most everyone he has played (188 yards per game, including 149 against FSU). Averaging just shy of 300 yards per game in his last three outings, he had 263 in a 29-26 win at Maryland, including a 36-yarder in the final minute to set up the winning field goal. Add in the fact BC went from two wins to bowl eligibility (7-4) and you're looking at a legitimate Heisman candidate.

Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: Has lost three games and is still in the conversation, which speaks to how much fun he is to watch. The nation's leader in total yards (4,202) was 16-of-41 passing for 224 yards in a 34-10 loss to LSU, throwing for one TD with two interceptions. The reigning Heisman winner likely won't repeat, but he may make it to New York as a finalist.

Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois: Kept the Huskies, now No. 14 in the BCS standings, rolling with 363 total yards and three second-half touchdowns in a 35-17 win over Toledo. He was 17-of-22 passing and carried 28 times for 161 yards while improving to 23-2 as a starter. Given the struggles of the former top contenders, Lynch has a shot at being a finalist — especially if NIU makes a second consecutive BCS bowl, which is not a guarantee in large part because of …

Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State: Incredible numbers this year for Carr, who leads the nation in per-game total offense (405.2 yards) and is the second player in the last six years to average 400-plus (Houston's Case Keenum, 2008, '09 and '11). Carr passed for a school-record seven touchdowns and 527 yards in the Bulldogs' 69-28 win over New Mexico, clinching a spot in the Mountain West title game. Ahead of all the other mid-majors in the BCS standings except for No. 14 Northern Illinois, the No. 16 Bulldogs could gain an at-large bid if they beat San Jose State next week and then win the MWC title.

Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon: A terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for Mariota, whose stumble in a 42-16 upset loss at Arizona ends the Ducks' BCS hopes and takes their quarterback out of the race. Once the Heisman favorite, the sophomore threw his first two interceptions of the year — his first in 353 attempts — adding two TD passes and finishing 27-of-41 for 308 yards. He also took a knee to the head trying to make a tackle in the fourth quarter.

Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor: Like Mariota, down and out. Petty couldn't save the Bears, who had by far their worst game of the season in a 49-17 loss at Oklahoma State. Petty went 28-of-48 for 359 yards and two touchdowns. His efficiency rating (134.9) and yards per attempt (7.5) were his worst numbers of the year, and contributed to Baylor's first loss.