Teddy Bridgewater ranks first with the NFL but no better than seventh with Heisman Trophy voters.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – I didn't expect Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to win the Heisman Trophy – or even draw an invitation to the ceremony Saturday night in New York City.
Until I saw that the list of invitees was larger than the Manhattan phone book.
Six guys? Are they giving out the Heisman or planning a pick-up basketball game?
Johnny Manziel and his 13 interceptions got a free ticket to strike another pose. The TMZ cameras are already staking out the hottest spots in SoHo and Tribeca.
Jordan Lynch earned a connecting flight from DeKalb, Ill., even though Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld put up better numbers against Bowling Green than Lynch and Northern Illinois did against the Falcons. Lynch threw two picks in his prime-time moment last Friday night.
Some running back from Boston College is making the trip, even though he (Andre Williams) gained 38 yards against USC, 70 against Clemson and 29 against Syracuse. At least they don't have to pay for air fare. The train from Boston to Penn Station is scenic – and reasonably priced.
I can work with the rest of the list.
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is a sure winner – unless they wait until after the BCS title game against Auburn to collect all the ballots.
Auburn running back Tre Mason has not been tackled since September. A month ago only his friends and family thought he was a candidate. He's good, but likely a couple of games shy.
Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron had the trophy within his grasp until the officials put a second back on the clock against Auburn. Now he'll be lucky to finish second, even though I don't remember seeing Number 10 on the field-goal runback coverage team.
But there's no room for Teddy.
And really there's no mystery about it. Louisville (11-1) disappeared from the minds of the national football voices before Bridgewater had jogged all the way off the field following the Cards' jarring and avoidable loss to Central Florida Oct. 18. There wasn't anything he could do to return to the discussion – other than parachuting onto the ESPN College GameDay set and tackling Kirk Herbstreit one morning.
His play over Louisville's first three November games was not Heisman-worthy – two touchdown passes and one interception in 112 passing attempts. No 300-yard passing games. He completed 64.7 percent of his throws, but Bridgewater posted his three worst passer rating numbers of the season against UConn, Houston and Memphis. Manziel might overcome that. Bridgewater could not, not in the AAC.
Bridgewater was less accurate (62.2 percent) but more spectacular in the Cardinals' season-ending victory at Cincinnati last Thursday. He threw a sharp strike to DeVante Parker for a touchdown in the first quarter and then backed it up with two vintage Teddy Icewater throws for scores to Damian Copeland and Parker in the fourth.
For at least a night, people were comparing him to Manziel, Brett Favre and other captivating guys who make big things out of nothing.
But it wasn't enough to convince the voters that Bridgewater was one of the top six players in college football this season – and it's difficult to argue with that.
He's 12th in the nation in passing yards, 13th in passing touchdowns and 31st in yards per completion. The U of L offensive scheme and play-calling were not designed to be all-Bridgewater, all-the-time.
Remember where all this Heisman talk began last summer? Bridgewater didn't want any. No campaign. No special media availability. No big deal.
Add it up and Bridgewater didn't get any closer to winning the award than Chris Redman, Dave Ragone, Brian Brohm or any other U of L quarterback once considered a contender.
But Teddy Bridgewater will get to New York City. It just won't be this weekend.
His name still sits atop several 2014 NFL Draft projections, including one issued by Sports Illustrated Monday. If Bridgewater decides to skip his senior year for the NFL, that will be a nice $25 million consolation prize.