- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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The SEC is headed to yet another BCS title game, and it's also sending a trio of players to New York City for this year's Heisman Trophy ceremony.
On Monday, the six finalists for this year's award were announced, and Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, Auburn running back Tre Mason and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel all made the cut. The six finalists invited to New York are the most for the award since 1994.
But does anyone from this SEC trio have a chance at bringing the bronze statue back to the SEC for the fourth time in five years? Let's take a look:
Mason: The Auburn running back was a mere blip on the Heisman radar before he ran over and through Missouri's top-ranked rush defense in Auburn's SEC championship victory over the weekend. Mason ran for 304 yards and four touchdowns against Mizzou to help send Auburn to the VIZIO BCS National Championship. But he was also very good before he stepped into the Georgia Dome. On the season, Mason has rushed for an SEC-high 1,621 yards and a school-record 22 touchdowns. He also holds the Auburn single-season record for all-purpose yards (2,137). Five of the defenses he has faced this season rank in the top 50 against the run, and he rushed for 100-plus yards against each but Mississippi State, which held him to 34 yards. He averaged at least 5 yards per carry in nine games, rushed for 100-plus yards in eight games and had at least one rushing touchdown in 12 games. His stock is trending up.
Manziel: The reigning Heisman Trophy winner had a strong case to become the first repeat winner since Ohio State's Archie Griffin (1974-75), but back-to-back poor performances -- and losses -- to close the season have knocked Manziel down the pecking order. Still, he had a very impressive regular season. He transformed as a passer, going through his progressions, checking down, reading defenses and finding multiple throwing options. He thought to throw first this year, leading the SEC with 3,732 passing yards and 33 touchdowns. He also ran for 686 yards (724 less than last season) and eight more scores (he had 21 rushing TDs last year). Manziel also has two more losses than he did last year and was held to just 494 total yards and two touchdowns in his last two games. His stock is trending down.
McCarron: If this were a lifetime achievement award, McCarron would be a shoo-in for the Heisman this year. During his three years as a starter, McCarron won back-to-back BCS titles and heads into the Allstate Sugar Bowl with a 36-3 record. He's been one of the nation's most efficient passers and has thrown just 13 interceptions to 75 touchdowns during his career. But when it comes to numbers this season, McCarron ranks fifth in the SEC with 2,676 passing yards and has 26 touchdowns to five interceptions. McCarron has been incredibly consistent during his career and is the true definition of the word "winner," but his numbers could hold him back in the Heisman race. His stock is about the same as it was during the season.
5dAlex Scarborough and Greg Ostendorf