Heisman Watch: Week Nine

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Oregon’s Marcus Mariota continues to find his name at the forefront of the Heisman conversation, despite the Ducks loss to Arizona. The junior has been the most consistent pivot in the country this season and has yet to throw an interception.

Photo Credit: Charlie Pearce | Daily Texan Staff

1. Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott

Last week: BYE

2014: 1,478 passing yards, 14 passing TDs, 4 INTs, 576 rushing yards, 8 rushing TDs

Even without playing, Prescott remained a topic of discussion among college football’s talking heads last week, and for good reason. Based on what the Heisman front-runner has already accomplished this fall, it’s difficult for most to contain the anticipation of what Prescott will do for his team in the coming weeks. Neither Prescott nor Mississippi State have been in the positions they are in. As the leader of the nation’s top program, Prescott has the opportunity to prove that he can handle every test thrown his way.

2. Oregon QB Marcus Mariota 

Last week (W, 45-20, vs. Washington): 24-for-33, 336 passing yards, 2 TDs

2014: 1,957 passing yards, 19 passing TDs, 0 INTs, 289 rushing yards, 5 rushing TDs

The Ducks have silenced critics over the past two weeks after their loss to Arizona, and, through it all, Mariota has kept the same poise he is known for. It seems impossible to startle the junior in any situation. Against Washington, his numbers weren’t prolific, but it’s the intangibles that showed up once again on each drive, which led Oregon to an easy 25-point win. Field generals don’t come better made than Mariota, and although Oregon still has tough opponents ahead, it’s difficult to bet against the leader of this Duck team. 

3. Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon 

Last week: BYE

2014: 132 attempts, 1,046 rushing yards, 13 TDs, 1 receiving TD

With Todd Gurley’s status still unknown, Gordon stands alone as the best running back in college football. The title is well deserved, as the 6-foot-1-inch, 207-pound junior has been on another level this season. Gordon has scored multiple touchdowns almost every Saturday this fall, and, with a nation-best 174 yards per game average, Gordon’s has heavily impacted every matchup.

4. Alabama WR Amari Cooper 

Last week (W, 59-0, vs. Texas A&M): 8 receptions, 140 yards, 2 TDs

2014: 62 receptions, 908 yards, 7 TDs

There were plenty of opportunities to shine in Alabama’s blowout over Texas A&M last week, and Cooper took full advantage. He looked untouchable against the Aggie defense, as he has many times this fall. But, the greatest part about Cooper’s stat line against the Aggies is the realization that those kinds of numbers have been the norm for Tide receiver. The way Cooper has been playing, he looks like he’s the only Crimson Tide target on the field at times. He’s been that good.

5. Florida State QB Jameis Winston

Last week (W, 31-27, vs. Notre Dame): 23-for-31, 273 passing yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT 

2014: 1,878 passing yards, 13 passing TDs, 6 INTs, 2 rushing TDs

Somehow, Winston’s slew of off-the-field issues haven’t affected his on-field performance at all as he’s roared back into the Heisman conversation. Of course, getting back into this race is easier when you do what Winston has done all season long — win. After a year and a half, Winston is still undefeated as a starter at Florida State. Against Notre Dame, he completed 15 of his 16 passes in the second half and led the Seminoles to three critical touchdowns to defeat then-No. 5 Fighting Irish.