1. Oregon QB Marcus Mariota
Last week (W, 45-16 vs. Stanford): 19-for-30, 258 passing yards, 2 passing TDs, 1 INT, 85 rushing yards, 2 rushing TDs
2014: 2,541 passing yards, 26 passing TDs, 2 INTs, 410 rushing yards, 7 rushing TDs
Of all the great things Mariota had accomplished, beating Stanford wasn’t on that list until last week. Mariota led the Ducks to their first win over the Cardinal in three years. And if that’s not enough proof of just how well Mariota is playing right now, then consider his statistics. Four total touchdowns and 343 all-purpose yards against Stanford were more than enough to dispel the greatest demon of Mariota’s time at Oregon. The pre-season Heisman favorite somehow appears to be getting better and better each week. As Oregon’s chances to get into the College Football Playoff increases, so will Mariota’s Heisman odds.
2. Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott
Last week (W, 17-10, vs. Arkansas): 18-for-27, 331 passing yards, 1 passing TD, 2 INTs, 61 rushing yards
2014: 2,025 passing yards, 16 passing TDs, 7 INTs, 725 rushing yards, 10 rushing TDs
You can’t play inconsistently and expect to sit atop the Heisman race, and Prescott is no exception. He’s played like a star most of the season, but his three interceptions in the last two games and nail-biting victories over average teams are not going to cut it by the time the Heisman winner is announced in December. Prescott has still kept his Bulldogs undefeated and ranked first in the nation, but he’s got to regain his consistency if he’s going to win this award.
3. Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon
Last week (W, 37-0, vs. Rutgers): 19 attempts, 128 rushing yards, 2 rushing TDs
2014: 173 attempts, 1,296 rushing yards, 18 rushing TDs, 1 receiving TD
It’s been more than two months since the last time Gordon failed to reach 100 rushing yards in a game. Now that you’ve let that sink in, here’s another stat that puts the 6-foot-1-inch, 213-pound junior in a class of his own: this season, Gordon has accounted for more than a third of his team’s total offense. As a running back, there’s not much more you can do for your team than that. Gordon has also scored at least one rushing touchdown in each of his last six games and is rushing for 162 yards per game — the second-highest average in the country.
4. Alabama WR Amari Cooper
Last week: BYE
2014: 71 receptions, 1,132 receiving yards, 9 receiving TDs
Cooper has been one of the biggest reasons for Alabama’s rebound after the Oct. 4 loss to Ole Miss. In the three wins since that loss, Cooper has totaled 386 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Two weeks ago against Tennessee, his 224 receiving yards were more than the Volunteers’ total passing yardage in the contest, and he accounted for 78 percent of the Tide’s passing yardage total. It’s been simple this season — when Cooper has a good game, the Tide win big. With four regular-season games left, it’ll be up to him to push the Crimson Tide into the playoff.
5. TCU QB Trevone Boykin
Last week (W, 31-30, vs. West Virginia): 12-for-30, 166 passing yards, 1 passing TD, 1 INT, 49 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD
2014: 2,472 passing yards, 22 passing TDs, 4 INTs, 423 rushing yards, 4 rushing TDs
Just how potent has Boykin made his TCU offense this season? The answer can be found in TCU’s embarrassment of Texas Tech two weeks ago. In that game, Boykin threw for 433 passing yards and a school-record seven touchdowns, as TCU throttled the Red Raiders, 82-27 — highest ever point total for a Big 12 conference matchup. Beyond that contest, Boykin has been the centerpiece of a TCU offense that is ranked second in scoring offense, third in total offense and sixth in passing offense in the nation. With the Dallas native under center, the Horned Frogs have yet to score less than 30 points in a game.