Each week, Advocate sportswriter Scott Rabalais, a Heisman Trophy voter since 1997, breaks down the top candidates for college football’s most prestigious award. This year’s Heisman will be presented at 7 p.m. Dec. 13 on ESPN.
1. MELVIN GORDON
Running back, Jr., Wisconsin
Gordon’s single-game rushing record may only have lasted one week, but his Heisman candidacy certainly has more shelf life. He rushed for 200 yards and two touchdowns in a 26-24 win over Iowa. That pushed him over the 2,000-yard mark for the season (now 2,109) with 25 touchdowns on 254 carries. En route, Gordon became the fastest player to 2,000 yards in terms of carries in FBS history. He’s now 519 yards short of Barry Sanders’ single season record of 2,628 yards in 1988. That means he needs 173.3 yards per game rushing to surpass Sanders, if the Badgers beat Minnesota on Saturday to earn a berth in the Big Ten Championship Game.
2. MARCUS MARIOTA
Quarterback, Jr., Oregon
Though he can run away from defenders, Gordon can’t run away from Mariota. These two are more like 1-1A in the Heisman race than 1-2. Mariota was on form again Saturday with 396 total yards and four TDs against Colorado. He now has 3,103 yards, 32 TDs and just 2 INTs passing and 597 yards, 9 TDs rushing.
3. TREVONE BOYKIN
Quarterback, Jr., TCU
Boykin and TCU had the weekend off and wrap up the regular season Thursday at Texas in a game with huge implications for the Heisman and CFP race. This season, Boykin has 3,021 yards, 24 TDs and 5 INTs passing and has rushed for 548 yards and 7 TDs.
4. DAK PRESCOTT
Quarterback, Jr., Mississippi State
The Dak Attack rebounded from that loss to Alabama by putting away Vanderbilt 51-0 as he threw for 193 yards and 3 TDs and rushed for a score. He has 2,714 yards, 23 TDs and 10 INTs passing and 891 yards and 12 TDs rushing. Ole Miss’ swoon won’t give him as big a stage as once thought.
5. J.T. BARRETT
Quarterback, Fr., Ohio State
How good is this kid? Braxton Miller’s backup going into the season, he has a school-record 33 TD passes with 10 INTs and 2,658 yards passing along with 849 yards and 9 TDs rushing. Miller should reconsider returning to Columbus in 2015.
ON THE RADAR
Nick Chubb, running back, Fr., Georgia
Tevin Coleman, running back, Jr., Indiana
Amari Cooper, wide receiver, Jr., Alabama
Jameis Winston, quarterback, So., Florida
State Scooby Wright, linebacker, So., Arizona