Each week, Advocate sportswriter Scott Rabalais, a Heisman Trophy voter since 1997, breaks down the top candidates for college football’s most prestigious award.
1. MARCUS MARIOTA
QUARTERBACK, SO., OREGON
The Ducks had to struggle to pull out a 38-31 victory Saturday at Washington State, but in a way, it only gave Mariota another opportunity to deliver some Heisman-grade heroics. He was 21-of-25 passing for 329 yards and five touchdowns. He also rushed for 58 yards, including a 41-yard touchdown run. For the season, Mariota has completed 74 percent of his passes for 1,135 yards and 13 touchdowns with no interceptions, while rushing for 214 yards and three scores.
2. TODD GURLEY
RUNNING BACK, JR., GEORGIA
The Bulldogs could have picked someone out of the stands to run the ball in Saturday’s 66-0 rout of Troy, and perhaps did, judging by Gurley’s stats. He had only six carries for 73 yards, though that’s a stellar 12.2 yard per carry average. For the season, he has 402 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 9.8 yards per his 41 attempts. He leads the SEC with 134.0 yards per game.
3. AMEER ABDULLAH
RUNNING BACK, SR., NEBRASKA
Abdullah made a big early impression on voters with his remarkable game-winning touchdown run against McNeese State and hasn’t let up. He rushed for 229 yards and two touchdowns Saturday against Miami and is No. 2 nationally with 625 yards rushing.
4. AMARI COOPER
WIDE RECEIVER, JR., ALABAMA
It’s not easy for wide receivers to win the Heisman Trophy, but Cooper has a real opportunity to be the exception. Against Florida, a team with a stout defensive reputation, Cooper had 10 catches for 201 yards and three touchdowns, giving him 43 catches for 655 yards and five TDs in 2014. If Blake Sims can keep feeding him the ball, Cooper’s candidacy can go far.
5. JAMEIS WINSTON
QUARTERBACK, SO., FLORIDA STATE
After playing the fool last week, Winston gets back to playing for real Saturday at N.C. State, a team that upset the Seminoles in 2012. If FSU keeps winning, Winston will remain a Heisman contender. But there’s little doubt a sizable segment of Heisman voters will hold Winston’s mounting pattern of dubious behavior against him.
ON THE RADAR
Everett Golson, quarterback, Sr., Notre Dame
Kenny Hill, quarterback, So., Texas A&M
Taysom Hill, quarterback, Jr., BYU
Bryce Petty, quarterback, Sr., Baylor
Dak Prescott, quarterback, Jr., Mississippi State