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. MARCUS MARIOTA
The race remains close, but going into the final weekend before voting Mariota is the man back in front. He accounted for six touchdowns in the Ducks’ 47-19 roast of rival Oregon State, four passing and two rushing while throwing for 367 yards and running for 39 more. And no interceptions. The guy never throws interceptions. For the season, Mariota now has 3,470 yards passing with 36 TDs and just 2 INTs and has rushed for 636 yards and 11 scores. The only thing that could cost him the Heisman at this point is a second, Kryptonite-like loss to Arizona in the Pac-12 title game.
2. MELVIN GORDON
Running back, Wisconsin
Gordon rushed for 151 yards and a touchdown (he had another receiving) in the Badgers’ Big Ten West-clinching win over Minnesota — and that was an off week by his standards. The fastest man ever to 2,000 yards in FBS history now has 2,260 yards and 26 TDs rushing, putting him 368 yards shy of Barry Sanders’ single-season record of 2,628 yards set in 1988.
3. AMARI COOPER
Wide receiver, Alabama
Saving his best for Bama’s biggest rival, Cooper had 13 catches for 224 yards and 3 TDs in a 55-44 Iron Bowl win over Auburn. For the season, Cooper has 103 catches for 1,573 yards and 14 TDs. Many think he’s the nation’s best pure athlete. That won’t be enough to surpass Mariota and Gordon, but Cooper certainly deserves to share the Heisman limelight with them on Dec. 13.
4. TREVONE BOYKIN
If the Heisman folks invite five finalists to New York, Boykin should be one. This season, Boykin has 3,254 yards, 26 TDs and 6 INTs passing and has rushed for 598 yards and 8 TDs.
5. DAK PRESCOTT
Quarterback, Mississippi State
The Dak Attack has cooled, considerably, but the Bulldogs will still be going to a CFP bowl and Prescott still deserves an invitation to New York based on his body of work. He needs 4 yards passing, 61 rushing in the bowl for a 3,000/1,000-yard season.
ON THE RADAR
Nick Chubb, running back, Georgia
Tevin Coleman, running back, Indiana
Jameis Winston, quarterback, Florida State
Scooby Wright, linebacker, Arizona