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. DAK PRESCOTT, QB, Mississippi State

Who has made the more meteoric rise — Prescott or his now No. 1-ranked Bulldogs? The State quarterback benefits here from the fact Georgia RB Todd Gurley’s season is likely over, but Prescott probably should have been the Heisman favorite a week ago anyway. He padded his credentials with another huge win against then No. 2 Auburn, overcoming two interceptions to finish with 367 all-purpose yards (246 passing, 121 rushing) and three touchdowns. The only thing hurting Prescott right now is the fact the Bulldogs have this week off, possibly blunting some of his/their momentum.


Mariota got back into prime Heisman contention with, again, Gurley’s exit from the race and a solid game against Pac-12 contender UCLA. Mariota rolled up 285 total yards (210 passing, 75 rushing) and four TDs. For the season he has 1,621 yards passing with 17 TDs — still no interceptions — and 290 yards rushing with 5 TDs. If the Ducks stay relevant in the Pac-12 race, Mariota’s candidacy will, too.


Golston has a golden opportunity to enhance his hopes of being Notre Dame’s eighth Heisman winner with a great game Saturday at Florida State. He’s coming off another big showing with 371 total yards (300 passing, 71 rushing) and three TDs in a shootout win over North Carolina.

4. MELVIN GORDON, RB, Wisconsin

LSU fans worried about the Tigers’ run defense should feel a little better knowing Gordon continues to run over everyone else. He had 175 yards and four TDs vs. Illinois last wee, his fifth game of 140-plus yards. He already has 1,046 yards and 13 TDs in 2014.

5. BRYCE PETTY, QB, Baylor

Two big plusses for Petty: his Bears are being regarded as a CFP semifinalist and he is coming off a monster showing against TCU. Petty threw for 510 yards and six TDs in a 61-58 win, giving him 1,534 yards and 15 TDs for the season.

On the radar


Ameer Abullah, RB, Nebraska

Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

Taysom Hill, QB, BYU

Bo Wallace, QB, Ole Miss

Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State