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. MELVIN GORDON
Running back, Wisconsin
Last week I wrote that Gordon would be the Heisman front-runner if he didn’t play in an age when quarterbacks dominate the game and this award. Then he did something for the ages. Gordon broke LaDainian Tomlinson’s FBS single game rushing record with 408 yards (and four touchdowns) against Nebraska — in THREE QUARTERS. Gordon, who had 140 yards rushing in basically two quarters against the Tigers before inexplicably sitting out most of the second half, leads the nation with 1,909 yards on 223 carries (8.6 yards per carry) with 23 TDs. With two regular season games, a bowl and a now likely appearance in the Big Ten Championship Game remaining, Barry Sanders’ single-season record of 2,628 yards in 1988 is within reach. If that’s not worthy of a Heisman, what is?
2. MARCUS MARIOTA
Mariota did nothing to lose his lead Saturday, he just could do nothing to keep it as the Ducks were idle. His numbers are truly amazing (2,780 yards, 29 TDs, 2 INTs passing; 524 yards, 8 TDs rushing) so he won’t give the trophy up easily.
3. TREVONE BOYKIN
TCU slid out of the CFP top four with a close win at Kansas, but it wasn’t Boykin’s fault. He was 26 of 36 for 330 yards with a TD and an INT, giving him 3,021 yards, 24 TDs and 5 INTs total. Great stats, but right now he’s looking at a bronze medal in this race.
4. AMARI COOPER
Wide receiver, Alabama
Cooper was super again in Bama’s huge win over Miss. State (8 catches, 88 yards, TD). He’s easily the nation’s top WR with 87 catches for 1,303 yards and 11 TDs, but while that will be good enough to win the Biletnikoff Award it won’t earn him the Heisman.
5. DAK PRESCOTT
Quarterback, Mississippi State
If the Heisman folks invite five candidates to New York for the ceremony, Prescott will get a seat. But his shot at winning ended with Saturday’s loss at Bama (290 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs passing, 82 yards rushing). For both Prescott and the Bulldogs, it appears their highest hopes have peaked.
ON THE RADAR
J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State
Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana
Nate Orchard, DE, Utah
Jameis Winston, QB., Florida State