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, QB, OREGON
The lead Duck led Oregon to a decisive 45-16 rout of traditional pain-in-the-wing Stanford to lift his team into a top-four CFP spot and himself back into frontrunner status for the Heisman Trophy. Mariota threw for 258 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 85 yards and two more scores against the Cardinal. For the season he’s thrown for 2,541 yards with 26 TDs and just two interceptions while rushing for 410 yards and seven scores. The Oregon offense affords Mariota so many opportunities to shine it’s impossible to imagine he won’t earn an invitation to New York if the Ducks keep winning.
2. DAK PRESCOTT, QB, MISSISSIPPI STATE
Prescott shrugged off the walking boot he wore after winning at Kentucky two weeks ago, but the Haughton native clearly wasn’t himself as the Bulldogs struggled to beat Arkansas 17-10 at home. Prescott did throw for a career-high 331 yards and ran for 61 more, but he threw two INTs to one TD. For the season he’s thrown for 2,025 yards with 16 TDs and 7 INTs while rushing for 725 yards and 10 scores.
3. MELVIN GORDON, RB, WISCONSIN
A sixth-straight 100-yard game (128 yards, 2 TDs at Rutgers) keeps Gordon golden as the Heisman race enters its final month. For the season he’s run for 1,296 yards and 18 TDs, fourth-most among all FCS rushers. One knock: he only has eight receptions, though maybe that’s more a knock on the Badgers woeful passing game.
4. TREVONE BOYKIN, QB, TCU
His numbers weren’t overwhelming (166 yards passing, 49 rushing, 2 combined TDs), but Boykin did the Heisman thing by rallying his team to a big 31-30 win at West Virginia.
5. AMARI COOPER, WR, ALABAMA
There’s really no stopping Cooper, who’s had less than eight catches and/or 100 yards only once this season, just trying to slow him down. That’s LSU’s unenviable task Saturday night. For 2014, Cooper has 1,132 yards and 9 TDs on 71 catches.
ON THE RADAR
Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
Everett Golson, QB, Notre Dame
Duke Johnson, RB, Miami (Fla.)
Nick Marshall, QB, Auburn
Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State