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. Todd Gurley
Running back, Jr., Georgia
With Marcus Mariota’s Oregon team stumbling against Arizona last week, Gurley had a chance to strengthen his grip on the Heisman favorite’s role. Gurley didn’t dissapoint, rushing for 163 yards and two touchdowns in a 44-17 rout of Vanderbilt. For good measure, Gurley threw a 50-yard pass as well. For the season he has 773 yards rushing and eight TDs for an average of 8.2 yards per carry. More than that, Gurley is one of those players who just seems to have that extra move that Heisman voters will gravitate toward.
2. Dak Prescott
Quarterback, Jr., Mississippi State
LSU fans still steaming over the way the Bulldogs steamrolled the Tigers earlier this season maybe should trade that emotion for angst that LSU wasn’t able to keep Prescott in state. He was brilliant again against Texas A&M, throwing for 268 yards and rushing for 77 more while accounting for five total touchdowns in a 48-31 rout of the Aggies. He’s thrown for 1,232 yards, 13 TDs and just two interceptions this season with 455 yards and 6 TDs rushing.
3. Marcus Mariota
Quarterback, Sr., Oregon
Mariota wasn’t bad in the Ducks’ loss to Arizona (20 of 32, 276 yards, 2 TDs), but his first turnover of the season couldn’t have come at a more critical — or obvious — time. Mariota’s biggest problem is he had nowhere to go but down, but he’s hardly out.
4. Melvin Gordon
Running back, Jr., Wisconsin
The Badgers’ loss to Northwestern came despite more big gains from Gordon, who rushed for 259 yards and a TD. He has 871 yards and nine TDs on the season, a scant 7 yards behind FBS leader Ameer Abullah. But if his team loses more games that could sink his candidacy.
5. Jameis Winston
Quarterback, So., Florida State
Winston is being widely written off because of his off-field issues. His on-field play has been solid. 96 of 144 for 1,288 yards with 8 TDs an 5 INTs in 5 games. Hard at this point to imagine Winston will repeat, but he should still earn an invite to New York.
On the radar
Ameer Abullah, running back, Sr., Nebraska
Amari Cooper, wide receiver, Jr., Alabama
Everett Golson, quarterback, Sr., Notre Dame
Taysom Hill, quarterback, Jr., BYU
Nick Marshall, quarterback, Sr., Auburn