The college football season is flying by, and with three weeks left in the regular season, the race to win the sports’ most prestigious individual trophy is coming down to the wire. Let’s check in on some players who might be heading to New York City for the 80th Annual Heisman Trophy Presentation.
Marcus Mariota, Junior QB for the BR-1 Oregon Ducks
Mariota accounted for four total touchdowns and 353 total yards in last weekend’s 51-27 victory over the Utah Utes. On the season, the signal caller for the high-powered Duck offense has completed 67.1 percent of his passes for 2,780 yards, 29 touchdowns, and just two interceptions. Mariota has also carried the ball for 524 yards and eight touchdowns, at an average of 5.9 per rush.
The Ducks are 9-1, and will likely have a spot in the inaugural college football playoff should they win out. Two regular season games following this week’s bye, plus the Pac-12 title game (presumably) will give Mariota plenty of opportunities to shine and add to his resume with a quintessential “Heisman moment.” Look for Marcus to fly east to the big apple as one of the favorites to take home the hardware.
Dak Prescott, Junior QB for the BR-8 Mississippi St. Bulldogs
Dak put up pedestrian numbers against FCS program UT-Martin last week, but only because he didn’t really need to do much. He threw for 206 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for another 54 yards and a score in a 45-16 rout.
The stakes might be a bit higher this week, as the Bulldogs face BR-2 Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Prescott has thrown for 2,231 yards, 18 touchdowns, and seven interceptions this season, completing 61.1 percent of his passes. While those numbers might not eclipse Mariotta, Prescott’s 779 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns for a undefeated team in the SEC West make him a legitimate contender. The junior might need all of that and more to pull out a marquee win against the Crimson Tide, but Prescott could further cement his case with a win in this week’s marquee game.
Melvin Gordon, Junior RB for the BR-17 Wisconsin Badgers
Since 2000, only Reggie Bush (forfeit) and Mark Ingram have won this award from the running back position. Gordon might have the odds stacked against him, but he has certainly earned a spot in the conversation, if not a trip to New York. After topping 100 yards for the seventh straight game in a 34-16 win over Purdue, he brought his season-total to 1,501 rushing yards, which leads the FBS. Gordon ended up with 205 rushing yards against the Boilermakers, his third 200-yard output on the season.
On top of that, his 19 rushing touchdowns currently rank second in the country heading into a critical matchup against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in Madison. If Gordon can have a big game to lead Wisconsin to a Big 10 championship, he could become the first Badger since Ron Dayne in 1999 to win the Heisman.
Trevone Boykin, Junior QB for the BR-4 TCU Horned Frogs
If we published this article in a week or two, Boykin could be at the top of this list. The junior accounted for four touchdowns (one passing and three rushing) in the Horned Frogs’ impressive 41-20 victory over BR-4 Kansas State last weekend. On the year, Boykin has thrown for 2,691 yards, 23 touchdowns, and just four interceptions. If not for a brutal shootout-loss to Baylor, TCU would be undefeated, and near the top of everyone’s list to make the college football playoff. Instead, the Horned Frogs sit in the fourth and final slot.
As the team’s quarterback, Boykin will be the biggest factor in securing a playoff spot for TCU over the final three weeks. If he can do that, and make a signature play without a conference championship game, Boykin’s momentum could carry him to Manhattan.
Amari Cooper, Junior WR for the BR-2 Alabama Crimson Tide
I’d call him a sleeper, but the only “sleep” associated with Cooper is the lack thereof for defensive coordinators in the SEC. For the rest of us, he has been one of the most dynamic playmakers in all of college football. His position is the only reason he’s not a favorite to win the award — only one pure wide receiver has ever taken home the Heisman: Notre Dame‘s Tim Brown in 1987.
Cooper has ten receiving touchdowns, and his 1,215 receiving yards currently rank second in the FBS. He’s gone over 100 yards in all but three of the Tide’s nine games, and has eclipsed 200 receiving yards twice. With a game against the Bulldogs this week, an Iron Bowl matchup against Auburn to finish the regular season, and a shot at an SEC title game, Cooper will has plenty of chances left to make elite plays against elite competition. Cooper could be a key factor in Alabama propelling themselves into the college football playoff for a chance at a national championship. If he were to win it, Cooper would be the only Heisman winner ever without at least one rushing, passing, or returning touchdown.
J.T. Barrett, Freshman QB for the BR-3 Ohio State Buckeyes
Barrett is a huge dark horse, but the Buckeye quarterback has been a huge surprise for a team that lost star senior quarterback Braxton Miller before the season even started. Barrett amassed five total touchdowns and 386 total yards in Ohio State’s 49-37 statement win over Michigan State last weekend.
In the seven games since he threw three interceptions in a loss to Virginia Tech week two, Barrett has thrown 23 touchdowns to just three interceptions. Huge for a freshman who was thrust into the national spotlight less than a month before the season started. Not many guys have faced as much pressure as Barrett, who has the Buckeyes in the driver’s seat for a spot in the Big 10 championship game. Heisman or not, he has been one of the most valuable players for any team in the country.
Jameis Winston, Sophomore QB for the BR-6 Florida State Seminoles
Winston is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner on the defending national champion Seminoles, and he’s never lost a game in his college career. Even still, he’s fighting an uphill battle to win the award again. He’s thrown for 2,540 yards and 17 touchdowns to 11 interceptions so far — solid statistics, but he’s not on pace to match his numbers from his breakout freshman season. Voters won’t like that.
Stats aren’t the main reason we don’t count Winston among the favorites though. It’s his off-the-field shenanigans that have severely damaged his chances to go back to New York. From crab legs to obscenities, alleged sexual misconduct to alleged point-shaving, it seems like Winston is in the news every week for reasons totally unrelated to football.
It is evident Florida State is not as talented as they were last year, and Winston will need to carry the Noles even more than he did last season. Over his last three games, Winston has thrown six touchdowns and six interceptions. If he is saving his best play for last, it might need to come soon for Florida State. Even with all that, a second Heisman isn’t totally out of reach, and second national championship is certainly within range.