Sometimes it’s hard to remember that not everyone gets to see Marcus Mariota play for their college team when they go to home games. I know that may seem obvious but honestly, all Duck fans are spoiled. Mariota is a rare talent whom the Ducks have ridden to what will hopefully be a birth in the first ever College Football Playoff. He’s not just good, he’s the best. So, when discussing the issue of college football’s best player, of course Mariota is the first name that comes to mind. With that said, here’s a look at how the other top three candidates for the Heisman Trophy this year stack up against the Flyin’ Hawaiian.
Marcus Mariota, Oregon:
Since the standard for college football excellence is on the offensive side of the ball, Mariota’s dual threat ability helps lead the single most potent offense of all of college teams. His season totals through ten games are ridiculous with 29 passing touchdowns, eight rushing touchdowns, an average of 10 yards per throw and an FBS leading 184.6 passer rating. To be fair, the man does have flaws. I mean he’s thrown two interceptions for God’s sake! Absolutely unacceptable.
Best (at Washington State): 387 total yds, 84% completions, five TD, zero int
Worst (vs. Arizona): 276 yds, 63% completions, two TD, zero int
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
To be fair, almost any other year Prescott would win the Heisman. Another true dual threat QB, the MSU standout has led the Bulldogs to an undefeated record including huge wins over Auburn, Texas A&M and LSU. Prescott leads a balanced Bulldog offense, throwing for 18 touchdowns thus far as well as sharing the team lead with 11 rushing scores. Although Prescott’s numbers don’t quite match those of Mariota, the fact that his team is undefeated is a huge plus. However, this week his team plays Alabama in what will no doubt be one of the biggest games of the entire CFB season. Prescott’s Heisman status, as well as his team’s playoff status, hinge on this Saturday’s critical matchup.
Best (vs. Texas A&M): 345 total yards, 77% completions, five total TD, zero int
Worst (vs. Arkansas): 392 total yards, 67% completions, one TD, two int
Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin:
The last non-QB Heisman winner was Mark Ingram in 2009, the only one in the last ten years, so the odds are stacked against Gordon. Don’t tell the Wisconsin stud that, however, as the junior is absolutely putting on a show this year. Gordon leads all FBS with 1501 yards and he’s second behind Jarvion Franklin with 19 touchdowns.
That number is a little skewed as Franklin has 44 more carries than Gordon on the season. Gordon is only 150 yards behind Ingram’s yardage total in 2009, and he’s already passed his touchdown mark with two games still left. So, if there were a year where a RB deserved the Heisman over a QB, this would probably be it.
Best (vs. Bowling Green): 258 total yards, 20 yards per carry, five TD
Worst (vs. Western Illinois): 60 total yards, 2.2 yards per carry, zero TD
Amari Cooper, Alabama
Again, non-QB Heisman winners are a rarity, especially WR candidates, but boy is Cooper making a name for himself. Among receivers with at least 60 receptions, Cooper is in the top five statistically in yards, yards per catch, touchdowns and receptions. This consensus best receiver in the nation and a likely top 10 pick in the NFL Draft is even more impressive than his numbers say. He has topped 130 yards six times so far this season and he leads Alabama with a ridiculous 52% of the team’s receptions. Barring some unforeseen tragedy, the Heisman will most likely not be Cooper’s though the junior is certainly turning some heads.
Best (vs. Florida): 10 receptions, 201 yards, 20 yards per catch, three TD
Worst (at. Arkansas): two receptions, 22 yards, 11 yards per catch, zero TD
Top photo from en.wikipedia.org