Marcus Mariota is the leading candidate for the Heisman and deservedly so. Mariota has had an unbelievable year completing 68.3 percent of his passes, throwing for 3,783 yards and 38 touchdowns with only two interceptions along with a total quarterback rating of 91.9 to lead the country. Should Mariota win Saturday night he will have the chance to accomplish a feat that only 14 other players have ever managed.
Bruce Ely of the Oregonian highlighted the very special opportunity Mariota has this season. if, as expected, he wins the Heisman and then leads the Ducks to a national title, he would be only the 15th player since 1935 to win the award and win an NCAA-recognized national championship in the same season.
If Mariota wants to embed himself in the halls of college football legends any more than he already has, his first task will be to beat the last Heisman/National Champion winner, Jameis Winston. The battle between these quarterbacks will be intense as Winston has put up strong numbers as well this season (3,559 passing yards and 24 TD). Not only will the Ducks have to watch for the playmaking ability of Winston, but Florida State also had an FBS-leading five players elected to USA Today’s All-American list.
Mariota and the offense will have to keep an eye on All-American safety Jalen Ramsey, a real threat in the secondary who brought in two interceptions. In addition, on the line he has made nine and a half tackles for a loss with three sacks and two forced fumbles.
On the other side of the ball, the much improved Oregon defense will have to contain Mackey Award winner Nick O’Leary who is averaging over 13 yards per catch and has contributed six touchdowns through the air as well as one rushing.
The Ducks have faced challenges this season and have succeeded where many thought they might fail. Nothing in college football is ever certain but between Mariota’s leadership and the raw talent of this Oregon team, we can be assured of a show on January 1st in Pasadena.
Top Photo by Craig Strobeck