From favorite to afterthought and back again. That has been the Heisman Trophy journey for Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, and it has all happened in
the past three weeks. Mariota, though, will need to maintain his pace or see a letdown from undefeated and top-ranked Mississippi State if he wants to pull
away from Dak Prescott. As for last weekendís game with the most significant Heisman implications (and National Championship implications, for that
matter), Florida Stateís win over Notre Dame kept Jameis Winston in the discussion while sending Everett Golson tumbling down the charts.
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Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon (+140)
Was it really less than three weeks ago when the Ducks lost to Arizona? Yep, but it might as well be a lifetime. Thanks in part to the trials and
tribulations of former trophy contenders Todd Gurley and Kenny Hill but mainly thanks to his own outstanding play, Mariota is back on top. After accounting
for four total touchdowns in a huge win over UCLA, the senior signal-caller threw for 336 yards and two scores in a 45-20 drubbing of Washington last
weekend. For the season, Mariota has 19 passing TDs and still has not tossed a single interception. He also has 289 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
Oregon does not have marquee opponents on the remaining schedule against whom Mariota can really prove himself, but he doesnít have to. At this point,
keeping the Ducks to just one loss is the key to his Heisman campaign.
Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State (+180)
Mississippi State had an off week, seemingly the only possible thing that can halt Prescottís Heisman momentum. The Bulldogs and their quarterback will
look to regain their fine form on Saturday when they get back in action at Kentucky. At least Prescott and friends undoubtedly enjoyed their bye. Those are
always more fun when your team is coming off consecutive victories over opponents ranked in the Top 10 at the time of the game (LSU, Texas A&M, and
Auburn). Prescott torched the Tigers for 246 passing yards, 121 rushing yards, and three total touchdowns.
Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin (+550)
Gordonís team was also left on the sidelines last weekend. Like Prescott, he could at least continue feeling content with an awesome performance the
previous week. Wisconsinís star running back rushed 27 times for 175 yards and four touchdowns in a 38-28 defeat of Illinois. His 6.5 yards per carry in
that contest were actually his third-lowest single-game total of the season. For the 2014 campaign, Gordon is averaging 7.9 yards per carry and has 13 TDs
in six games. Losses to LSU and Northwestern, though, are not helping the juniorís cause. Will a relatively weak Big Ten schedule the rest of the way
prevent him from making a big enough statement?
Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State (+1500)
There are at least three strikes against Winston (and thatís if you lump all of his off-the-field issues into one strike): questionable behavior away from
the playing field, suspension from his teamís biggest regular-season game of the year, andóto a lesser extentóthe 2013 Heisman Trophy. Voters almost
certainly do not want to vote for Winston, and they definitely do not want him to become the first back-to-back winner since 1975. But will they have to?
Right now, no. Winstonís individual 2014 resume still pales in comparison to that of Mariota, for example, despite throwing for 273 yards and two TDs in a
dramatic victory over Notre Dame. That could change, however, if other contenders falter and FSUís leader continues to play well and keep his squad
Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama (+1500)
As it stands now, Cooper looks like he could be the best player on the best team in the nation. The rankings do not reflect it because the Crimson Tide
have a loss to Ole Miss, but they embarrassed Texas A&M 59-0 last week. Upcoming dates will LSU, Mississippi State, and Auburn will do more to tell us
if that lopsided result says more about the Tide or the struggling Aggies. As for Cooper, he went off in the form of eight receptions for 140 yards and two
touchdowns. The junior wideout has 62 catches (already a career high) for 908 yards and seven scores through seven games. That includes a 10-catch,
201-yard, three-TD performance against Florida.
Nick Marshall, QB, Auburn (+1800)
Auburn was off last week, which means Marshall and company had to sit around licking their wounds from a 38-23 loss at Mississippi State. Two interceptions
only compounded the teamís setback and hindered Marshallís Heisman chances. However, he also rushed for 100 yards and threw for 209 yards and two
touchdowns. Marshall may not necessarily control his own destiny, but anyone in the SEC still has a ton of remaining opportunities. The Tigers play at Ole
Miss, at Georgia, and at Alabama between now and the end of the regular season. If they could somehow win all three of those gamesÖ.
Everett Golson, QB, Notre Dame (+2000)
Last Saturday nightís showdown was a must-win for Winstonís chances. It was not for those of Golson. Still, the hard-to-swallow loss is damaging. The
Heisman Trophy often goes to the quarterback of the best team in the nation as opposed to the best player in the nation, and Golson very nearly could have
staked a claim to the former distinction. Instead, the Fighting Irish are saddled with a loss and will need help to get into the College Football Playoff.
After throwing two interceptions against the ĎNoles, Golson may need some help getting to New York. Still, he threw for 313 yards and three touchdowns.
Best Value Play: Golson
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Read more articles by Ricky Dimon