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1. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
Last Week: Idle
Outlook: After decimating Clemson in week one, Gurley turns his sights toward a vulnerable South Carolina defense in Georgia’s SEC opener. Last week, the Gamecocks allowed 169 rushing yards to Texas A&M. Yesterday, they gave up 132 to East Carolina. This matchup is ripe for Gurley.
2. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Last Week: 360 total yards (42 rushing) & 3 touchdowns in win vs. No. 7 Michigan State
Outlook: Down 27-18 at halftime, Mariota rallied the Ducks to 28 unanswered second-half points. More impressive than his stats, though, was his poise in the pocket. Michigan State harassed him throughout the game, but the Oregon signal caller never wavered. He stayed calm, got back up, and proceeded to throw three touchdowns of 15 or more yards. The Ducks host Wyoming next week.
3. Kenny Hill, QB, Texas A&M
Last Week: 283 passing yards & 4 touchdowns in win vs. Lamar
Outlook: A program the caliber of Texas A&M has no business playing Lamar in a college football game. In fact, Texas A&M’s entire non-conference schedule is a joke. Their conference schedule, of course, is loaded with games against Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Missouri, and Ole Miss. However, we’ll have to wait a month until they hit that part of their schedule. Hill’s Heisman stock will remain in stasis until then.
4. Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
Last Week: 154 total yards (96 receiving) & 2 touchdowns (1 receiving) in win vs. McNeese State
Outlook: When in doubt, get the ball in Abdullah’s hands. The Nebraska running back made a season-saving play against McNeese State on Saturday, dodging defenders left and right en route to a game-winning 68-yard touchdown catch and run. It was one of those plays that you can envision appearing in his highlight reel prior to the Heisman trophy presentation.
5. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Last Week: 256 passing yards & 2 touchdowns in win vs. Citadel
Outlook: A sideline dispute between Winston and head coach Jimbo Fisher may create a little controversy. In the big picture, though, the Seminoles are 2-0 and in the midst of the greatest run in school history. Yes, the program of the 1990s, has now won a school-record 18 consecutive games over the last two years. Winston is the primary reason why.
6. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
Last Week: DNP (did not play) in win vs. Northwestern State
Outlook: How serious is Petty’s back injury? The answer to this question has the potential to change the landscape of the Heisman race. Petty -- one of the preseason frontrunners for the Heisman trophy -- hurt his back in the season opener against SMU. Baylor and Petty seem to be downplaying the injury, so all we can do is take their word for it. Still, the Baylor quarterback can’t afford to miss too many games.
7. Rakeem Cato, QB, Marshall
Last Week: 410 total yards (143 rushing) & 3 touchdowns (1 rushing) in win vs. Rhode Island
Outlook: It’s difficult for a program playing for a non-power five conference to generate buzz in early September. That’s the dilemma for Marshall right now. Still, I stand by my prediction that Cato could be this year’s Jordan Lynch. He’ll play well for the entire season, but it’ll take a couple of months before he appears on the national radar.
8. Everett Golson, QB, Notre Dame
Last Week: 226 passing yards & 3 touchdowns in win vs. Michigan
Outlook: If taking a year off from football is going to make you play as well as Golson is then maybe every college quarterback should consider it. Of course, Notre Dame dismissed Golson from the team because of academic violations, but he’s back now, and has progressed significantly in the last two years. Just two games into the season, he already has 548 yards of offense and 8 total touchdowns (3 rushing).
9. Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
Last Week: 23 rushing yards in win vs. Florida Atlantic
Outlook: Alabama decided this week’s game scrimmage was a good time to work on their passing game. As a result, neither Henry nor T.J. Yeldon did anything worth noting. However, wide receiver Amari Cooper did. He had 13 catches for 189 yards and a touchdown. I believe somebody from Alabama’s offense emerges as a Heisman contender. I’m still inclining to go with one of the running backs, but Cooper is worthy monitoring.
10. Cody Kessler, QB, USC
Last Week: 135 passing yards in win at No. 13 Stanford
Outlook: Quietly, Stanford and USC has become one of the best rivalries in college football. Their games have been physical and they’ve come down to the wire. Kessler didn’t put up lofty numbers, but he held his own by not turning the ball over, and USC got a big road win. The USC signal caller could begin to make his move in the next two weeks, with games against Boston College and Oregon State.
On the Bubble
Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
Brandon Doughty, QB, Western Kentucky
Taysom Hill, QB, BYU
Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
Taylor Kelly, QB, Arizona State